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Most everyone does it as a one day but the Big South of the Poudre is a great 2 day and if you want some big adventure (see "what I'd rather be at home talking about instead of doing right now") you can put in on Trail Ridge Rd. The advantage to the 2 day trip is that you miss the crush of boaters that you get when every one is pushing to get it done in one day. You can camp anywhere you like or you can boat down to the Peterson Lake area and hike up to your car and car camp. If you want to make a nice long trip just keep going on down the river and pick some camp sites in the wilderness section or on forest service land. This lower section can be run with or without car support.
Good luck.
 

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BSF

The BSF is decidedly not fun Class IV...
Most of the Big South is Class IV. You just have to pay attention to trees and where to get out and take a stroll. It would help to have someone along who knows the river but it was mainly Class IV when it was first run and still is. You just have to use your head and not be afraid to portage. It is a wilderness run and that entails some solid problem solving, self evaluation and river reading skills. There are good portage trails around all the big drops and just because someone has run that drop before does not mean you have to. Basic rule of thumb is above Peterson Lake portage on river Left below Peterson Lake portage on river Right.
However looking at how long the guy who started this thread has been boating perhaps he should get a season or two more of back country boating under his belt on back country western mountain rivers before he jumps into the Big South.
 

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When you ask a question like this, you're going to get a variety of answers. Asking for the most fun grade IV multi-day run in CO is akin to asking for the most fun 5.10 big wall. The variety and differences between what the runs may hold is incredible. What exactly are you looking for? The grade is meaningless unless the objective is quantifiable. Multi-day is the basis for the setting...gotcha. Because the river rating system bases it's grade on the hardest moves or consequences, it leaves out the intangibles. Are you looking for something that's primarily grade IV the whole way? Are you looking for cruisy whitewater with the occasional challenge in grade IV? Are you looking for a grade IV/V run that you know you'll be portaging on? Are you ready to handle a sieved out grade IV run (UTB & Black Canyon) that has harder drops? Drop/pool or continuous?

Remember, you can make any run an overnight simply by taking gear. Sometimes the most fun times are when you're paddling some, and have time at camp to enjoy it.

When I think of the Upper A, I think of a beautiful grade III/IV run with a hint of something more and I see it as the best grade IV multi-day in Colorado. The train carries the gear, boats are light. Easy portages if necessary. And most of all, and the reason why we do multi-days, is you don't get a crowd and junk show like you see at Bailey and the Big South. It's classic CO scenery in a crowd free zone. The big considerations with this run are elevation, temperature (air and water), and the shallow continuous nature of the harder sections on day 1. Even when it's juicin, it's shallow. And it's always frigid. Many people underestimate this run. A solid grade IV boater will be in there element on this run and will love it. The occasional grade IV boater should stick to the Numbers on the Ark and hone there skills. The Upper A is the only run I can think of where a train track parallels the run riverside for almost it's entire length making scouting and portaging as easy as it gets and the campsite options are many. You can pay the train to carry your overnight gear and supplies so camp's as luxurious as it gets. And...you can bring enough stuff including fishing rods etc. to have a layover day and really enjoy it. And to top it off, the scenery and canyon change the mood and the Rockwood Box is at the end which is beautiful drop/pool grade IV.

Cheers and good luck.
 

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Upper Animas Train camping

The train does increase options on the Upper Animas river trip.
We have always rafted the Upper Animas as a day run, with empty 16' cats and 14' rafts. Single oarsman makes for lighter more responsive rigs that work well on the Piedra as well. Drop a vehicle at Rockwood depot, then have your driver drop your group in Silverton early and return the trailer to Rockwood. We de-rig boats at Tacoma depot and load them on the last train of the day, then walk the tracks out to Rockwood depot and easily beat the train back to the depot in Durango. Freight tickets need to be purchased beforehand.
https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&q=

We have thought of having a group of hikers (Cascade Creek trail) or even train passengers meet us at Midway/Needleton depot, spending a layover day or two hiking/climbing to the east in the Chicago Basin, then finish the float as usual. Logistics and costs start increasing accordingly, with zip-line and rumored hot tub options available at the Tall Timber depot.
Soaring Tree Top Adventures
 

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There is a lot of bad info in this thread. Lodore and Dolores have maybe one rapid each that are easy class IV. and the Dolores below mcfee doesn't have common kayakable flows - it is either 80cfs or 800 for a couple weeks or not at all. you can certainly raft it at 800. OP has not really defined what he is comfortable kayaking so some of this advice could be way off for him.
It was an open ended question so the answers are predictably broad.

Dolores: Lower Dolores has kayakable flow many years. Multiple Class IVs according to maps and reports in that section. I will admit upper section is parenthetically Class IV according to sources and maps. My apologies for such an egregious mistake ;)

Lodore: One of the classic class IV multi-day float options in the Utah and Colorado region. Unless we are gonna nitpick the metaphysical definitions of class IV then "easy" still qualifies. From my understanding most rivers are commonly defined by their hardest rapid (as is common in other endeavors like climbing and canyoneering). I assume most people are using that paradigm unless they say otherwise. They may be Class IVs below boaters burlier than I but the nice thing about class systems is they give a very BASIC idea of what we are embarking on....and in this case a Class IV like Lodore should give a Class III boater a moment to think before launching. OP didn't specify indicators like "continuous" or anything else.

I always assume those seeking info are gonna verify information. Calling the responses here "bad information" seems a bit unnecessary from that perspective.

Sticking by the above as they are great Class IVs as I know em. But that could because I am an average boatmen with no major concern about classes. I just love a beautiful multi-day trip with a few challenging rapids.

Hope folks receive positive lottery letters soon.

Phillip
 

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Earthen Exposure: river guide

Check out the link... this guy has lined up the best list of overnighters that I have seen in North America. Of note... the utter lack of overnighters in Colorado for the most part. Yeah, you can pack gear and camp out on day runs, but its not the same feel and adventure as a "real" mutiday.

If you really want class IV multiday... you should probably scratch CO off your requirements and think Idaho or California.

While its true that many rapids on runs like the black canyon, upper taos box or big south are class IV and you can walk the class V, the folks I typically see running these as overnighter are class V boaters. You will likely never hear a class IV crew saying around the campfire... "we should go do an overnight on the big south".

Also, many folks who self support, especially when they are getting started are more comfortable on water a 1/2 grade or so below their normal river grade. Loaded boats and wilderness bring extra risk that makes you extra cautious.

Upper A sounds like its one of the few CO runs that fits the bill.
 

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Discussion Starter #32
Thanks for all the input! Sounds like the upper A is the best bet. Just another quick question, is coors falls as good of a park 'n plop as I've heard? Thanks!
 

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upper a

Not sure if you posted your experience on other "class IV", but I would hold off on jumping on the upper A unless it was lower water (500ish in silverton)

Yes it is class IV and at that level none of the moves aren't too difficult. That being said it is understatedly cold as balls and requires back to back to back to back to back (etc) class IV decisions. IF you have run and feel good on Bailey, Gore, etc, then this is a fun enjoyable semi low stress class IV run in a beautiful setting. If you ran numbers anytime last year and thought it was class IV, wait until next year, boat every day, and head there in 2015. It aint going nowhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Sorry guys I should have been more specific. I would like to either do a longer trip with the occasional class IV or a shorter trip with more class IV.
Thanks!
 

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One idea i had was the eagle river out by you. We did the whole thing last year at 1700 cfs and it was a blast of big waves and holes followed by calmer class II. Lots of fun, close to a road etc...

You might want to put the upper animas on your list for the end of the season. If you paddle hard early, run the numbers a bunch, browns for conditioning etc... just because you can hot lap shoshone a few times in a day doesn't mean you;ll have the stamina for the animas. Do long runs, ie. browns canyon twice in a day, etc try to paddle many miles in a day, you could run the animas after peak if you work hard early.

also, fuck coors falls, it had a huge log on the left last i saw, bear creek has no fun falls which goes at 50-100cfs easy, also junk.

if you want a good first falls to feel good about, go run crystal mill falls. It has a tricky entrance, but I feel its class 4 under 750 on the redsomething gauge, Also, and I'm sorry to the interwebz for spilling the beans but the put in falls on OBJ is easy as well, 15+ feet and you can lap it. Though I find most people dont have the stamina to get to crystal mill, or the top of OBJ, last time we were there, my buddy much more fit than I was ready to go back to the car after "say cheese" I like "a bajillion words" as the name, but what ev's. Hike, sweat, earn it...

go get em, in about 4 more months, that is...
 

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Discussion Starter #36
One idea i had was the eagle river out by you. We did the whole thing last year at 1700 cfs and it was a blast of big waves and holes followed by calmer class II. Lots of fun, close to a road etc...

You might want to put the upper animas on your list for the end of the season. If you paddle hard early, run the numbers a bunch, browns for conditioning etc... just because you can hot lap shoshone a few times in a day doesn't mean you;ll have the stamina for the animas. Do long runs, ie. browns canyon twice in a day, etc try to paddle many miles in a day, you could run the animas after peak if you work hard early.

also, fuck coors falls, it had a huge log on the left last i saw, bear creek has no fun falls which goes at 50-100cfs easy, also junk.

if you want a good first falls to feel good about, go run crystal mill falls. It has a tricky entrance, but I feel its class 4 under 750 on the redsomething gauge, Also, and I'm sorry to the interwebz for spilling the beans but the put in falls on OBJ is easy as well, 15+ feet and you can lap it. Though I find most people dont have the stamina to get to crystal mill, or the top of OBJ, last time we were there, my buddy much more fit than I was ready to go back to the car after "say cheese" I like "a bajillion words" as the name, but what ev's. Hike, sweat, earn it...

go get em, in about 4 more months, that is...
We actually have an eagle river trip planned for this spring haha! Did you do it as an over nighter and if so where did you camp?
 
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