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We are considering a week of paddling this summer in Colorado. Looking for class 3 and low class 4. Is there a town that we could stay in that has a few different runs within driving distance or do we need to plan on moving around?

Thanks in advance for your opinions
 

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Several to consider I can think of, probably several I will miss:

Buena Vista/Salida: many stretches of the Ark meet your criteria

Fort Collins: Poudre River and could also include some front range runs in Denver.

Glenwood Springs: Sections of the Colorado, Frying Pan, Roaring Fork.

A lot will be dependent on when you come out and if its runoff. Focus on flows once you know what week and I bet you can find a good hub to base your adventure out of.
 

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I am partial to BV, we have Granite (III-IV), Numbers (IV), Fractions (III+), and Browns (III-III+), all within a 20 minute drive...not to mention one of the best whitewater parks in the state...but other options include the Poudre, Roaring Fork, Animas, and South Platte.
 

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With that criteria....I'd have to recommend Buena Vista/Salida. Not taking anything away from any of the other areas recommended, they're great runs too. But you'll have the most variety and river miles available in the range you're looking for WITHOUT the congestion (I-70) of some of the other suggestions.

Plus the scenery and other recreational activities around BV/Sal. are a little better....IMHO.

If you're comin' to CO. PUT yourself in CO......not in the megalopolis that is now the Denver area (that includes Co. Springs through Ft. Collins).
 

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Ark all the way (Buena Vista and Salida, spend some time in both). Steven's down on the Poudre is probably my favorite run but as a whole for someone looking to visit Colorado you can't beat the Ark especially for the level you are looking for. You can easily spend 5 to 7 days paddling new water in the III to IV range depending on how aggressive you want to be.

I'd suggest

Day 1 Warm up on Fractions/Frog Rock to Fisherman’s Bridge (or cut the flat water by getting out at Johnson's Village) Enjoy the world-class park as you go through Buena Vista.

Day 2 Royal Gorge – She’s a classic. Take your time in the heart of the gorge or it’ll go by fast, especially at high water.

Day 3 Browns (chill day to relax), take it all the way through to Stone Bridge.

Day 4 Numbers or Pinnacle to Parkdale depending on how your are feeling. Numbers can be carried through to Buena Vista again if you are feeling up to it.

Day 5 Whatever you didn't do on Day 4

Day 6 shoot over to Aspen and run Slaughterhouse. The drive is one of the most beautiful in the state.

Day 7 Go run your favorite again, or if you are feeling up to it take on Granite, there’s one calss V in there, though most probably call it a IV+ at moderate levels.
 

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Arky all the way. Time of year will make a big difference. May/June will be higher than July. Higher water will up the rating of some. Low water vice-versa. You campin' or hotelin'? BV has better camping, Salida has better hotelin'. PM me if you're camping and I'll spill some beans.
 

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"Day 7 Go run your favorite again, or if you are feeling up to it take on Granite, there’s one calss V in there, though most probably call it a IV+ at moderate levels."

Granite is a fantastic III-IV run in and of itself...with 2 portages, The Granite Dam, and Pine Creek. A good full day trip is to launch at Granite (know where to get out for PC, and walk it) then paddle on through the Numbers :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Wow, I didn't really expect a great response like this but thanks! I kind of expected to get told to stay in Arkansas. Glad I'm not from Texas!

As far as camping vs hoteling I'm not sure yet. It will really depend on if we want to haul the camping gear.

It's alot easier to have safety meetings while camping, esp in those awesome Colorado mountains.
 

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I agree with the Ark as well... there's pretty decent free camping in the area and as other people have pointed out, there are a ton of stretches that fit your criteria and some good options for stepping into class 4.

"If you're comin' to CO. PUT yourself in CO......not in the megalopolis that is now the Denver area (that includes Co. Springs through Ft. Collins)." - but this statement is just plain stupid... The Ark is not much better traffic/density of people wise than the front range. Its by far the busiest stretch in CO and on weekends it's an all out clusterfuck...
 

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I agree with the Ark as well... there's pretty decent free camping in the area and as other people have pointed out, there are a ton of stretches that fit your criteria and some good options for stepping into class 4.

"If you're comin' to CO. PUT yourself in CO......not in the megalopolis that is now the Denver area (that includes Co. Springs through Ft. Collins)." - but this statement is just plain stupid... The Ark is not much better traffic/density of people wise than the front range. Its by far the busiest stretch in CO and on weekends it's an all out clusterfuck...
It's been pretty quiet the past couple of years. I've managed to catch really high water so that helps but overall there seems to less river traffic.
 

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"If you're comin' to CO. PUT yourself in CO......not in the megalopolis that is now the Denver area (that includes Co. Springs through Ft. Collins)." - but this statement is just plain stupid... The Ark is not much better traffic/density of people wise than the front range. Its by far the busiest stretch in CO and on weekends it's an all out clusterfuck...
Ricky, I think you get the prize for the biggest dumbass comment of the day. If you think the Ark Valley is comparable to the front range for traffic/people, then it's probably best you just stay in Boulder.
Although I would suggest avoiding Brown's Canyon on holidays and busy summer weekends.
 

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Let me rephrase... He is looking for class 3-4 to run this summer. The Ark is what everybody has suggested, as well as myself (I have nothing against the Ark). So what run does that send him to? Browns Canyon? "I would suggest avoiding Brown's Canyon on holidays and busy summer weekends". I would argue that most summer weekends are busy summer weekends on the Ark, others may beg differ. However, I think my point was missed. I was not saying that the traffic of people is comparable to the front range, but rather that the river traffic is high enough (especially Browns) that you're not really "putting yourself in CO".
 

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Second the Granite recommendation. It is an awesome III-IV stretch and you rarely see other people on it. The dam portage is super easy and the Pine Creek portage is pretty chill too, albeit a lot longer.

A good long day is to paddle Granite to BV, take a little break, then put on Brown's around 5 or 6 and takeout as the sun sets at Stone Bridge.

Pinnacle Rock to Canon City is also a nice day, especially at high water. Both sections (Parkdale and Royal Gorge) are fantastic with a lot (2500+) of water.

Two days and you've seen most of the III-IV on the Ark.
 

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It's not a cluster%$# at all. Brown's Canyon is the only BV run that gets pretty busy on weekends with rafts, but even at peak, it's still enjoyable and you can time your run to avoid much of it. I concur with the majority on the BV area due to the variety of opportunities.
 
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