Big Thompson, Colorado, US
|Usual Difficulty||II-IV+(V+) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||102 fpm|
|Max Gradient||266 fpm|
|BIG THOMPSON RIVER BELOW LAKE ESTES|
|codwr-BTBLESCO0||200 - 500 cfs||II-IV+(V+)||01h42m||316 cfs (running)|
From Lake Estes to the handicap access fishing pier (9 miles) is II-IV
Alternate put in below the dam but beware of the fence just past the first bridge. There was once an easy to sneak on river right.
The short section of hair boating is from the fishing pier down about 1/2 mile.
From the bottom of the hair into Drake is three miles of fun class IV with the occasional sticky hole. There are two super fun IV+ rapids in the middle that are back to back at moderate levels.
September 2013 Colorado received record rainfall within a five day period that has now completely changed the Big Thompson River. Lives were lost in this series of storms and the Big Thompson River redirected flows and removed roadways in the canyon. In the Gnar-gnar section, the last (bedrock) rapid looks to be the same or nearly so, but all other rapids are different.
Big Thompson, early June 2014 Update:
From Ian (Deepsouthpaddler): Ran it this weekend at 600-700. Last drop in gnar is horrible.
Strainer between gnar and drake rapid. Drake rapid has changed. Looks more serious. Put in below
Drake big drop.
In general the run felt easier to me than the old run. The channel has been reshaped. Portage ugly culvert in Drake. The dam at Idlewild is gone. Some interesting new drops that were lower intensity than the old set below the dam.
The old takeout park was completely obliterated. The stretch just above that old park has some meaty holes that can induce swims.
From Suigereneris: Two culvert bridges unfortunately, one obvious and one indeed in Cedar Park but avoidable if you keep you eyes open as it is gray and seamlessly subtle at various flow levels. No tree at Cheery store. Upper section rocks as well.
Nature spoke previously, in July 31, 1976 when the Big Thompson watershed
experienced a 10,000 year flood event, a 20 foot wall of water moving 60 miles an hour tore down
the canyon killing 144 people. NOAA
summary of the flood
To Get There: Hwy 34 between Estes Park and Loveland runs beside the river. Various put-in and take-out options exist. The best run is from the hair section (obvious from the road) down to Drake.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
Steep junky drop of about 15'