Oh Be Joyful Creek - 01. Ankle Breaker to Beaver Ponds

Oh Be Joyful Creek, Colorado, US


01. Ankle Breaker to Beaver Ponds (OBJ)

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 400 fpm
Max Gradient 400 fpm

Super flat landing...ouch!

Super flat landing...ouch!
Photo of Brian Adkins by Matt Stiegler taken 06/01/02 @ low water

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-385106106571000 500 - 1800 cfs V 64d07h12m ~ 25.6 cfs (too low)

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 it’s 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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2013-08-06 18:52:05


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Ankle Breaker5.2Putin Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.1Heart Attack5.0Waterfall Photo
0.31st big slide on upper OBJ (name?)5.0Waterfall Photo
0.4Dead Zone5.1Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.5Last big slide on upper OBJ (name?)5.0Access Waterfall Photo
0.6Avalanche (name?)5.1Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.7Pick-Up Sticks (name?)5.0Portage Hazard Waterfall Photo
0.9Ode to Joy (name?)5.0Waterfall Photo
1.0Oh Be Grateful (name?)5.0Takeout Waterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Ankle Breaker (Class 5.2)

Ankle Breaker Falls

Ankle Breaker Falls
Photo of Ankle Breaker Falls by Ed Hansen taken 06/01 @ Medium

Heart Attack (Class 5.0, Mile 0.1)

Heart Attack Falls

Heart Attack Falls
Photo of Heart Attack Falls by Ed Hansen taken 06/01 @ Medium

1st big slide on upper OBJ (name?) (Class 5.0, Mile 0.3)

1st big slide on OBJ

1st big slide on OBJ
Photo by Brian Adkins taken 06/01 @ Medium

Dead Zone (Class 5.1, Mile 0.4)

The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone
Photo of unknown by Matt Stiegler taken 06/01/02 @ low water

Last big slide on upper OBJ (name?) (Class 5.0, Mile 0.5)

Last slide of upper OBJ

Last slide of upper OBJ
Photo of Last slide of upper OBJ by Ed Hansen taken 06/01 @ Medium

Avalanche (name?) (Class 5.1, Mile 0.6)

Running Avalanche Falls

Running Avalanche Falls
Photo of Avalanche Falls by Ed Hansen taken 06/01 @ Medium

Pick-Up Sticks (name?) (Class 5.0, Mile 0.7)

Log Jam

Log Jam
Photo of Log jam on the lower 1/2 by Ed Hansen taken 06/01 @ Medium

Ode to Joy (name?) (Class 5.0, Mile 0.9)

Ode to Joy

Ode to Joy
Photo of Matt Stiegler by Matt Stiegler taken 06/01/02 @ low water

Oh Be Grateful (name?) (Class 5.0, Mile 1.0)

Oh Be Grateful

Oh Be Grateful
Photo of Matt Stiegler by Matt Stiegler taken 06/01/02 @ low water

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 28 2006 (4584 days ago)
Fremont ShieldsDetails
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!
March 20 2002 (6146 days ago)
Matt MuirDetails
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 Amen Last
Dance Oh Be Grateful Had to Go Chiropractor Falls from BT
(http://boatertalk.com/forum/BoaterTalk/147717): Hallelujah Praise God Rise up Gonna Fly Now
Nirvana Hey you get off of my cloud Come Down Last Drop ER Don't Worry, Be Happy Ode to Joy Hands
to Heaven White Angel Angel Falls Smirk 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 Steve Reap the Rocket Cleanin' House Homo-destructus. 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.

Associated Projects

  • Forest Planning (CO)
    AW is involved in a number of different Forest Planning efforts in Colorado, working directly with the public and the United States Forest Service to secure better protections for rivers.
  • Gunnison Basin (Colorado) Stewardship Program
    Our new Gunnison River Basin program will define and protect recreational flow needs as part of regional and broader Upper Colorado River Basin stewardship strategies. By quantifying flow needs in the