Dolores River documentary premieres in Dolores

By Jim Mimiaga Journal staff writer

As Tim Cooper steers the raft through a rapid, Natasha and Sam Gordon seem to enjoy the wild ride Saturday at the Dolores River Festival. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/The Journal

As Tim Cooper steers the raft through a rapid, Natasha and Sam Gordon seem to enjoy the wild ride Saturday at the Dolores River Festival.

The third annual river permit party and fundraiser for the Dolores River Boating Advocates will take place on Jan. 15 starting at 6 p.m. at the Dolores Community Center.

This year’s event features a movie premiere of “River of Sorrows: The Dolores Rivier Project,” a documentary on the Dolores River by Rig to Flip. Live music will be performed by Last Nickel, and there will be a silent auction. Auction items include a trip for two on the Yampa River from OARS, local raft trips from Mountain Waters Rafting and Mild to Wild, cabin stays from the Dolores River Campground, and a lot of river gear.

Beer will be served from the Dolores River Brewery, and the event is catered by the Absolute Bakery. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students, and 12 and under are free. There will be free childcare and kid activities, so this is a family-friendly event.

DRBA was awarded a $12,000 grant from Patagonia for the River of Sorrows documentary, and Rig to Flip was hired for the job.

In 2015, film crews traveled the Dolores from its headwaters at Lizard Head Pass to its confluence with the Colorado River 200 miles later.

“We choose rivers with a rich story to tell,” filmmaker Cody Perry said in an interview. “The natural beauty, history and current issues of the Dolores River are fascinating.”

The fact that a whitewater release from McPhee dam into the lower Dolores River has not happened since 2011, did not deter the filmmakers. They boated the section above Dolores, and the canyons below the confluence with the San Miguel River, filming the whole way. They explored the shallows of the river below the dam to document that part of the story.

The dynamics between different users of the Dolores River can be controversial, and reporting on diverse interests is part of the film, Perry says. But Rig to Flip documentaries avoid solely focusing on a particular viewpoint.

“It will be an honest reflection of a natural resource and the way it fits into the lives of community members in different ways,” Perry says.

Life before and after the dam interests the filmmakers, as does the economic benefits of irrigation farming and river recreation.

An Indiegogo fundraiser is underway to help pay for the final stages of the film project. Got to for more information.

“It is our first documentary, so we are learning that it cost more than we thought,” said DRBA coordinator Lee-Ann Hill. “The Dolores is a complex system, and we want to present the different aspects in the film and highlight the joy of boating the canyons.”

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  1. Looking for a new or used Dolores river guide. From Montana and cannot find anyone that has a river guide so would appreciate if there is someone who might have one I could use and I would send it back after our trip. We want to spend about 10 to 12 days on the river.

    Thanks you,

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