South Platte Deckers/Confluence - Suitable for open canoe? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 02-25-2006   #1
Join Date: Feb 2006
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South Platte Deckers/Confluence - Suitable for open canoe?

I am going to be in Denver in June and will have use of an open canoe. I would like to take a couple of friends canoeing. I canoed a lot of slow, muddy water in Nebraska/Iowa, so what I am looking for is pine trees and clear water. Is the South Platte from Deckers to the confluence suitable for an open canoe? My research finds mixed messages about this run. Shorter runs or short portages are OK. What are the best put-ins and take-outs? Any other mountain runs I should consider? Thanks in advance for your feedback and suggestions.

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Old 02-25-2006   #2
Join Date: Mar 2005
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suitable as in can be run, yes, but clear water and pine trees, no. If you want that, I'd think South fork of the south platte above waterton, or foxton of the north fork of the south platte also above waterton.
Pumphouse on the Colorado would be more wide open water and surrounding countryside, but beautiful in more of a desert-like setting.
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Old 02-25-2006   #3
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The Blue would give you the good scenery with mountains, trees, etc. Class III, the Lower pretty much always runs (dam) and hopefully the Upper will be running with the snowpack we've got.

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Old 02-25-2006   #4
Join Date: Nov 2005
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I think cdw thought you meant Denver confluence, when you really mean the North Fork/South Fork confluence above Waterton.

A friend tried to canoe that stretch with me once. It didn't work. Too many shallow rocks at 300 cfs. It is a gorgeous stretch. Also, in June, the flow will probably be below 250. They'll almost certainly be releasing from Dillon/Roberts Tunnel rather than Cheesman.

Yes, the pumphouse stretch on the Colorado is good for canoeing, although some of the waves will splash in a canoe. Below State Bridge on the Colorado is tamer water and gorgeous.
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Old 02-26-2006   #5
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West of Boulder, Colorado
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South Fork Deckers run and North Fork Foxton run of the South Platte, as well as below the confluence, Waterton Canyon run, are all great open boat day/play runs. South Fork is slower and is for beginners. It is a class II run with one III and I think you need 250CFS+. The North fork is a III/III+ and 350CFS+ or so is preferred and below the confluence for more experienced paddlers III+/VI-, 400CFS or more is preferred.

South Fork and Waterton haven't been as clear since the fire a couple or years ago. The North Fork is usaully clear when I have run it. These are playoat runs versus tripper canoes. I have seen trippers practice on the South Fork. I think the North Fork and Waterton would be too fast and tight for a tripper.
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Old 02-27-2006   #6
Join Date: Oct 2003
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If you are looking for slow and mellow like you have in NE, forget it on both of the runs. They have rapids and you will have to portage a few times. If you are taking some friends I'll bet they won't want to run those rapids either. If you are a whitewater boater then that is a different story but if you aren't, I would stay away because these aren't just runs you can float. Just my .02 worth.
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Old 02-27-2006   #7
Metro Area, Colorado
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I think you could get the canoe down the SF of Platte in June. A majority of the water will be releasing through Dillion (Foxton) at that time which should keep the SF pretty mellow. There is one section of chutes that might give an open boat some problems, but it can be portaged easily (road side run and chutes are about 1/4 of mile long). You could even attmept to run the chutes pretty safely. They are more of pool drops than anything else. Other than that little section, you will find miles of the class II water from Deckers through the Confluence. Wouldn't recommend the NF of Platte or Waterton in an open boat. The water has cleared up immensley since a few years back, and other than some scorched hillsides, the area is breath taking. Good luck and welcome to CO!
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Old 02-27-2006   #8
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Runs I have taken Freinds parents ect. On in my tandem canoe. From your experience it sounds like class II is your comfort zone(let me know if this is wrong). The chutes section of the S. Platte is really good somewhat busy some waves and good mountain senery. Pumphouse to State bridge on the Colorado is really the best IMO. The Lower Blue is good but somewhat commiting you might want a warm up before that. Also the S. Platte From C-470 to Littleton Blvd. is a great warm up. sj
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Old 02-27-2006   #9
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West of Boulder, Colorado
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I would be glad to discuss open canoeing options for you in June. I would need to know more about your abilities; equipment; are you lookng for day trips or camp trips; and how far you want to travel, etc.

If you want to discuss, give me a call 303-258-0265. You may also want to visit They sponser canoe trips for differant abilities.
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