Animas River Durango Colorado

The Animas River


The Animas River is large by southwest Colorado standards (100 feetwide in some places) and there is no dam interrupting its flow from Silverton to Farmington, New Mexico. The narrow gauge runs through the scenic canyons and along the upper river June-August. (Make reservations six weeks in advance.) The water here is fast with riffles and pools.

Mining operations have contaminated some of the upper river with heavy metals. Fortunately, by the time the river flows through the city of Durango it’s been diluted by feeder streams and is a fine fishery.

Starting about nine miles north of Durango the river meanders and in places is deep, slow, large, open and generally windy. There’s public access to the river through the city and three miles downstream to the “Purple Cliffs” below town.

Water for the Animas comes from a huge drainage area and is affected by snowmelt and summer storms. During heavy snow years the Animas may not clear until July and can be high and roily throughout the caddis hatches.

To get to the Animas, head to southern Colorado and make your way to either Highway 160, which runs east to west, or take scenic Highway 550 which runs north to south. Both get you to Durango, but the latter runs along the upper section of the river.

Excerpt from “Fly Fishing Southwest Colorado” available at Duranglers in Downtown Durango.