This photo needs editing.
Difficulty V
Length 2.5 Miles
Flow Range 150 - 450 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 hour ago 30.7 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 02/12/2009 11:33 am

River Description

In 2003 the mile above Hellum's Waterfall was cleaned out and 1st descented. This has doubled the length of the run! The new top 1/2 has a different character, it is not gorged up and the inbetween stuff is easier while the named drops are bigger. The first of these is Gun Shy (Class V), 4 big ledge drops back-to-back with big holes and undercuts on both sides. Shortly downstream is Harvey Wallbanger (Class V), this is one ugly rapid and destined to be carnage central for the Source. It already has a reputation! There is a summer home sitting right next to this rapid, you must tresspass to scout so be very stealth. Just downstream is Hellum's Waterfall. The left channel will bounce down a technical sluice before dropping off a 10' fall and the right channel is a straight shot at a 15' vertical. Both options have rocky landings, and both have been done without pitoning. At this point you are at the old put-in. If this is your 1st time down it is impossible to remember every single cascade in the lower section. So concentrate your scout on the big cascade near the bottom - Dead Hiker Falls. DeForrestation Rapid, the first below Hellums, cleaned up in 2003 and no longer requires a scout. Every other rapid can be run on the fly. At medium to low flows you can expect a few minor pins in-between the major rapids, this run is really abusive to your boat. Think "manky-town". At high water (400cfs+) the rocks are nicely padded out but the creek starts to push into the trees and the holes get evil.

Do all hiking and scouting from river right because there is private property on the left.

Pics of the Upper Source can be found at Brian Adkins Webshots album, and pics of the Lower Source on Mike Albrecht's Webshots album.

To get there: Drive south out of Nederland towards Central City. At the edge of town turn right on the road to Eldora Ski Area, 1/4 mile down the road go straight instead of left to Eldora. After driving through a small town the pavement will end, another mile or so down the dirt road you will come to a fork in the road. To the right is the Fourth of July Road which takes you to the put-in, to the left is the Hessie Road and the take-out.

To get to the new put-in drive about a mile past Hellum's Waterfall, which is very obvious from the road, to a campground on the left. The campground is an undeveloped flat grassy field of about an acre in size with a couple of fire rings scattered about. The creek is only 50 feet from the road and mellow Class II at that point.

The takeout is 1/2 mile up the left fork, Hessie Road, or you can boat Class II(with wood hazards) down to the fork of the road. This latter option is a good idea for low clearance cars.

See Colorado Rivers and Creeks II, by Banks and Eckardt (The Bible), for info on this and most of the other kewl runs of Colorado.

Lat/longitude coords are approximate, from TopoZone.

The various reaches of Boulder Creek,
Jasper Creek (Class V+/VI),
The Source (Class V),
Upper Boulder Canyon (Class V/V+),
Lower Boulder Canyon (Class IV),
Boulder Town Run (Class II/III),
North Fork Boulder (Class V+/VI),
Alto-Alto (Class IV),
Upper South Boulder (Class V+/VI),
Lower South Boulder (Class IV/V+/VI),
Eldorado Canyon (Class V+).

Rapid Descriptions


Class - II Mile - 0
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Put-in at a nice flat grassy field about an acre in size with a few fire rings scattered about.

Gun Shy

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
A series of 4 ledges back-to-back. The top drop has a must make boof to the right at the entrance, and has a sticky hole at the bottom with undercut rocks on both sides. The next 3 ledges are pretty simple.

Harvey Wallbanger

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.75
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The current slams hard into the river right cliff in this tricky drop. The move is a right to left scramble at the last moment. This rapid has become the scene of the vast majority of the carnage on the Source.

Hellums Waterfall

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1
This is a 15' fall that lands on a pile of rocks. In 2003 it was run down the small river left channel regularily, the line looks bad but no-one pitoned.


Class - IV Mile - 1.1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
An easy slide with a left turn halfway down.

the willows

Class - IV Mile - 1.2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Make sure to enter the river right channel into the willows directly after Kickstart. Ever been whipped by willows? This section has gotten seriously overgrown in the past few drought years with no flood water to scour out the overhanging vegetation so I've upgraded it to Class IV.

DeForrestation Rapid

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.3
This rapid changed in 2003. It is easier and safer than before, the line is still a boof left but the broach rock at the bottom moved several feet out away from the bottom. Be heads up for this drop after passing under the second foot bridge. The entrance rapid (IV-)is manky as hell.

1st Gorge

Class - IV+ Mile - 1.4
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
After some bony busy water there is a good 2 or 3 boat eddy on river right where you can boat scout the entrance to Slot Machine.

Slot Machine

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.5
At about 3' wide this is the tightest drop on the run. There is a flat piton rock in the landing zone, but a good boof stroke is difficult. You can eddy out on river right 50' downstream.

busy water

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.6
From here to Dead Hiker Falls it is continuous IV to V slides, ledges and boulder gardens. Keep on your toes and watch out for wood.

Dead Hiker Falls

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.8
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
This is the biggest cascade on the river. The second most likely rapid, after Harvey Wallbanger, to kick your ass.

more busy water

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1.9
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Continuos IV to V slides, ledges, and boulder gardens. About 100 yards below Dead Hiker Falls there is a short slide with an large eddy river right. Downstream, just after crossing under a large log that spans the whole stream, is a tricky little boulder drop that deserves a scout.

Cheese Grater

Class - III Mile - 2
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Cheese Grater is a metal hazard 10' upstream of the takeout. Takeout at the bridge crossing the creek or continue downstream another 1/4 mile through Class II with wood hazards to the fork of Hessie Road and Fourth of July Road.


default user thumbnail
Craig Irwin
14 years ago

Mank City, Colorado.
When we get a decent snow year, she'll go for a few weeks.
This run has some tricks.
Take your time to 'sus it out.

Gage Descriptions

The Colorado Division of Water Resources gauge is Middle Boulder Creek near Nederland.

Or: call Watertalk: 303/831-7135 Division 1 Station 94 - Middle Boulder Creek at Nederland.

Low: 150 - 300 cfs
Med: 300 - 450 cfs
High: 450 cfs and up

*Early season readings are deceptively high due to lower elevation snow melt below the run. However, late season readings are mostly based on the actual flow of the reach. So while a reading of 250 in May resulted in a bony run, a reading of 250 will be a well padded flow in July.

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

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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

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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

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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!


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193149 02/12/09 n/a n/a