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Which One of These is the Best Class III Run in Colorado?

  • Dolores River (Ponderosa Gorge)

    Votes: 7 43.8%
  • Arkansas River (Rincon to Pinnacle Rock)

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • Gunnison River (Gunnison Gorge)

    Votes: 8 50.0%
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Discussion Starter #1
Runs that have the whitewater, solitude, scenery, and adventure.
Dolores River (Ponderosa Gorge)
Arkansas River (Rincon to Pinnacle Rock)
Gunnison River (Gunnison Gorge) Gunnison River
Some of the best class III in Colorado: good flat to whitewater ratio, nice lengths, mostly III's with some II+ and some III+, pretty locations, isolated.
(On the maps when it says III-IV it means it is a III+)
 

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The ark shouldn't make the list with the litter and roadside highway..I would have upper Colorado with train ahead of that.
 

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Middle Fork of the Flathead(Mt) is a great couple of nights out with wild life galore, scenery, some fun class 4, and the fishing is great! (Be bear aware)
 

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Obviously you are looking more at overnighters than day trips, but my choices for best class III in Colorado would be Granite (without Pine Creek) and Brown's Canyon on the Ark. Taylor Canyon, Upper Rio Grande, Conejos Pinnacle Gorge, Mishawaka down on the Poudre, and the Gunny Gorge.

Some might argue Granite and the Poudre are class IV, but I find that a class III boater can usually handle them, with appropriate scouting/portaging.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Obviously you are looking more at overnighters than day trips, but my choices for best class III in Colorado would be Granite (without Pine Creek) and Brown's Canyon on the Ark. Taylor Canyon, Upper Rio Grande, Conejos Pinnacle Gorge, Mishawaka down on the Poudre, and the Gunny Gorge.

Some might argue Granite and the Poudre are class IV, but I find that a class III boater can usually handle them, with appropriate scouting/portaging.

Yes but on Granite, from Eddyflower it seems that you'd have to portage most of the river, "The first few miles of this run are pleasant class III to IV whitewater." Then "The Dam," which is a class V. Browns Canyon seems nice, other than the Seidels Suckhole portage. The Taylor seems like a good overnighter, however there are a coulpe IV's as it appears form Eddyflower. The Upper Rio Grande sounds good too. Mishawaka is a maybe, since it has a few class IV-.

Arkansas River Browns Canyon
Taylor River Taylor Canyon
Rio Grande River Upper Rio Grande
Cash la Poudre River Upper Mishawaka
 

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Yes but on Granite, from Eddyflower it seems that you'd have to portage most of the river, "The first few miles of this run are pleasant class III to IV whitewater." Then "The Dam," which is a class V. Browns Canyon seems nice, other than the Seidels Suckhole portage. The Taylor seems like a good overnighter, and the Upper Rio Grande sounds good too. Mishawaka is a maybe, since it has a few class IV-.
I wouldn't call Granite III at high water, but at >1000 Maytag and Hopscotch are III+, possibly IV-...and I forget about the dam, definately a portage.

The normal take-out for Brown's Canyon is at Hecla Junction (above Seidel's).

I found the only IV in the lower Poudre to be Pineview Falls (at 3.0'), the rest is read and run III-III+.

The information on Eddyflower is based on people's opinions, as are most guidebooks. Ratings are rather subjective and depend on the craft your floating, these are the best "bang for your buck" class III runs in MY OPINION...

Probably should have included Elevenmile Canyon as well, a few class IV moves at higher water, but a beautiful, predominately class III canyon.
 

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The Taylor seems like a good overnighter, however there are a coulpe IV's as it appears form Eddyflower.
The Taylor river write-up was done by Yetigonecrazy. He is a duckier who overrates everything. There is no class IV water on the Taylor, even at really high water (1200+). The upper portion just below Lottis Creek is tougher than the canyon below, but still III+. The normal launch is from the ramp just below The Slot. The rapids start with Initiation which is the hardest at solid III.

It's really not a good river for an overnighter because of private property issues, but there are several high quality Forest Service campgrounds along the river that make good base camps for day trips.
 

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Is Seidel's a 4? I've only seen it once at a lower? flow but it seemed like a one move rapid.
It totally depends on flow. 300-500 class III, 500-1000 III+, 1000-2000 IV-, 2000+ solid IV, possibly IV+ for rafts. IMO.

Eddyflower's Brown's Canyon write-up lists it as IV+....the only time I would call it IV is when the hole forms and gets sticky:

YouTube - Rafting Seidel's Suckhole on the Arkansas River
 

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fyi it is illegal to camp anywhere in the Taylor Canyon other than a USFS campground.


the classic upper taylor is all III. Logan is a bit better of a boater than he realizes and is downgrading the severity of the upper upper which is much more IV- due to its sharp blast rock and unfriendly log placements. its not really what youre looking for anyway. the taylor is best done as day trips anyhow.

The Upper Rio G is too short to do overnight. Camp at the put in and do a day run. scenic though

neither of them are the best in the state though. browns is the clear cut winner in that category every time
 

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Runs that have the whitewater, solitude, scenery, and adventure.
I'm not sure the Arkansas qualifies as solitude, but it is my favorite river in the state. Top to bottom, it offers a lot of different options for varying abilities and to mix it up every now and then. It's a different river at different water levels too, making it interesting from one trip to the next. Aside from Pine Creek and the Numbers, it seems at certain levels anyway, the rest of the river is pretty manageable in the class III range you are looking for, top to bottom. I ran a lot of day trips down there last summer and had an absoulte blast every time. It's fun for camping too, especially with families, because you don't necessarilly have to take everything on the boat if you don't want to. We did some car camping, which meant less rigging, more rafting (again, not exactly solitude in my book though)!

Is Seidel's a 4? I've only seen it once at a lower? flow but it seemed like a one move rapid.
I would agree with lmeyers rating on Seidel's. I think you're right, it is more or less a one move rapid, but I think the move can be harder at higher flows, and thus why it's rated higher? I've only run it at or below 2,200 myself, and at 2,200, it wasn't terribly difficult, but I can see how so many folks flip there. It is easy to do. I don't think I'd portage it though, now that I've been through it. It also has a nice long stretch after it to recover (unless with kids). ;) Also, not making that one move has higher consequences than something like Zume because of the hole. I think it looks a bit more intimidating than it is, at lower flows anyway. Having been through it though, it's worth it to then get to run Twin Falls, one of my favorite rapids on the river. :D


Some of the best class III in Colorado: good flat to whitewater ratio, nice lengths, mostly III's with some II+ and some III+, pretty locations, isolated.
Based on this definition, other than isolation, I can't believe nobody mentions the Eagle. It's my second favorite river in Colorado, especially for day trips. It's not as long as the Ark, but just as fun, and very scenic. It has a few options too, depending on length desired, etc. I've run it as long as from Avon to Eagle Fairgrounds and as short as Wolcott to the Fairgrounds for day trips, depending on who was with me, weather, and how much time I have, etc. I have two young kids, so it's just about perfect for that kind of family IMO, at least at moderate to lower flows. There really isn't a lot of flat water at all, other than the stretch by the water treatment plant. The rest moves right along. More or less constant class II with the occassional class III here and there to keep it fun and wet!
 

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a little late getting in on these "best 3' threads,but am surprised Gunny Gorge is winning in the poll.Maybe I need to run it again.Dolores and Westwater are more beautiful[imo] with way better camps.Dolores much longer and Westwater feels much more committing with better rapids.i think perhaps fewer are familiar with the Dolores since it doesn't run as much.Brown's is way better high[3000] ,but IV I guess ,at most flows too many people.Taylor ok but short.I ran Gunny at 700 not worth the hassles involved.

Logan,You really think Granite is that choice ?I' d like to run it with you next season,never done it.Done #'s through Gorge except a gap of easy stuff in Rincon.Parkdale high and Gorge low are good 3.Poudre below the Narrows and the Rustics.Best 2 miles of Foxton in the 500's or more.Edwards Mile at 2500 is damn good.Waterton if it were longer and didn't have to carry out.Some of that is easier 4.
 
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