Who can tell me about the Poudre? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-02-2018   #1
JustKip's Avatar
Fresno, California
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 184
Who can tell me about the Poudre?

I've been boating strictly CA and OR for a few decades, but now I'm moving to Fort Collins by the end of August. I've only been there once, about 5 years ago, and took a short drive somewhere up the Poudre canyon before going around to Horsetooth Res. The river looked bony, but runnable in small rafts and kayaks.
I had a look at a couple of the local outfitter websites, and see that one is offering "The only 2 day run" of the Poudre. Is layover camping available to private boaters anywhere? What's the fishing like?
Looks like it's all class IV and technical III (as opposed to big hydraulic III) and that's my favorite. How long does the season last, and what's considered too big of a raft here?

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Old 07-02-2018   #2
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Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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I'm sure you will get some great responses from Ft. Collins locals, but your description of the river character sounds pretty much right on for the lower river. Stuck between the Rustics and the lower is the Narrows which is pretty solid V at all but the lowest flow. Then there is a bunch of more advanced water near the headwaters (Spencer Heights, Joe Wright and Big South) all are class V with Big South being a five star, expedition style run.

I wouldn't buy a raft bigger than 14' for the Poudre. As you mentioned it's rocky and technical. Season varies from year to year, but for pushing rubber it's usually got enough water from sometime in May to maybe August?...... depends on summer rains. People kayak the Narrows down to super low levels.
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Old 07-02-2018   #3
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Fort Collins, Colorado
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Imyers pretty much hit the nail on the head. By August, especially this year it's going to be done. Even the narrows will probably be out by then. Normal water years we can boat through August but basically, anything after 8/1 is a bonus.

Lots of river to be explored, especially at the top of the canyon if you are a class V boater. Again, mostly earlier in the season.

As for rafts, 14' works just fine, smaller boats extend the season, normal peak is first week of June, so after that it's all downhill, 10.5' rafts are the way to go if you are buying one.

Work on the new play park in town is supposed to start this fall and be ready by the 2019 season, but don't hold your breath, it's been years in the making.
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Old 07-04-2018   #4
Fort Collins, Colorado
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Poudre comments

Some of the runs on the Poudre are already too low. One of the runs that goes later in the season is Bridges, which I ran in my canoe yesterday. It was a bit rocky, but I have run it lower. The river is narrow enough there that it can be floated, but plan on bumping into rocks. The outfitters run Bridges and other runs in fairly good sized paddle rafts, maybe 15 feet.

There are various car campgrounds on the Poudre, but I am not sure how to put together a weekend trip. Note that lower down there are numerous low head dams, which prevent typical navigation.

To me, the Poudre is a kayak or canoe river.
Open boater.
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