Cache La Poudre, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||V+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||134 fpm|
|Max Gradient||218 fpm|
|LA POUDRE PASS CREEK BELOW LONG DRAW RESERVOIR|
|codwr-LAPLODCO0||350 - 950 cfs||V+||92d19h40m||0 cfs (too low)|
Pinball Wizard, Rock Lobster, Starter Fluid, Barroom Brawl, Bonk, Nitrogen Narcosis, Prime Time Gorge, Pincushion, The Rush, and Tubular Balls are all V to V- at reasonable water levels, and can be run without scouting if you have a good guide to lead you down.
Taco Bobs, and Fantasy Flight are in the Class V territory, but they have some really ugly lines you want to check out before jumping in. Slideways is another good scout, itÂs a classic long and steep Class V studded with big holes.
The truly big Class V+/VI- rapids of the Big South are Cool World, Meltdown, and Double Trouble. Cool World is especially dangerous because it looks like itÂs just another Class IV rapid from the top. Be very cautious until youÂre past it! The final drop of Cool World slams directly into an undercut cliff on river right. Meltdown is a two-step cascade with a sieve at the bottom. ItÂs the hardest rapid to portage, so sometimes it seems like itÂs "almost" easier to just run the rapid! Double Trouble is a big double waterfall. The hole at the bottom is considered by many to be in the top five scariest hydraulics in Colorado, which is saying a lot!
The only real negative to Big South is the short season. The Forest Service keeps the road to the Long Draw Reservoir (the putin) gated until all snow has melted from it, even in a big year there is sometimes only a week or two of water left after the gate finally opens. This leaves you with two unpleasant alternative to bag the big water of early summer. One, you simply hike upriver from the takeout as far as your lungs and legs can carry you. Two, hike down from the source of the Poudre near Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. This alternative is far easier than hiking up from the bottom, and Trail Ridge Road is guaranteed to be open for the tourists by Memorial Day at the latest, but requires a 4+ hours of shuttle driving.
For a great article about running Big South from RMNP check out coloradokayaking.com.
For pics of Big South and many other Colorado classics check out my Webshots photo album.
To get there: The takeout is at the Big South Campground on Co Hwy 14. To drive to the put-in head towards Cameron Pass about a mile until you see a well marked Forest Service sign to Long Draw Reservoir. Head up this dirt road and put-in at the outlet of the reservoir.
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.
Big South (Class V/VI),
Joe Wright Creek (Class V),
Spencer Heights (Class V/VI),
South Fork (Class IV/V),
White Mile Run/Upper Rustic (Class III),
Grandpa's Gorge/Lower Rustic (Class III/IV),
The Narrows (Class IV/V/V+),
Upper Mishawaka (Class III/IV),
Lower Mishiwaka (Class III),
Poudre Park (Class IV),
Bridges (Class III/IV),
Upper North Fork (Class IV/V),
Lower North Fork (Class II/III), and
Filter Plant (Class III).
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Long Draw Reservoir||II|
|3.2||Bar Room Brawl||5.0|
|8.0||Prime Time Gorge||IV+|
Sweet little waterfall that starts of the goods!
The entrance to this waterfall has a right and a left line, I refer to them as ugly and uglier.
Tricky entrance that gains momentum before launching into and undercut cliff.
Two stage drop. The first drop has a hole at higher water that looks like a jet engine. The second drop sieves. Often has wood problem, particularily in the entrance.
This isn't one of the more distinctive rapids, it kinda blends in with the continuous IV above and below, but is a shade harder.
Very fun rapids in a small gorge. Frequently has wood problems.
This is the big daddy of the Big South. Epic hole rides are too be expected.
It's big but straight forward. After 10 miles your definately starting to feel it. The hardest rapid at high water.