You take a beginner to Golden right now, they may never boat again :shock: . That is some fast moving shit right now and you might look for something a lot calmer to get them used to moving water. If they go to Golden they might be swimming several drops before you can get them out and their gear might end up in the Coors intake downtown.
Try Deckers if it comes back up and same for the C470 section on the Platte. There are some challenging drops on the C470 to Bowles section but they can be scouted and walked if need be.
For the record, I got taken to Golden on Friday for a lesson, it was my 9th time in a boat, and 3rd on moving water. We ran the section twice, I swam 3 times (held out for one t-rescue - yay me!) and my paddle wanted to go have a beer one time. If my instructor was a little over-ambitious about my skills, he at least did all that paddling after my own paddle.
It did scare the crap out of me - triggered a real adrenaline rush that was very unhelpful. But I kind of made the best of it, and now I'm headed back to C470 for more confidence building.
And hey, I did get some real practice swimming among rocks and getting out of the current.
For a real beginner to moving water, even Lyons may be a bit much at the level it's at now >300 CFS.
It's MUCH more friendly for a true beginner at < 200 CFS. (Based on my experience of learning on moving water there...)
Ok, I know you said near Denver, but just for fun... the Upper Colorado between Rancho Del Rio and Statebridge is a great run for beginners. It's long. Has several "rapids" and plenty of spots to eddy in/out, as well as stretches to just work on good paddling technique, ferrying, etc. and if you do swim it's easy self rescue with hardly any "scare".
And you can stop at Wolcott on your way back for beer and live music.
The put-in for the Platte off C-470 is easy to find... after you have been there once before. From Sante Fe Blvd. get onto C-470 westbound and stay in the right lane. Take your first right turn off the highway into what will look like a dirt parking lot that is used by dump trucks. Once you're in the dirt-looking parking lot, on your right side you will see a gate with a road going through it. Go down that road to the last parking lot... that is the put-in. A good take-out is the Platte River Bar and Grill, but be careful when you park your shuttle there because management has been known to get mad at boaters who are using the parking lot and not their facilities. Make sure you have your car out of the put-in parking lot by dark because the park rangers come and close the gate and will ticket/tow your car if it's still there. You can boat this run with as little as a few hundred CFS, but it's not really worth it, ever for beginners, until it gets a little higher... for what its worth.
Go westbound on C-470, you'll cross under Santa Fe (US Hwy 85), then cross over the South Platte, about 1/2 mile down there is a turn-off on the right for the riverfront parking lot access...follow that back and don't park where they say not to, you WILL get a ticket.
If the river is running at above 500 cfs coming out of Chatfield, you can run all the way to Confluence, but I'd recommend 800 cfs for that.
Some man-made drops you need to be careful on:
3 double drops about 1 mile north of Mineral? or Jackass Hill? can't remember the road, it's East/west though and will be the first road you cross under.
The first double drop at 500+ cfs can develop a nasty V-wave that will flip you if you're slacking on paying attention.
The second one has a rock out from the middle of the lower part.
The third can pin you if you're not careful.
Be careful on the last drop, backwashed concrete hole
Denver Water & Sewer Offices (roughly where 2nd Ave would run into I-25)
This drop should be scouted well at flows above 750 cfs, it's a triple drop ramp, there are jagged rails, and other weird shite in the holes like rebar.
At 1200 cfs this place becomes a monster, and you damn well better be on your game. It's a big nasty rapid and I have personally seen and ran V-waves on this that were 6 to 8 ft high and pulsing with the flow.
This is a mandatory portage unless they found the old ramp safety net.
The Deckers/Chutes run is in CRC. It's just above Waterton Canyon on the South Fork of the South Platte River. It's just downstream of Deckers. The easiest way to get to it is up 285, just past Conifer, take the next exit, which is called the Foxton Road. This road takes you down to the North Fork of the South Platte. Drive downstream along a neat class III run when they release water from Dillion Reservoir until you get to the confluence with the South Fork. Marvel at what a wonderful dam spot this would be and be glad they didn't build the Twin Forks Dam that would have flooded two great runs. Then drive upstream on the South Fork side and put in anywhere you like.
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