Animas River

Animas River

The Animas River flows from north to south of the Durango, CO and plays a very important part of our community. It provides beyond gorgeous scenery and offers entertainment, a home for local wildlife, and serves as a precious water resource.


The River

Beginning just north of Silverton, CO, the Animas River originates from the Animas Fork and begins its 126 miles long journey to meet the San Juan River and ultimately feeds into the Colorado River. The northern portion interlaces with mining spots in the San Juan Mountains which dye the water red, yellow, and rust colors from minerals found in the area. It flows through Silverton and is joined by many creeks including Molas Creek, Cascade Creek, Coon Creek, and Hermosa Creek. Flowing lazily through the Animas Valley, The Animas Ditch and the Animas Valley Consolidated Ditch provides irrigation to many properties. Throughout town, Junction Creek and Lightner Creek merge with the Animas before the infamous Smelter Rapids by Santa Rita Park. It continues winding south as the Florida River merges with it just before the New Mexico border. Through Aztec, the Animas River finds the San Juan River just south of Farmington, NM. Its Spanish name “El Río de Las Animas” translates to “The River of Lost Souls”.


The Wildlife

Beyond providing a drinking source for the area’s deer, elk, bears, and others, fish are the primary inhabitant of the river. Rainbow and brown trout are common to find as the Colorado Parks and Wildlife fish hatchery is located just feet from the river and they release about 12,000 rainbow trout into the river each year. There are other native fish, frogs, and smaller animals as well that rely on the river as it’s home. 


Sport & Entertainment

In the summer, when the cfs (cubic feet per second) can reach 4,600, rafting, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding is a popular activity. There are many local raft outfitting companies to entrust for a good time. Animas River Days is the ultimate river celebration that hosts a plethora of events including a river float parade. 


Fishing is another well respected sport that the Animas River offers. The aforementioned fish are a great catch while flyfishing or casting off of a raft. 


Lake Nighthorse, a 1,500 acre reservoir pumps Animas River water up to the reservoir which similar activities along with motorized boating and the Wibit Aqua Park. 


Access Points

Throughout Durango, there are many public access points to the Animas River. Many from the Animas River Trail (a paved trail parallel to the river stretching over 7 miles through town), these points offer raft put-in and take-out points, swimming areas, and some with benches to enjoy a picnic. Places like Oxbow Park and Reserve, 32nd Street Park/Memorial Park, and Santa Rita Park offer more accommodations including bathrooms, picnic areas, and put-ins/take-outs.  


The Animas River is an abundant resource that provides necessary provisions to our area. From drinking water, irrigation water, and activities galore, the Animas River is the centerpiece of Durango. If you have any questions about the river of area activities, please don’t hesitate to contact The Durango Team.

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