Eleven Mile Canyon: South Fork of the South Platte west of Colorado Springs
Length of Trip: 11 miles
Class II to V
Water Flows: May-Aug.
Flow: The gauge is not available to the public, and
is controlled by the Denver Water Board. 100 cfs is boney,
good water is 150-200 cfs, and above 200 cfs this run starts
to become more difficult, but could be even more fun.
Scenery: A-B The scenery is beautiful, but
the number of people along this section reduces the enjoyment
of this section. There are numerous campgrounds along the
river, with large groups of people camping in each campground
and fishermen everywhere. This is a better weekday run.
Put-In: Go West out of Colorado Springs on highway
24 toward Lake George. Turn left (South) at Elevenmile and
Blue Mountain Access (dirt). Follow the dirt road around a
lake, bear right at the road for Eleven Mile Canyon. You can
put-in almost anywhere along this river, as long as you avoid
private property. The main road dead ends at the bottom of
a dam. Pick any spot that is convenient for you to put in.
See description for the class V spots.
Take-Out: Almost anywhere along the 11 miles that is
public property. If you boat to the lake, portage the dam.
Description: This entire area is dominated by Granite.
The creek/river is somewhat unique to Colorado, as the river
has carved into large granite boulders and bedrock. The sculpted
granite along this entire run is fabulous. The first rapid
at the top of the canyon is a short Class V, just below a
sign, "Warning - Rapids Ahead" and then the run
turns into a Class III-IV until the last rapid. There are
short, 1/2 to 1 mile, sections of class II boating as well.
There are lots of eddies, waves, holes, and slide rapids which
are positively delightful. Lots of tight "S" turns
are what make this section a challenge. Boaters should be
wary of undercuts, and solution pockets on this river. The
granite lends itself to these two dangers and there are sections
where most of the river goes under rocks. On a positive note,
there isn't very much deadfall or manmade debris in the river.
This makes for a great day run. Intermediate boaters can portage
the class IV rapids that pop up along this section. If the
water is ever high on this section, beware, it will increase
to a Class V or VI very quickly. The last rapid is a continuous
Class V rapid. It is fairly long, with big drops one after
another. If you are up for this drop, it's great! You can
see both the Class V rapids from the road. The last Class
V rapid is just above the lake.
This run is wonderful. I would recommend this to class III
boaters and up. It has fun for the intermediate boater to
the expert. Class II boaters can road scout for class II sections
or, with better boaters, run the class II rapids and portage
the harder ones. This run is a very tight run. Rafts will
not fit. Short kayaks and duckies are probably the best boats,
even 13' canoes will have a problem fitting in some of the