Help W/South Platte - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-05-2011   #1
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6
Help W/South Platte

Hi all -

Just bought my first boat, a Zoik Tandem IK, and I am dying to get on the water. Unfortunately, due to family circumstances, I can't get out of town for a while. So I was thinking it might pseudo-satiate my desires to float the South Platte through Denver. However, I know very little about the river and can't seem to find much detailed info on it. So I thought I would turn to the best and most reliable resource I guys.

I could use some guidance on put-ins, take-outs, and anything else I might need to know. Is it a decent float for a couple of hours? Is the water quality so gross I shouldn't do it? Are there rapids I need to scout? Are there rapids at all? Any guidance you can offer would be much appreciated.

My background - I ran the Upper Colorado as a guide for one summer three years ago (and, occasionally, the Eagle). Since then, I haven't been on the water

Thanks in advance for any advice you have!!

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Old 05-05-2011   #2
earthNRG's Avatar
Snowmass, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 429
There are rapids, but they come as boat chutes. They ought to be interesting enough in the IK. Best section for water quality and scenery is from C-470 down to/through Union Chutes. To access C-470 put-in, take 470 west from Santa Fe or other points east, then exit after you cross the river. There is signage to the park located just down stream from 470, but you simply take the frontage road back to the river. Take out at Union Chutes, located on Union west of Santa Fe. It would be most interesting if you run through the chutes, then walk back up to the parking area. Alternatively, you can continue down to Oxford or any other road crossing.

The bike path follows the river the whole way through Denver, so with an IK you can put-in/take-out anywhere you can access the path.

All this sounds great now, but there is no water in the Platte right now (13 cfs at Union, 84 at confluence). You'd be better served to go out to Golden and run laps from the playpark to Ford Street (also low-low water, but at least it's floatable). Or you might be able to run laps at Confluence Park. I don't have a visual there, so I don't know if it's runnable now or not.

If you can make time, Foxton and Waterton are your best bets now, but things ought to come up soon.
"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)
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Old 05-05-2011   #3
Parker, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 52
Here is the waterflow info for that section:


The section from c470 downstream to around Belleview Blvd. can be quite pretty, for a metro float. It's not the Colorado river basin by any stretch but there are a few sections where it's harder to tell you are in a major metro area.

Because the water gets dirtier the closer to downtown you get, the upper(south metro) parts aren't too bad as far as water quality goes. If/when you use the bike path for river ingress/egress do be heads-up for bikers and stay to the edge of the trail.

EDIT: As far as flows go, I consider the bare minimum to flow this section of the river to be around 350cfs. I'm sure people have floated it at lower flows, but you'll be scraping up your boat and not having as much fun. Anything around 450-800 should be a nice float.
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Old 05-10-2011   #4
Come and open the gate
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denver, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 180
does anyone have any idea when this is gonna start moving?

6.6 cfs is too low for may 10th right?
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