Colorado - 2. Lake Buchanan Spillway: Lake Buchanan Dam to S.H. 29 (1.3 miles)


Colorado, Texas, US

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2. Lake Buchanan Spillway: Lake Buchanan Dam to S.H. 29 (1.3 miles)

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 1.33 Miles
Avg. Gradient 79 fpm
Max Gradient 130 fpm


River Description

The Buchanan spillways are only active when Lake Buchanan is at very high levels (refer to the LCRA flood status web site.)  Both spillways are solid Class V hair runs with huge (house-sized) features.  They should only be attempted by pro-level paddlers, and given the danger and the tricky logistics, it is highly recommended that you go with paddlers who have run them before.  This is the most difficult and dangerous whitewater in Texas and among the most difficult and dangerous in the U.S.  Refer to Texas Whitewater for more specific beta.  Difficulty rating is taken from the book and from paddler beta.  Distances and gradient measured using GIS tools in 2016.

River Left (East) Spillway (AKA "Inks Creek")

This is the most frequently run of the two spillways and is referred to as the "16-gate section" in the LCRA sit rep.  Beta from paddlers suggests that this run is best with one gate fully open.  The east spillway descends 105' over 1.33 miles, averaging 79 fpm.  The first 1/3 mile drops at 130 fpm.

The following video is of the river left (east) spillway (Inks Creek) with one gate fully open.

River Right (West) Spillway (AKA "The Steeps")

This is referred to as the "14-gate section" in the LCRA sit rep.  Beta from paddlers suggests that this run is best with half a gate open.  This is a much shorter and steeper spillway and is thus even more difficult than the east spillway.  The west spillway descends 91' over 0.65 miles, averaging 140 fpm.  The first 1/4 mile drops at 212 fpm.

The following video is of the river right (west) spillway (The Steeps) with one gate fully open.  The drop at 0:20 and the hole behind it are big enough to swallow and work a bus.  For scale, this spillway is 50-100 yards across.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-06-06 17:30:17

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

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