South Platte - 05. Waterton Canyon

South Platte, Colorado, US


05. Waterton Canyon (Confluence to Strontia Springs Reservoir)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (for normal flows)
Length 1 Miles
Avg. Gradient 74 fpm

Catching the eddy

Catching the eddy
Photo of Kraig Lund by Will Reeves @ 480 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
codwr-PLASPLCO0 300 - 5000 cfs III-IV 01h49m 180 cfs (too low)

River Description

The South Platte below the confluence is a delightful but short run.  The only drawback is the takeout, which involves walking back up to the cars.  That walk out is certainly one of the easiest in the Rockies as it follows an almost flat old road bed.


The Waterton Canyon run starts out as a mild moving stream with only a few small waves.  After about an 1/8 to a 1/4 mile the river picks up and the run starts to develop character.  The longest rapid is S turn which is fairly continuous for about a 1/4 to half mile.  The river has plenty of play spots but the rocks are sharp so be careful when you flip.


S turn ends in a pool with an ominous looking horizon line at most medium to low flows.  At higher flow you will not stop till you hit the takeout.


The horizon line marks Green Bridge rapid.  This drop is fairly straightforward except you should be careful of rebar on the old bridge piling if you choose one of the less obvious lines.  Most people boat down the left at normal flows.


Immediately below Green Bridge Rapid is a small pool that is followed up by Avalanche/Land slide rapid.  While this drop looks ominous it is straightforward on the right but has a broaching rock on river left.


After another small pool you will arrive at Vertical Blender.  This drop has two distinct ledges and some solid holes.  The bottom of Vertical Blender is the lake and the takeout.


If you hit this run a high flows the whole things is one big rapid.


For historical reasons everyone should be aware that a great whitewater canyon was once downstream of Waterton but this was inundated by the DWB.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-05-09 22:56:34


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.3S-Turn / InitiationIIIPlayspot Photo
0.6Green Bridge RapidIII+Photo
1.0Vetical BlenderIII+Takeout Playspot Photo

Rapid Descriptions

S-Turn / Initiation (Class III, Mile 0.3)

S turn

S turn
Photo of Jeff by Will Reeves taken 09/27/07 @ 480 cfs

This is a extensive almost 1/2 mile long rapid.  Most of this is wave train with holes and eddies.

Green Bridge Rapid (Class III+, Mile 0.6)

Green Bridge Rapid

Green Bridge Rapid
Photo of Kraig Lund by Will Reeves @ 480 cfs

Green Bridge Rapid follows a short pool after S turn.  This rapid is most straightforward on river left but there are some tight lines through the rocks on the right.  Beware of rebar int eh middle of the river.

Avalanche/Landslide (Class III, Mile 0.8)


Photo of Al Johnston by Will Reeves @ 480 cfs

The name says it all.  There was a landslide on river left and this fairly straight forward drop is what you have to negotiate.  The right side line is easier than the left (which has a pinning/broach rock).

Vetical Blender (Class III+, Mile 1.0)

Vertical Blender

Vertical Blender
Photo of Kraig Lund by Will Reeves @ 480 cfs

Vertical Blender is a series of two ledges with some nice waves and stomping holes.  Playboating here is ok at some levels.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.

No Comments

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.

Or, consider donating