Difficulty III-V
Length 3 Miles
Flow Range 120 - 650 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 46 minutes ago 4.61 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/27/2020 6:29 pm

River Description

Bear Creek is an intermittent stream with the roadside qualities of being fast-paced and definitely impacted by a number of concrete structures, diversions and wood.
Bear Creek contains Colorado-style Class IV/V with plenty of small waterfalls packing unique power and hydrology. Being near Denver, expect urban stormwater while the willow, tamarisk and russian olive whip you into the next rapid.
Bear Creek is a very small streambed, so expect facial combat with overhanging vegetation.
Some stretches are notorious for it's sticky hydraulics at high water.

Bear Creek is rowdy over 500cfs . When visual inspection causes lots of questioning you are at a sikbird level @+/- 600 CFS. 

Bear Creek flows through JeffCO parks and has a number of good hikes to explore local geological features.

Flooding in September 2013 resulted in significant changes to many Colorado rivers. 
Streambed alterations and woody debris are common. These structures may cause significant and instant streambed alteration causing WTF moments. (WTF: Welcome to Frontrange... ) There are frequently lumber piles and strainers on Bear Creek. ** Now watch out for that low bridge!! This run and many other Colorado Streams and Rivers are all surrounded by competing water providers and urban straws.

Pics of Bear Creek and Colorado classics at Webshots photo album.

Please help American Whitewater to provide you better access to Bear Creek by donating $100 to American Whitewater and becoming an annual member.

Thank you for supporting American Whitewater.
May Colorado's amazing natural resources only get more protections and accessibility.

Rapid Descriptions


Class - IV Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Putin at the first street you come to in Idledale.

Park smart, like you live there and dont want to screw your neighbors. Do not block driveways.

Please find a safe vehicle pullout by the creek or highway. There is a low water bridge 100 ft downstream, at 250cfs you have to duck to get under it.

At over 700cfs, call 911 and begin rescue breathing.

No Scout Falls

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A disgruntled land owner overlooks this rapid, you can't scout this rapid without tresspassing on his land. At least it's relatively easy. Take the far right channel, boof left over a juicy hole, then go with the flow as is it zig-zags back and forth.

1st Slide

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Just downstream from a tight corkskrewing rapid, run it center right.

No Fun Falls

Class - 5.1 Mile - 1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Long and pushy entrance into steep little gorge, through a couple big holes then over a 10' waterfall.

Beware of the right side at the bottom.

2nd Slide

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Run right but not too far right to avoid overhanging rock on bank for flows under 250cfs.

Diversion Dam

Class - 5.0 Mile - 2.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
No keeper hydraulic at the bottom so boof away! If you've had your hands full above take out here.

Hair O' the Bear

Class - 5.0 Mile - 2.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This hectic 1/2 mile long rapid is chock full of big holes, and has no eddyies.

This face scraping run provides a thick tunnel of overhanging willows. Not a good place to swim... all of Bear Creek that is.

High flow note: at over 650cfs this section is NOT advised.

Morrison City Park

Class - IV Mile - 3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Continuous pushy white water all the way to the take out. Get out just before the bridge over the creek, on river left. From the main drag in Morrison turn left at Maple Ave, then right at Bear Creek Ave just before the bridge over the creek. Follow the signs for Morrison City Park.


Gage Descriptions

Colorado Division of Water Resources gauge: Bear Creek at Morrison.

Low: 150 - 250 cfs
Med: 250 - 400 cfs
High: 400 cfs and up

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports



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Colorado Parks & Wildlife to Require Hunting or Fishing License at River Access

Kestrel Kunz

In an unexpected and strategic move by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), a Colorado hunting or fishing license will now be required to access State Wildlife Areas and CPW-leased State Trust Lands (effective July 1, 2020). Many of these affected areas have historically been used for paddling, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, and other non-consumptive recreation uses. CPW's press release stated that "This rule is aimed at curtailing non-wildlife-related use of these properties", and while we understand the need to increase revenue to support management of these areas, we have a few concerns with this strategy. On July 1, American Whitewater, Colorado Mountain Club, and multiple other organizations submitted a joint letter to CPW Commissioners requesting that they reconsider the new Rule and find a more practicable and sustainable method for collecting fees for these areas.

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Opportunity to Participate in Upper Gunnison Watershed Management Plan (CO)

Kestrel Kunz

The Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District in Gunnison, Colorado is coordinating a Watershed Management Planning effort "to help protect existing water uses and watershed health in the Upper Gunnison Basin in the face of pressure from increased water demands and permanent reductions in water supply." The current phase is focusing on Tomichi, Cochetopa, Cebolla, Taylor, and the Gunnison River above Blue Mesa. With local stewardship staff in Crested Butte, American Whitewater has joined the Watershed Management Planning Team to help represent recreational river users and quantify flow preferences and recreational opportunities on the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers. American Whitewater is very excited to be involved in this stakeholder driven process and we are asking paddlers to share their input on management priorities for the Upper Gunnison Basin. If you have experience paddling Cebolla, Taylor, or the Upper Gunnison Rivers, please fill out this quick survey! 

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AW releases Saint Vrain and Lefthand Creek Recreational Flow Study - CO

Nathan Fey

Longmont, Colorado - As part of a comprehensive Stream Management Plan for the St Vrain Creek Watershed, American Whitewater is collecting and compiling data on recreational uses, and identifying projects and strategies to improve stream health, recreation, and environmental conditions in the region. You can help with this extensive effort. Please participate in the Recreational Flow survey.


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Support Colorado River Access on Colorado Gives Day!

Kestrel Kunz

Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!

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Voluntary River Closure Proposed On the Slate River (CO)

Kestrel Kunz

Crested Butte CO - Alleged disruption to a Heron Rookery and concerned private landowners have led to a "Voluntary Closure" of the Slate River from the Gunsight Bridge to the Town of Crested Butte between March 15 and June 21 for the 2019 season. The Slate River between Oh Be Joyful Campground and Skyland Bridge, a 10.5 mile stretch, provides an incredibly scenic and unique flatwater paddling experience in the Gunnison Valley. The Voluntary clsoure is a product of the Slate River Floating Management Plan, created by a Working Group convened by the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Working Group was created in direct response to pressure from the local community including conservationists and private landowners adjacent to the river, who are concerned that a recent increase in boating activity is disturbing a Heron Rookery that straddles the Slate River. 

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AW Comments on Colorado Nat'l Forest Wilderness Process

Kestrel Kunz

Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer. 

Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)

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TAKE ACTION: Comment on the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Management Plan

Kestrel Kunz

ARKANSAS RIVER, Colo. - The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is revising their Management Plan for the first time since 2001. The new Draft Plan was made publicly available in October and the AHRA is accepting public comments through November 10, 2017 (next week!). In order to design effective and productive comments, American Whitewater has thoroughly reviewed the Draft Plan, discussed the Plan with our local Affiliate Clubs, attended AHRA Public Open Houses, and reached out to key members of the local paddling community. To make it easy for you to SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS, American Whitewater staff have compiled our key concerns and comments for your review. 

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Colorado Honors the legacy of Matt Brown

Nathan Fey

Gunnison, Colorado - Last Wednesday, Matt Brown - longtime river guide, adventurer, and pillar of the Gunnison Valley community- passed away tragically after an accident in Moab. Matt was so much to so many.  At the request of his family and friends, contributions in Matt's memory can be made to American Whitewater’s River Access work in Colorado.  Matt was a strong ally and advisor in our work to protect the public’s rights to float and fish in the State.  We miss him immensely.

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Comments needed on Upper Colorado River Recreation Area Management Plan

Nathan Fey

Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit;  a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.

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Gore Fest 2017 is a few weeks away!

Nathan Fey

Bond, Colorado - American Whitewater is presenting Gore Canyon Festival - August 25-27th 2017Online registration is open and there are events for everyone, so sign up today! 

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A Successful River Cleanup on the St. Vrain (Lyons, CO)

Kestrel Kunz

On Sunday, nearly 50 people gathered on the banks of the St. Vrain River to pick up trash from the water and the shoreline. We started the day off with Hotbox Roasters coffee and donuts, and a few words about River Stewardship – the common cause that brought us all together. We found bedframes, rusty nails, lawn chairs, car doors, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, and it doesn’t stop there. Our findings are likely a combination of leftover debris from the floods, illegal waste dumping along the river, and built up trash from years of careless passers-by. Thank you to all those that came out for the river cleanup! American Whitewater depends on our affiliate clubs, members, and dedicated volunteers in order to tackle our many River Stewardship projects.  

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Releases to Lower Dolores River certain in 2017.

Nathan Fey

Cortez, Colorado - Last week, American Whitewater met with local water managers, fisheries biologists, an other interests in Dolores River water, to start negotiating releases from McPhee Dam - like we do every spring.  This year, things are looking very good for the Dolores...

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Upper Colorado River Access funded by Land & Water Conservation Fund - CO

Nathan Fey

Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County. 

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One more day to submit input on Colorado's Brown Canyon National Monument!

Kestrel Kunz

There is only one more day left to share what you value most in the Browns Canyon National Monument planning area! The Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to develop a Coordinated Management Plan for Browns Canyon National Monument. In order to design a plan that most benefits citizens and visitors of Colorado, the agencies designed an Online Survey and Mapping Tool to understand how the public interacts with the Browns Canyon planning area and what aspects of the area are most important to the public.


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New Report on Impact to San Miguel River From Proposed Reservoirs

Evan Stafford

Colorado - American Whitewater has released a new study on whitewater recreation in the San Miguel River Basin. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) requested that Montrose County consult with American Whitewater on recreational needs and future impacts for the San Miguel River. Montrose County acquired conditional water rights to the San Miguel River in hopes of building multiple new reservoirs on BLM land. American Whitewater worked with Montrose County’s agents to assess the impact its conditional storage proposals would have on existing recreational opportunities. 

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Proposed Asphalt and Gravel Mine threatens the Upper Colorado River

Evan Stafford

A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.


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Lyons Outdoor Games and Burning Can to Support AW

Nathan Fey

Lyons, Colorado - For the second year in a row, Oskar Blues Brewery is hosting the Burning Can Festival at this year Lyons Outdoor Games.  Burning Can, which takes place under the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park and the St. Vrain River, is a celebration of good beer, served in a can.  This year, All money raised from Lyons Outdoor Games recycled cans will be donated to American Whitewater. See you there!

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AW launches Flow Study for Yampa River

Nathan Fey

Colorado - American Whitewater is conducting a study of flow-recreation relationships for the Yampa Basin, and identifying specific metrics for use in the Watershed Flow Evaluation Tool. This study is intended to inform local, state, and federal planning efforts as to the full range and quality of recreational boating opportunities for the Wild and Scenic suitable Yampa River, as well as the Elk and White Rivers, and their tributaries. Your participation in the flow survey is requested.

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River Access Task Force Submits Recommendations to Colorado Governor

Nathan Fey

Colorado - On December 23, Governor Bill Ritter issued a report outlining a series of proposals for resolving disputes between landowners and rafters in Colorado. He also signed an executive order creating the River Access Mediation Commission to provide a way for some of the most contentious conflicts between boaters and property owners to be addressed. The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force was a 17-member group created in July of 2010 to help craft ways to sort out conflicts on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise.

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Help Protect the Yampa River - Colorado

Nathan Fey

Colorado - Last month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released their proposed management plan for the Little Snake Resource Area, encompassing over a million acres of soaring plateaus, wild and scenic rivers, and sweeping sagebrush basins.  Special interests are trying to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to protect portions of the Yampa River – one of the nation's last free flowing rivers.    Let BLM know that protections for these rivers are important to you!


Craig Irwin




Matt Muir


Paul Martzen


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1215184 06/06/20 Craig Irwin updated description
1215624 07/27/20 wreeves updated name
1215625 07/27/20 wreeves updated image position
1215628 07/27/20 wreeves updated image position
1215626 07/27/20 wreeves updated stats
1215627 07/27/20 wreeves updated name
1192612 02/12/09 n/a
1202736 09/14/13 Craig Irwin 20130914
1203340 04/30/14 Paul Martzen 2013 flood notes
1204573 04/28/15 Craig Irwin 201504
1204610 05/03/15 Craig Irwin 22
1204611 05/03/15 Craig Irwin 22
1204617 05/05/15 Craig Irwin 20222
1215630 07/27/20 wreeves updated image position
1215629 07/27/20 wreeves updated image position
1204875 07/07/15 Craig Irwin 201507