- Class: IV/V+
- Distance: 5 miles (8 kms)
- Average Gradient: 120 feet/mile (23 m/k)
- Maximum Gradient:
- Temperature: cold
- Water Quality: rust colored, brown red, very silty
- Character: steep, continuous, fast with one "must portage" rock seive
- Nearby Rivers: Yeso River, Volcan River, Aconcagua River, Maipo River, Mapocho River, Cachapoal River
The Rio Colorado is a tributary of the Rio Maipo. Its close proximity to the capital city of Santiago once made it an ideal run for those looking for a thrilling class IV day of kayaking. However, since a landslide created a dangerous sieve in 1991 it has become less popular with kayakers.
The Rio Colorado usually has a distinctive red-red brown coloration from the soils picked up from the soils in its drainage east of Santiago. After the Colorado river joins the Maipo river the Maipo picks up this hue as it heads toward Santiago. The canyon of the Colorado River is quite deep, with bungee jumping off the Camino Al Volcan (Highway G25) Bridge that crosses the Colorado River. The river banks are also steep in many places making the river difficult to exit and/or find eddies when the water is high.
In 1991 a landslide occurred in the Colorado River Valley that changed an inspiring Class IV+ run into a near death trap for paddlers who are unaware of the hazards. The landslide, about one kilometer from the take-out, has created a rock sieve that is very difficult to spot and has the potential to be lethally dangerous. Quite a few kayakers have entered this sieve caught unaware and were lucky to escape. While all were able to swim out, the sieve claimed some of their kayaks. Extreme caution should be exercised when attempting the Rio Colorado and it is well worth it to locate the sieve area before you come upon it on the river.
In general the canyon of the Rio Colorado is very deep making it difficult to exit the river for the much of the run. At high water eddies are difficult to find.
River Flows / Gauge Information / Season
The Maipo River is commercially rafted throughout the year. The raft companies consider the Lower Maipo to be class IV from about September through April and class III the rest of the year. The period of “high flood” is generally December to January in which the river can reach epic proportions. During these months the middle and lower sections of the Rio Maipo can reach volumes of 10,000 cfs (280 cm/s) or greater, rivaling the Rio Futaleufu in volume. Flows in the upper canyon were estimated to be about 2000 cfs (57 cm/s).
Rock Seive Rapid - Class V+ about a kilometer above the take-out. It comes up very quickly and without warning.
Put-Ins and Take-Outs
- Put-in: Put-in at the check point station about 8 kilometers up the canyon from the Camino El Volcan. Some paddlers have reported they need permission to put on, so be courteous and alert to the situation there.
- Take-out: The bridge over the Rio Colorado is not a practical take-out because of its height from the river level. Take one of the nearby roads that descends closer to the river banks. There are also a number of lower bridges near the Camino El Volcan that may serve this purpose. The traditional take-out is about 1 kilometer below the dangerous sieve.
From the capital city of Santiago head up the Rio Maipo River Valley on the Camino Al Volcan (Highway G25). After you pass the town of Puente Alto it will be about 21 kilometers to the high bridge that crosses the Colorado River. Pass the bridge and take your next left on the well paved road to the village of Los Maitenes. If you miss the turn off you will enter the small village of Guayacan.
Places to Stay / Campgrounds
There are numerous places to stay in the Rio Maipo River Valley, but the most famous is the Cascada de las Animas Eco-Resort. They have tenting or luxury cabin options depending on your personal preference. Cascada de las Animas is located in the town of San Alfonso, north of the Rio Maipo River, on the right side of the main valley road going from Santiago.
Maps & Outside Links
- Outfitters & Lodging:
Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. The diagrams, maps and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get to Chile or Argentina. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.Read More: Disclaimer