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Old 07-26-2006   #1
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11
South Platte near Chatfield

Can anyone give me some good information on the South Platte stretch after Chatfield. I'm new to Colorado have really only kayaked Clear Creek and am taking some beginners this Saturday. I was thinking Clear Creek but there will be about 13 of us so to make the day a little more manageable I thought I'd see about the South Platte near Chatfield.

Where do you put in? Where is the best place to take out? What is the run like? Is there decent whitewater that would still make it fun even if it is very easy? How long is the run?

Basically I know nothing about this other than you could do a 4 mile run and get out by the Platte River Bar and grill. Also do you know if the level there is decent enough now?

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Old 07-26-2006   #2
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
I've never floated the entire section, but can give the following advice:

Probably best above 500 cfs, 200 probably a minimum, fun above 1000.
Check Chatfield gage before you leave, it changes frequently due to reservoir releases.

Water is clean relative to confluence park, but still smelly and murky. Very smelly muddy river banks.
Some people have said they love the float. I wouldn't refer to it as "quality" in any sense of the word.
Just like taking home a fat chick, it might be more bearable if adult beverages are enjoyed before/during/after.

Right now, Deckers (South Fork of South Platte River) is running at a decent level. About 45 minutes outside town, but a really beautiful canyon and nice beginner float (Class II - II+). That would be my recommendation.

Have fun!

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Old 07-26-2006   #3
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 11
Thanks for the site. Does anybody know anything else about this stretch of river?
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Old 07-26-2006   #4
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 41
You access the put-in off of C-470, just west of Santa Fe. The Platte River Grill is a good take and place to have a margarita afterwards.

I disagree with Mr. Orion - the run is quite scenic for its urban location and the smell is not an issue. The water is murky but so is most of the water we kayak in around here.

The run has some man made boat chute type drops in it. The biggest are one right at the put in and then about two thirds or so of the way down there are three larger ones in a row. They can easily be portaged if you have rank beginners with you that aren't up for it. The rest of the run is pretty much flat water class ! and II.

I agree that the run is better with more water. The water talk gauge at Chatfield is the one to check (303-831-7135, then 1 and then 68#). I wouldn't bother unless it was running at least 400 cfs.

Have fun!
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Old 07-26-2006   #5
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
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S. Platte @ C-470

You ask for info on this site, and you'll get a ton of opinions.

The C-470 section of the South Platte is a great beginner section. The drops are far enough apart that you'll have plenty of time to get on line and the drops are easy to spot. You'll see marker rocks for every drop. Just go between the rocks. The water is released out the bottom Chatfield Res., so it's all controlled by Denver Water. The river flows through a bird protection area and natural waterlands (I think that's where Dan comes up with the mud comment). It's cool lots of awesome bird watching. The normal take out is located aroung the Platte River Bar and Grill (cool place to eat after a river trip.).

The best levels are easy to spot from the put in. Got enough water to run the first drops= it's good to go. The first drop is bone dry= pack-up the car and head to Deckers. As far as the 1000 cfs- well thats not going to happen. I've only ever seen that water level on the C-470 section a handfull of times in the last 9 years. 200-700 cfs maybe- over a grand don't hold your breath.

There is also a bike path following the entire river. Have fun and be safe.
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Old 07-26-2006   #6
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Indian Hills, Colorado
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Sounds like I oughta take a float down to the Platte River Grill and see for myself. Always down for good bird watching. My comments were based on having riden the bike trail, which is a pleasant ride I might add.
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Old 07-26-2006   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I think the minimum for a run is about 300 and it’s a great run for beginners. If they swim it’s not very deep so they seen to stand up without issues. Seems the only deep water is right after all the drops. Some drops are made from rock and the boat chutes down towards the end are concrete. The third boat chute (first one on the left side) has a pretty good surf wave that’s fun to sit on for a while. Take out at the Platte River Grill and have a burger and margarita.

Water levels are dependent on downstream water calls and is controlled by the Army Corps. They were releasing 1200 for a few days a couple of weeks ago since there was so much rain coming down. They had to release because all the upstream dams were releasing. I will agree that the water smells a bit but mostly like dead fish from the reservoir.
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Old 07-27-2006   #8
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Dan O,LOL about the fat chicks adult beverages,we ran it a few weeks back,my friend had a scary neurological incident that caused us to cancel a 4 day camping trip when he got better we wanted something real mellow.The gauge said 370 ,barely enough to be worthwhile,a short ways into the run they turn the dam off.We had acar at Oxford so we kept going,it became a test of will to finish,I'll bet I knuckle dragged over 2 miles of it,Really Sucked!Like Don said if it's low at the put in go somewhere else.

If it has water the goes like this;drop at put in is 2 to 3 depending on flow sometimes playable then it is flat water thru nice riparian environment for about a mile,single drop at Mineral is 2/2+ depending on level can be pllayed a little,another mile of flat to Liegh Gulch 3 sets of class 2 drops{sometimes better} the 2nd middle drop can be fun to playin though narrow,1/2 mile flat to Mex. resteraunt,flat for a mile or so to Union,this part sucks if it's low, then Union followed by the u-hole,good play above 600 and a 2+ drop at Oxford,good squirt lines, parking access.After that it gets real lame and by then water quality is bad, ther are no drops until Pink Floyd{by the power station} excellent surfing at upwards of 700,flat to Ruby Hill big easy drop ,ther are a couple drops around Louisiana and Missiissippi,flat to Dead Dog { a German sheppard recirculated ther for prolonged period of time about 15 years ago} big straight forward drop not to be missed above 1500,flat to Confluence,ther is some sort of dam at Zuni st..It's all very easy and much more fun at real high flows.
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Old 07-27-2006   #9
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 335
ps ...extra credit,if you boat the part around Hampden you can carry up BEAR Crk. acouple hundred yards ,putin below a lowhead dam and run a short class3 creeky section with rock dodging and branches in your face ,a sort of jr. Lefthand CRK., it only lasts about 100 yds. then dies abruptly at the deadest water in the state.You can run Bear crk. above 175 cfs. from Sheridan to confluence,there are 3 or 4 3- drops then a flat section with a lot of strainers then the dam and creeky part.This run also has the dubious distintion of being able to put in and take out at MC DONALDS.
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Old 07-27-2006   #10
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
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Re: S. Platte @ C-470

Originally Posted by Don
You ask for info on this site, and you'll get a ton of opinions.

The C-470 section of the South Platte is a great beginner section. .
How do these drops compare to the ones below confluence park? I'm talking about the ones basically just across the street from confluence kayak. They sound very similiar.

My daughter ran those but I wouldn't want her to get into much more than that.


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