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Blanco River- Fulton Ranch Road/Flite Acres to 5 Mile Dam Park

Trip Overview

The Blanco is a very diverse and unpredictable river. We went when the stage was between 7-8 ft (10 ft flood stage) about 5 days after a flood. The river is absolutely gorgeous, but it is not for the faint hearted. We didn't have any clue how the river was going to look, and there isn't a lot of information about this stretch of the river. We encountered about 20 rapids in this stretch, and several of the rapids were class IV that we had to portage around. However, the majority were easy and fun (class II and III) and there was a lot of white water that would randomly pop up. The first half of the trip was mostly small rapids and white caps. For these, it was mostly just important to keep your kayak straight and know that your going to get very wet. There weren't a ton of shallow rocks to avoid, and the rapids were pretty easy but looked and sounded bigger than they actually were. The middle section was where most of the 4' shelf drop offs were. These shelves weren't just one 4' drop, but a series of shelves and narrow passages. These areas were difficult to portage around, and even if we were equipped to take these rapids, there was a good amount of metal (rebar, fence posts, metal poles) sticking out of the rapids. There were many stretches of the river that would open up very wide and have almost no current, so it was pretty demanding in terms of endurance. I believe that after Fulton Ranch Road, we only saw a couple of other spots within 3 miles to put in or get out, and then it was all private property until we got to 5 Mile Dam. The Blanco River is a very sunny river, and there isn't much shade so we had to be diligent about re-applying sunscreen. We put in around 9:30am, and got out at 5:30pm. This could be a 2-day trip, and there are plenty of islands in the middle of the river if you wanted to camp. I traced the route on Google Earth, and it was just over 17 miles long. All of our portages were due to the intense rapids that we felt were above our skill level, we never had to walk due to dry spots, it was very full! There were 3 of us, and our kayaks were the Feel Free Monken 12.5, Tarpon 140, and Tarpon 100. The Monken was by far the best for this trip, and it went over two of the class IV rapids that the Tarpons had to portage without tipping. Both of the tarpons flipped, the 100 flipped twice and the 140 tipped once. I was on the 100, and had a difficult time keeping it on track, but luckily I didn't go backwards down any rapids.
  • Duration: Day Trip, 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II), Whitewater (Class III+)
  • Number of Portages: 5
  • Portage Description: Portages: TX State Camp Ground (Class IV) Bridge over Little Arkansas Road Two of the middle sections with class IV rapids Low water bridge (private property) about a mile upstream from 5 Mile Dam
Class IV rapids in the middle are NOT easy to see, approach slowly before you decide to take them on. Watch for rebar and metal posts sticking out in the rapids where the 2015 floods ripped out low water bridges.
Tarpon 100 was probably the bare minimum kayak for this, the Monken 12.5 (Feel Free) was perfect and didn't have to portage 2 of the 5 areas the other two had to. The Tarpon 140 was good, but it was the heaviest and required 2 people to portage. The Monken has a built in wheel on the back end, so it was easy for one person to roll it.
This is a seasonal river, and it has dry spots during most of the year. Go in April/May after heavy rains or you'll be walking a lot of the way. Google Earth has images of the Blanco during dry times to give you a good idea of how much the water level fluctuates. We only portaged due to the intense rapids, the river was plenty full and we never hit a dry spot.

Locations on this Trip