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Río Azul, Upper & Lower, Guatemala (area: Northwest; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: IV, II; Ave. Gradient: 8 m/km; Portages: maybe in Upper; Length: 15, 9 km; Time: 2:15, 1:15 hours

Season: June to November; rafts? no; Highlights: beautiful colors and trees; Crux move: limbo in the Lower

Water Quality: decent; Water Temperature: not noted

PI: Yinchengüex (795 m) or La Laguna bridge (670 m); TO: Dolores bridge in Mexico (607 m)

Description: (click here for general notes about my descriptions)

The Río Azul (“blue river”) is a special place, with milky blue-green water flowing under a idyllic tree canopy, many of which are splendid sabino trees that favor the shoreline. (The sabino, a.k.a. Montezuma baldcypress, is the national tree of Mexico, and in Guatemala is only found in the department of Huehuetenango.) Above the riparian zone is mostly coffee groves. The Río Azul is often lacking for water, but worth doing if not excessively low.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

Descent History: I first ran the Upper in November 2003, with 200 cfs at the PI, and the Lower in June 2009, with 300 cfs.

Flow Notes: There is an online gauge downstream in Mexico on the Río San Gregorio (Puente Concordia gauge) which will give a clue about trends. In 2009, 1,200 cfs on the gauge gave 300 cfs in the Río Azul.

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: the Cimarron sinkhole north of Nentón.

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