Suggested River Trips

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RiverStretchClassDaysTime of YearComments    [APR = Avoid Peak Runoff]
ARKANSASFractions (above Buena Vista)III(+)1May-AugAPR
 Buena Vista Town RunIII-1May-AugAPR
 Milk Run (Stone Bridge to Salida)II+1May-AugAPR – Lowhead dam has boat chute on left
 Salida to RinconIII-1May-AugAPR
 Rincon to Vallie BridgeIII-1May-AugAPR
 Florence to Pueblo ReservoirI+1May-AugAPR – twisty with strainers
 Pueblo Reservoir Dam thru townII1May-AugAPR – 1 or 2 dams to portage
BLUEGreen Mtn Res Dam to Spring Creek RoadIII(+)1July-SeptAPR – 2 diversion dam drops and a hopping narrows section; tough put-in is best done with ropes
CHAMAEl Vado Res Dam to Big Eddy Take-out II+(III)3May-June (thru Aug on a wet year)APR – Lottery Permit; Season varies widely by snowpack; weekend releases start late Friday mornings.
COLORADOPumphouseIII-.5May-SeptAPR – often combine 2 of these 3 sections
 Red Canyon (Radium to Yarm.Brg)III-.5May-SeptAPR
 Yarmony Bridge to State BridgeII+.5May-SeptAPR
 State Bridge to Landing StripI to II.5May-OctAPR – usually paired with next stretch to Catamount
 Landing Strip to CatamountI.5May-OctAPR – usually start at State Bridge
 Catamount to Twin BridgesII to III-1May-OctAPR – portage Rodeo Rapid (III+ and sharp concrete) on right
 Twin Bridges to below Swtwtr Rd.III-1May-OctAPR – or start earlier at Pinball put-in
 Below Sweetwater Rd. to DotseroII+.5May-OctAPR
 Dotsero to Hanging LakeI+1May-OctAPR – good beginner run with 3 small rapids
 Grizzly Creek to Glenwood Springs (2 Rivers Park)III-1May-OctAPR
 Glenwood to South CanyonIII-.3May-OctAPR – can get very windy; done with Cemetery or Grizzly runs
 New Castle to SiltI+.7April-OctAPR
 Rifle to Rulison/ParachuteII+1April-OctAPR
 Fruita to WestwaterI to II2-3April-OctAPR – do <12,000cfs; summer's crowded; car vandals at Loma
 Cisco Landing to Dewey BridgeI1April-OctAPR – can do this with next 2 sections
 Dewey Bridge to about Onion CrkII1April-OctAPR – can do this with next section
 Onion Crk to above MoabIII-1April-OctAPR – also called the Day Run; popular with rafts
 Moab to Potash MineII?1April-OctAPR
 Potash Mine to Spanish BottomII?2-3April-OctAPR
DOLORESCahone to Slick RockIII+2-3May-earlyJuneMANY rapids; Portage Snaggletooth Rapid – class IV
 Slick Rock to Bed RockIII3-4May-earlyJunePrior section and this 1 depend on big snowpack
 Bed Rock or last bit of San Miguel to GatewayIII-(2-)3May-JuneRunnable due to San Miguel water, even if the Dolores is not getting a release from McPhee Res.
EAGLEEdwards to below WolcottII+(III)1May-JulyAPR
 Gypsum to Dotsero/BairRanchII+ 1May-JulyAPR – No Eagle R. takeout at Dotsero, so add Colo. R. miles
GREENBelow Fontanelle Dam to I-80II3May-Sept?No camping in Seedskadee Refuge, so 2 segments; camp twice at the first location below the dam
 Flaming Grg Dam to Swallow CynII+(III)3May-earlyOctMust reserve 1st river campsite
 Lodore to end of Split MtnIII+4-5May-midOctAPR – Lottery Permit; can’t always get 5th day
 Deso-Gray, ends @ Green R, UTIII 6-9April-OctWant 1500-6000cfs, but can do less
 Labyrinth – Green River,UT or Ruby Ranch to Mineral BottomI+2-4April-Oct 
 Stillwater – Min. B. to Spanish BtmI+4-6April-OctAPR of Colo R last 2 miles; need jet boat up Colo R.
GUNNISONDelta or Escalante Bridge to WhitewaterI-II+2-3April-AugustAPR – usually do a full day of hiking Dominguez Canyon; car vandalism at both ends, so park at motel in Whitewater
NIOBRARANear Valentine, NebraskaI+2May-SeptSpring fed river keeps fairly constant cfs
N. PLATTESix Mile Gap CO/WY line to Treasure Island Rec SiteII+(III)3midMay-midJuneAPR when BIG snowpack; only runs for a week or less in low snowpack years
 Saratoga to I-80I+(II)(2-)3May-earlyJulyPut in at hot spring or Foote camp ground; great beginner overnighter except for difficulties at diversion dam
 Wendover Cyn – Glendo 2 GuernsyI+(II)1May-midSept 
POUDREBridgesIII+.5May-AugAPR – 2nd bridge is dangerous/fatal at higher water
 Filter PlantIII-.5May-AugAPR – Very popular
RIO GRANDEAbove CreedeIII(+?)1May-JuneWant around 500cfs; River Hill Campground to private trailhead
 Wagon Wheel Gap to S. ForkIII-?1May-June 
ROARING FKCemetery – S. Glenwood to Colo RIII-.7May-JulyAPR – Usually combine with Colo R to S. Canyon
SAN JUANSand I. (Bluff, UT) to Mexican HatII(III-)(2-)3lateApr-midOctAPR – Lottery Permit; extreme wind can add 1 day; flash floods
 Mexican Hat to Clay Hills CrossingII(III+)(4-)5lateApr-midOctAPR – Lottery Permit; extreme wind can add 1 day; flash floods
SAN MIGUELLedges – final miles before DoloresIII1May-JuneAPR?
S. PLATTEBelow Deckers – Bridge Crossing Picnic Ground to Pine Creek Rd.II+1May-July?APR – Water depends on Cheeseman Res. Release; can start at Scraggy View PG (mid of this run) and continue thru Chutes 
 Chutes and a few miles downIII+.4May-July?APR – Chutes are very scary; car portage them to a bad put-in
 C470 to Union ChutesII-III-1April-Oct?APR – river is easy, but man-made drops/chutes are trickier
 Brighton to Ft. LuptonI+1April-Oct?APR – cfs varies; 1 dam portage when gate is down 
 Evans to Kersey/KunerI+1midMarch-Oct?2 dam portages
WHITERangely/Bonanza 2 Enron GasWlsI-II3May-June(July)Several put-ins to manage long mileage; shuttle is a maze
YAMPACraig to Duffy Mtn RampI2(-3)midJune-earlyJulyWant <9000cfs; tough to catch Duffy ramp at >6000cfs; may need to go extra flat/windy miles/half-day to Juniper Hot Spgs
  • This document puposefully is not listing class III+ to IV day trips such as Brown’s, Shoshone, Westwater, and Numbers which are usually done by the “A” Team (A = Adrenaline-addicted).
  • Information given (especially in the Comments) are parameters designed to help decide if you want to lead a trip. Good points and trip description are left out due to space considerations. They are all good.
  • All trips listed are within a medium day’s drive of the Front Range; 455 miles to the San Juan is the longest distance. To go further afield, consider:
    • Montana – Smith River (lottery permit) or Missouri River
    • Teton/Yellowstone N.P. region – Snake and Yellowstone Rivers
    • Minnesota – Boundary Waters or Quetico (Canada)
    • Texas – Rio Grande – several sections in and near Big Bend N.P. and see Texas Paddling Trails for many other paddling options in Texas
    • Arkansas – Buffalo River
    • CANADA – Endless possibilities
  • The class rating and other details are subject to variation based upon water levels and many other factors. Other information in this listing is subject to change as well; so do your own research prior to selecting a trip to lead.

Poudre Paddlers has a nice list of lakes and rivers in the Colorado area at