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Old 05-26-2004   #1
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 3
Rating Rapids

OK so I am relatively new at the sport and a bit ignorant but I cannot seem to find a site that rates the locals rivers. I found the flows but I would still like to know what the stretches are rated. It would also be helpful to know exactly where to launch and exactly where to exit. Are there any websites (besides this one) or books you can recommend with this info?

I live in Lyons and I want to locate good Class III stretches to run but I don't want to get in over my head (no pun intended).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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Old 05-26-2004   #2
badkins's Avatar
Laramie, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 488

I think you're best bets are Lower North Saint Vrain, Lower Poudre, and Brown's canyon on the Ark.

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Old 05-26-2004   #3
Short Bus Driver, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2000
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The best info around is in Colorado Rivers and Creeks II. It is a great resource for all the boating in the Colorado area.
The cynic knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing!
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Old 05-26-2004   #4
Chief Niwot's Avatar
West of Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
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Posts: 643
I like akahn's Post on Rapid Rating

International System for Rating Rapids
This section © 2002 by David Petterson of Calgary Paddlers.

From akahn post (

Class I, Easy. Fast moving water with riffles and small waves.
Swimming is pleasant, shore easily reached. A nice break from
paddling. Almost all gear and equipment is recovered. Boat is just
slightly scratched.

Class II, Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels
which are evident without scouting. Swimming to eddies requires
moderate effort. Climbing out of river may involve slippery rocks and
shrub-induced lacerations. Paddle travels great distance downstream
requiring lengthy walk. Something unimportant is missing. Boat hits
submerged rock leaving visible dent on frame or new gash in plastic.

Class III, Intermediate. Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which
may be difficult to avoid. Water is swallowed. Legs are ground
repeatedly against sharp, pointy rocks. Several eddies are missed
while swimming. Difficult decision to stay with boat results in
moment of terror when swimmer realizes they are downstream of boat.
Paddle is recirculated in small hole way upstream. All personal
possessions are removed from boat and floated in different
directions. Paddling partners run along river bank shouting helpful
instructions. Boat is munched against large boulder hard enough to
leave series of deep gouges. Sunglasses fall off.

Class IV, Advanced. Water is generally lots colder than Class III.
Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise swimming
in turbulent water. Swimming may require `must' moves above dangerous
hazards. Must moves are downgraded to `strongly recommended' after
they are missed. Sensation of disbelief experienced while about to
swim large drops. Frantic swimming towards shore is alternated with
frantic swimming away from shore to avoid strainers. Rocks are clung
to with death grip. Paddle is completely forgotten. One shoe is
removed. Hydraulic pressure permanently removes waterproof box with
all the really important stuff. Paddle partners running along stream
look genuinely concerned while lofting throw ropes 20 feet behind
swimmer. Paddle partners stare slack-jawed and point in amazement at
boat which is finally pinned by major feature. Climbing up river bank
involves inverted tree. One of those spring loaded pins that attaches
watch to wristband is missing. Contact lenses are moved to rear of

Class V, Expert. The water in this rapid is usually under 42 degrees
F. Most gear is destroyed on rocks within minutes if not seconds. If
the boat survives, it is need of about three days of repair. There is
no swimming, only frantic movements to keep from becoming one with
the rocks and to get a breath from time to time. Terror and panic set
in as you realize your paddle partners don't have a chance in heck of
reaching you. You come to a true understanding of the terms
maytagging and pinballing. That hole that looked like nothing when
scouted, has a hydraulic that holds you under the water until your
lungs are close to bursting. You come out only to realize you still
have 75% of the rapid left to swim. Swim to the eddy? What #%^&*#*
eddy!? This rapid usually lasts a mile or more. Hydraulic pressure
within the first few seconds removes everything that can come off
your body. This includes gloves, shoes, neoprene socks, sunglasses,
hats, and clothing. The rocks take care of your fingers, toes, and
ears. That $900.00 dry suit, well it might hold up to the rocks. Your
paddle is trash. If there is a strainer, well, just hope it is old
and rotten so it breaks. Paddle partners on shore are frantically
trying to run and keep up with you. Their horror is reflected in
their faces as they stare at how you are being tossed around! They
are hoping to remember how to do CPR. They also really hope the
cooler with the beer is still intact. They are going to need a cold
one by the time you get out! Climbing out of this happens after the
rapid is over. You will probably need the help of a backboard,
cervical collar and Z-rig. Even though you have broken bones,
lacerations, puncture wounds, missing digits & ears, and a
concussion, you won't feel much pain because you will have severe
hypothermia. Enjoy your stay in the hospital: with the time you take
recovering, you won't get another vacation for 3 years.

Class VI, World Class. Not recommended for swimming.
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Old 05-26-2004   #5
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 194
I love that class 1-5 description for swimming. Funny stuff.

Open Boater, I see your locale is Ned so I can't close are we to getting some of the top water from Barker? I thought it was supposed to pour over a week ago?

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Old 05-26-2004   #6
ski_kayak365's Avatar
Mountains on the river!!!, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 702

Im living in estes park for the summer with fri-sun off. i will be doing a lot of boating in boulder, lyons, and golden when the water goes up somemore. i will be in golden this fri at the playpark, and hopefully lower cc. if your interested, let me know.

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Old 05-26-2004   #7
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Seattle, Washington
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 1,471
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I'm not a Ned head, but Barker is damn close to spilling. I drove by it on Monday and it was close. Unfortunately the inflow from the source is the same as the outflow for the moment so it won't spill until the next warm spout.
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Old 05-26-2004   #8
denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 172
colorado creeks and rivers II is the best resource

ccrII is considered the best guide book(bible) for whitewater in colorado. The "bible" will tell you were to put in and where you should take out as well as a concise description of rapids. Be aware that the book is written by very experienced river runners, class III and IV rapids are in a grey area sometimes. ccrII is also very interesting reading while waiting for boating partners to arrive.
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Old 05-26-2004   #9
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West of Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 643
The middle Boulder Creek water behind Barker is complicated by city of Boulder moving water from Barker to Kosseler (SP?) and to the hydo plant versus it spilling and come in down the creek. I spoke with the dam manager a week ago or so and he said that if the right conditions develop we could see 250-300 CFS in the creek for a short period. He told me that the water managers still thought we have not seen peak run off. Not sure what conditions we need, but I think we need a hot days and warm nights to get the inflow cranking? It has been getting down to freezing up here at night and it has been cool the last few days. And today, it is really windy, not good.
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Old 05-26-2004   #10
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 33
Re: colorado creeks and rivers II is the best resource

Originally Posted by SSOWDEN
Be aware that the book is written by very experienced river runners, class III and IV rapids are in a grey area sometimes. ccrII is also very interesting reading while waiting for boating partners to arrive.
Agree ccrII is the best we've got. But you make a very valid point saying this was written by very experenced boaters who sometimes get confused as to what a class III rapid is. Generally, you can upgrade the rapids by half to one grade.

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