Eleven Mile Canyon: South Fork of the South Platte west of Colorado Springs
Length of Trip: 11 miles
Difficulty: 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 drops.