South Platte - 08. Brighton City Park to Ft. Lupton

South Platte, Colorado, US


08. Brighton City Park to Ft. Lupton

Usual Difficulty I-II (for normal flows)
Length 7 Miles
Avg. Gradient 20 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-06721000 200 - 10000 cfs I-II 01h15m 322 cfs (running)
Exact minimum and maximums unknown, use caution.

River Description

Hazards: large omnipresent strainers, bridge abutments, and one dam which might be dangerous at some water levels.

The following description is kindly provided by Nathan Packham:

Go North from Denver on I-25 to I-76. Take I-76 East till Hwy-85. Go North on Hwy-85 until you get to the city of Brighton. Exit on Rte. 7 and put in at Veterans Park.

From the putin get back on Hwy-85 and go North 7 miles to Hwy-52 in Fort Lupton. Park in the dirt pull-off next to the river just at the bottom of the Hwy-52 off-ramp from Hwy 85.

This run is a great beginner run. I took my wife who has only been in a kayak a few times - but I wouldn't hesitate taking someone who had never been in a kayak. We went on a warm winter weekend when it was running about 200 cfs. We actually put in a couple miles downstream of the recommended put-in because with the flow so low we didn't want to be on the river all day. The run flows through farmland and prairie but is banked by trees on each side. Only a couple times does it angle over close enough to the highway for the traffic to be a distraction. We saw a bald eagle and some geese and something large splashed into the water behind us before we could see what it was. The dam was runnable - a six inch non-breaking wave with no recirculation - maybe it was lowered or opened for the winter somehow. It would be good to scout to make sure. 200 cfs was probably around the lowest it could be run by a kayak - we dragged bottom a couple times when we lost the sandy streambed. There are a few tires scattered along the run - and in one section the river bank is made of blasted concrete chunks. There are some nice views of the mountains in the distance. There are large fallen tree root tangles at many points in the river but they are easily seen far in advance and avoided.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-02-16 20:18:22


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.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 29 2012 (2428 days ago)
czachorj (154519)
The review above is spot on - prefect for beginners, but realistically, TOO slow. The water levels
were really low (day of float said 216cfs, but that was about as low as could be floated). We
scraped bottom a number of times - nothing where we had to get out and portage, but still low
enough that it was a hassle. To be truthful, at this level, it could be a class 1 all day long,
barring the first five minutes into the trip. My wife (first time "whitewater" kayaker) dumped
before we were out of Veterans Park on a ~5 ft. drop - mostly my fault for not providing a proper
"block of instruction". The rest of the day was "lazy river" - even the dam (which was open) was
uneventful. Higher waters would probably pose a risk where portage would be suggested, but we just
floated right under the dam doors and scratched the dam door bottom only slightly. Overall, a good
run for a true kayak "virgin" but most people who have been on a kayak and can paddle fairly well
will be looking for more. Overall trip time ~4 hours. Oh, almost forgot - the takeout section where
it says to park is closed (no parking signs in a few places) - we went over the bridge to the other
side of the river where there was a baseball field - there is a "road" behind the fields that leads
to river access - not a super clean takeout (vegetation, swampy areas) but you can park within 100
yards and takeout just the same - no issue, just be aware.