Best III/IV kayak runs in Denver/Vail/Buena Vista area - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-06-2010   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 207
Best III/IV kayak runs in Denver/Vail/Buena Vista area

Will be coming out in June for my annual trip. Look for some good class III/IV runs, but don't want to get my ass kicked too badly, as I paddled a ducky until about a year ago. Roll is pretty bomb proof, but I'm not sure I'm good enough at maneuvering to do that much creeking, though I enjoy it. That said, I've paddled a fair bit in the past year and feel I could do Brown's Canyon or the Blue on the high side, or maybe something a bit tougher. Here's the runs I've done in those areas. I can always repeat something I've previously done, but wouldn't mind adding on a couple new runs if people have any ideas. I'm also always on the lookout for boating buddies.

Previously run in area:

Brown's Canyon
Blue(that pretty consistent stretch of class III whitewater--somewhere near Frisco, I think)
Eagle (class III stretch)
North fork of St. Vrain(Shelly's cottages)
Northgate Canyon(probably won't head north unless someone has some really inspiring suggestions)

Thanks for any and all suggestions!

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Old 04-07-2010   #2
Paddling Since: 96
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The Taylor. On the Ark; the Fractions, the Narrows, Granite and possibly the Numbers if the water isn't too high. Other sections of the Ark down stream depending on water levels. Eleven Mile Canyon with a guide would be doable and is *really* beautiful.

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Old 04-07-2010   #3
Shit Creek, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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Check out Dumont on Clear Creek for a good (but short) IV run. Below is the Idahos Springs town run, takeout at Kermits. This is a nice III run, not big, pretty obvious lines, and all but 400 yds is scoutable from roads. I learned to boat on this run and still have a lot of fun on it. The review on eddyflower that says it is flat was written by people who boat big water IV or V all the time. It is however full of sharp rocks from the I70 work 40+ yrs ago so swims pretty much suck. Also, if you head up to the Poudre, lots of nice III/IV runs and pretty much all rounded rocks.
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Old 04-07-2010   #4
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Steamboat, Colorado
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The Poudre at most flows has great III/IV. Stevens Gulch down is (guestimate) 15 miles of what your looking for, I love that canyon. At higher flows there will be some bigger classIV but all sections are easily to portage around.
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Old 04-07-2010   #5
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Denver, Colorado
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The poudre or the ark are probably going to give you the biggest variety, and the best options to step it up if you want to (middle narrows on the poudre, pine creek on the ark).
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Old 04-07-2010   #6
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
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I agree strongly with the Poudre suggestion. If you haven't been up there it's a beautiful area with lots of class III/IV water. Read up on it but depending on the water level anything from upper Mish down could be a go, and if flows are high you can check out some of the stuff above the narrows sections.

In the Vail area also check out Gore Creek. It's a III/IV creek that is pretty straightforward with some play and the novelty of boating through the heart of Vail.

The quality is not as good, but you can do the middle and lower Ten Mile creek above Lake Dillion. It's right off the highway so it's quick and convenient.

As other people have mentioned, Clear Creek above Golden is a treasure for after work metro Denver boaters, though I'm not sure the overall experience is as high quality as the Ark or Poudre for an out of towner. But, if you're in the area and want to run something, lower Clear Creek, the "Kermit's run", and the Lawson/Dumont to Idaho Springs run all have some fun whitewater and are in the class III/IV range, though probably a nick tougher than most of the other runs mentioned here (lots of blasted rock in the creek bed and pretty continuous).

Now when I go to Austin for Thanksgiving, are you going to show me the central Texas goods?
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Old 04-07-2010   #7
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Many good suggestions so far. My top vote for what it sounds like your looking for is full-day Granite/Numbers (with PC portage), or Numbers/Fractions - if the flow is >1000.
Some other options include:
Roaring Fork - Woody Creek bridge down
Fryingpan - Seven Castles to Basalt (lower)
Colorado - Shoshone
Crystal - Avalanche down
Lower Ark - Parkdale, Royal Gorge
South Platte - Waterton (just below Foxton)
Rio Grande - Box Canyon (below RG reservoir)

most of these are a little farther from Denver (except Waterton and lower Ark), but they are all worth considering.
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Old 04-07-2010   #8
Tempe, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1980
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Further south, 1 hr east/outside of Durango is the Piedra class III, IV run (box). Two distinct runs. Very remote and fun. Upper part is III and lower IV. The big rapids are drop pool (box run) and can be portaged. After the big rapids, its continuous 3 with good surfing (box run)
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Old 04-07-2010   #9
Denver, Colorado
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far, definitely some good stuff to think about. I wish I could hook you up over Thanksgiving, but I'm leaving Austin in August. But our male to female ratio beats the hell out of CO, so that might be the goods you want to check out. And if there is water, get on and someone will hook you up...there are a few decent runs, though nothing like CO.
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Old 04-07-2010   #10
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Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
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For Class III/IV, can't beat the Ark! Hit up Browns on day 1. If that feels easy, do Granite through Numbers, and maybe all the way to BV on day 2. If Browns goes well, but not easy, just hit Numbers and take your time scouting!
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