Overview of rivers in Colorado
Colorado rivers. Where to start? This is definitely the land of wicked whitewater, but there are still places for those who require less awe and terror in their lives.
The Yampa River, in northwestern Colorado, has a bit of everything for everybody. It flows right through Steamboat Springs, where you can rent a variety of floating inventions and take in the simple but fun swells of the river. Float down the two miles, hitch a ride back up, and do it all over again. Duffy Canyon, below Craig, has a few rapids that can hit class III in high water, and plenty of I-II along the rest of it. Expert kayakers should head to Cross Mountain Gorge to dally in its play spots.
Further south, towards Pagosa Springs, flows the Upper San Juan. Mesa Canyon is great for boaters who are really starting to get a feel for the water. High water can mean rapids up to class III, so take your canoe/kayak abilities into consideration, or opt for a raft. The area is beautiful, though, with plenty of wildlife, especially of the aviary kind.
The Arkansas is one of the state's most popular rivers, and for good reason. Much of it flows through areas easily accessible by road, so the possibility of a put-in or a hired run are always good. The whitewater can range from great to downright breathtaking. Finding an outfitter is only a problem if they're all booked, as can happen during the peak season, but there are also stretches of the Arkansas that offer a little more peace and quiet if you're not up for thrashing the waves. Below Canyon City, the river becomes noticeably more docile. As on any river, hazards like submerged trees and occasional riffles can result in an unexpected swim, but the float between Canyon and Pueblo Reservoir is ideal for families.
All the way south, near the border with New Mexico, is the Rio Grande. Like many of the rivers in Colorado, this one can thrill you or soothe you, and there's almost always good fishing. Box Canyon is short but fun, the biggest rapids weighing in around III-IV. Past Box Canyon is the run from Hogback Mountain to the bridge crossing Highway 149, with smaller rapids topping out at III, but consisting mostly of class II. Wagon Wheel Gap, south of Creede, is at the start of a popular rafting section of the river. Riffles and fish are just about the only thing to mar the easy water between the town of South Fork and Del Norte; there are a few class II rapids, which means you'll have to reel in your line so you can grab your paddle.
The National Rivers Website and the Rivers of Colorado section are made possible by the generosity of the members of the National Organization for Rivers (NORS.) To start or extend your membership, go to NORS Memberships.
NORS was founded in 1978.
The National Organization for Rivers
Copyright © by the National Organization for Rivers. All rights reserved. 4.
The National Rivers Website is part of Adventure Sports Online.