Difficulty V
Length 1 Miles
Flow Range 500 - 1800 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 43 minutes ago ~ 13.9 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 05/21/2019 2:52 am

River Description

Over the past few years Oh Be Joyful Creek has become the most popular Class V creek run in all of Colorado. The sickening gradient slides down generally smooth flat slate resulting in surprisingly easy lines. Don't take it too lightly though, the swims are few but there is potential for epic carnage. The creek has taken on the nickname "Oh Be Careful". This run gets dramatically easier the more times you've run it. After the 2nd or 3rd time down most competent Class V boaters can bomb it in less than 10 minutes without breaking a sweat.

The upper and lower ½?s of the creek are very different, even though the gradient is about the same. The upper 1/2 has the big waterfalls, a 25' fall and two 18' falls. Most boaters put in below the first one, Ankle Breaker, it has rocks in the landing zone. Don't bother boofing either of the 2 big waterfalls below, a hole thrashing at the bottom is a lot less painful than a 2 story drop landed flat. This section is generally a little less frantic than the lower half, as it is much easier to eddy hop your way down. There is very little wood in the upper half, so some boaters take out just above the huge avalanche path that crosses over the creek, the start of the lower half.

The lower half is characterized by a big string of amazing long and steep slides interspersed with river-wide logjams climaxing in a shotgun blast over a 12' sliding-waterfall at the very end. The eddies are there, but you get going so fast itÂs like a gravity beam pulling you into the big drops. It is generally possible to "wheel-chair" your way over and off the backside of the worst logjams, although some do chose to portage. Don't boat down to the confluence with the Slate, take out river left at the end of the large pool just below the last slide/waterfall.

Check out the pics at Mountainbuzz.com, and Ed Hansen's Web Gallery. There are some awesome pics of the US Steep Creek Championships taken in June(Brrr!) at Julie Keller's website.,

To get there: From the OBJ camprground you will have to cross the Slate River. High clearance vehicles can ford the river, but there are many casualties each year. If you're going to drive across make sure you know that the air intake is high enough that it won't suck up water, and use granny gear to crawl acrss the river very slowly. The put-in is one mile up the road at a flat rocky meadow to your left, it should be obvious that lots of vehicles have been there and the vegetation is getting smooshed badly. If you have strong legs please hike your boats up:-)

The Quadruple Crown: Because of the short length and proximity of the Crested Butte creeks all 4 of them can be run in the same day. The East River is the best to start out with; it has the largest flow and the least gradient of the four. Next in line is Daisy Creek. Just continue downstream after Daisy to the confluence with the Slate River; there will be about 1 mile of slack water until the first rapid. The takeout for the Slate River is the same as Oh Be Joyful Creek so just walk or drive up to the OBJ put-in from there.

Rapid Descriptions

Ankle Breaker

Class - 5.2 Mile - 0

Heart Attack

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.1

1st big slide on upper OBJ

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.3

Dead Zone

Class - 5.1 Mile - 0.4

Last big slide on upper OBJ

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.5


Class - 5.1 Mile - 0.6

Pick-Up Sticks

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.7

Ode to Joy

Class - 5.0 Mile - 0.9

Oh Be Grateful

Class - 5.0 Mile - 1


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Fremont Shields
14 years ago

This is probably well known, but seems like a lot of injuries happen every year on the 25 footer when people go too far right. If you run this falls you want to be left of center. A big ledge lays just beneath the surface on the right side. Be careful and have fun!

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Matt Muir
18 years ago

Well, Ed Hansen wanted a name for the rapid in the picture above ("Shotgunblast, photo # 1508). I asked the crowds at rec.boats.paddle and at Boater Talk to "Name that Rapid!" Everyone's got an opinion. Read on!

From RBP:
Last Shot
Flush lever
Thundering Tower
Last Dance
Oh Be Grateful
Had to Go
Chiropractor Falls

from BT (http://boatertalk.com/forum/BoaterTalk/147717):
Praise God
Rise up
Gonna Fly Now
Hey you get off of my cloud
Come Down
Last Drop
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Ode to Joy
Hands to Heaven
White Angel
Angel Falls
Angel Hair
Angel Hair Pasta
White Chocolate Crunch
Orgasm--especially since it's the *last* rapid and the *climax* of Oh, Be Joyful Creek
Cosmic Debris or
Zero The Hero and if I'd been on the run with them maybe:
I Walk Alone
Got Cajones? or
BYOB (Bring Your Own Balls)
Men or Mice
Gummy Bear or
Cupcake or
Pansy or
Mary Poppins....or
Scared as Hell
Maybe Next Time
Mangled Human Remains
Drift and Die
Poseidon's Revenge
Kraken's Spatula
welcome climax
Reap the Rocket
Cleanin' House

But "BigHelmet" sez:
'It has a name many already know, "The last rapid on Oh-Be."'

Me, I kinda like the ones like Ode to Joy and Amen. And I like "Cosmic Debris" for the wood-choked rapid (# 1506); Jesse Kodadek suggests "dumber 'n shit" or "big stiff woody" for that one.

The decision on the rapids' names will doubtless be up to those who run the crick.

Gage Descriptions

This creek is fed entirely by the days snowmelt so the later you put on the higher the flow will be. Peak flows are at sunset or shortly after.

Before June look for minimum flows of 700 cfs or higher. Early in the season the gauges, located far downstream of the actual reach, are mostly reading snow melt from lower elevations.

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.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2011-07-18 n/a Near Miss/Rescue Darkness Read More



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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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Help Protect Crested Butte Area Rivers and Creeks under Wild and Scenic Act

Kestrel Kunz

The Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests (GMUG) are conducting a Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Evaluation as part of the current Forest Plan Revision process. While the Forest Service is mandated to conduct an Eligibility Study as part of the Plan Revision process, this opportunity only happens every 15-20 years and we need to ensure that the Study is comprehensive and robust. We need YOU to share your love and knowledge of these rivers with the Forest Service! We've put together an easy-to-use tool for you to submit comments here. Please consider personalizing your comments and take the time to review the Forest Service's Story Map of the Eligibility Evaluation. 

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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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Gunnison Flow Study: Success, Next steps underway

Chris Menges

American Whitewater is pleased release a full report on the results of our summer 2013 Gunnison River Flow Survey, in addition to recommendations for regional water managers. This data will enable the management community to better evaluate opportunities to protect recreational flows in the Gunnison Basin now and into the future. Please read the post for full results and how we are using them.

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Action Alert: Take the Gunnison River Flow Survey, win KEEN shoes

Chris Menges

If you have ever paddled Gunnison Basin Runs like Oh-Be-Joyful, the Taylor, the Uncompahgre, the Black Canyon or Gunnison Gorge, please help us protect flows on these western Colorado gems by completing the Gunnison River Flow Survey. When you do, we'll enter you in a drawing to win a free pair of KEENS!

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Gunnison and Crested Butte, CO paddlers meetings - May 21 and 23

Chris Menges

AW will be hosting public meetings for local boaters in Gunnison, CO on May 21 and in Crested Butte, CO on May 23. These ‘regional paddlers dialogues’ are a part of our efforts to define and protect recreational flow needs throughout the seven-state Colorado River Basin, including many stream segments throughout the Gunnison Basin.

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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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2013 Gunnison Flow Survey is live. Share your thoughts & protect rivers!

Chris Menges

American Whitewater (AW) is pleased to announce the launch of our 2013 Gunnison River Basin Flow Survey. By participating in the survey, you can help us define recreational flow needs thoughout the Basin, and protect flows in the future. Your participation is incredibly valuable; the more responses we get, the more robust our findings will be which will strengthen our represention of paddler interest.

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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!

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Ask Your Senators to Modernize Our Nation’s Hardrock Mining Policy

Ben Van Camp

Help Preserve Whitewater & Paddling Throughout the Deserts and Mountains of the West. Reforming the 1872 Mining Law will, finally, give recreation values a voice on how our federal public lands are managed



Molly Buirgy


Chris Menges


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1193164 04/19/09 Molly Buirgy n/a
1212458 05/21/19 Chris Menges updated image position
1202543 08/06/13 Chris Menges ppp
1202512 08/06/13 Chris Menges coords