South Platte: Brighton City Park to Ft. Lupton
Length of Trip: 9 miles (note: at low flows this trip will take a while)
Difficulty: Class I-I+ at 200+ CFS with one portage
High Water Flows: May-July, boatable year-round.
Flow: Call Watertalk @ 831-7135, Division 1, Station
48 for current river levels at the take out or click
Scenery: C+ There are many birds, cotton wood
trees, and other wildlife. Hwy 85 is not very far from the
river, so you can hear vehicles at times, and manmade debri
can be found in and along the river. The views of the Rockies
and the wildlife help offset the debri and the highway to
make this an enjoyable run.
Put-In: North of Denver, take Rt. 7 East from I-25
for 8.4 miles, to Veterans Park on the north side.
Take-out: From the put-in, go East on Rt. 7 for .4
miles, north on Hwy. 85 for 6.2 miles to 52 West (Dacona)
exit. Go west on 52 for .1 mile to the bridge over the river.
This is the take-out.
Description: This run is a great first time river
experience for all kinds of river boats and first time river
runners. The river is mostly flat with current. At higher
flows, the current will pick up speed, but the river difficulty
will not change until the river is over its banks in flood.
This run does have its river hazards to be aware of. There
are many strainers, (giant cotton wood trees in the river)
bridge abutments, fences along the shore and into the water,
cement blocks on the banks and into the water, pieces of steel,
all with debri piled up on them, and one dam in the middle
of the run. The dam is relatively easy to spot, as on river
left is a cement wall, in the middle of the river is a large
rock monolith, and the dam goes between these items. At high water, the velocity of the river will bring upon this dam much more quickly, making spotting the dam and portage more challenging. Portage river right, at high water there is a barb wire fence that reaches the water. This dam has been run, but the difficulty will
vary with water levels, and debri could be caught in the dam. Always
scout this drop, as the debri will change any runnable spot
from day to day. Dams are much more dangerous than there river running difficulty,
so please portage.
Images by Daniel Cota, thank you!
Even with all these hazards, this run is still a good run
for beginners, you just need to be a little careful. The water
is warm compared to other rivers in Colorado, there are eddies
to catch, small waves to surf, and a meandering channel to
find in the river bed. There are sand beaches to enjoy and
camping spots among the cotton woods. There are small islands,
and shoals to maneuver around, with lots of wildlife in and
along the river. Depending on the time of year, you can expect
to see: Great Blue Herons, Whooping Cranes, King Fishers,
Turtles up to 18" across, Ducks, Muskrats, and much more.
Great for kayaks, canoes, rafts, duckies, sea kayaks, and
most any other boat that can be run down rivers.