You could spend a month or more exploring the whitewater in Colorado. But if you were flying into Colorado for just 7 days here’s a list by whitewater team rider Trinity Wall of the rivers you need to hit!
Upper Colorado River
My first lessons in running whitewater happened on the Upper Colorado River in May of 2015. This is an incredible place to learn. Stand Up Paddle Colorado runs a great program that teaches all of the basics from Rancho to Statebridge on some fun little class I and II rapids. Cable Rapid can be quite the challenge on a SUP for beginners, but with their professional guides, you can really get the hang of it quickly. This section of river is fun for the whole family.
A little farther down the river road, you can put in at Pumphouse where there is a new wave park to play in. This park has eddy service both sides of the river most of the time so you get plenty of tries.
Little Gore Canyon takes you down through Eye of the Needle Class III and Yarmony Rapid Class II-III rapids and past a local favorite soak spot called Radium Hot Springs. This section of river offers great wildlife, challenging rapids as well as sections that allow you to work on your stroke in the flat water.
Browns Canyon on the Arkansas
People from all over the world come to see this exhilarating section of the of the Arkansas River. With the headwaters in Leadville, this section of River is as beautiful as it is challenging on stand up paddle boards. Mid-summer it is full of commercial raft companies so I recommend spring and fall trips. This section of river is great because there is a railroad that runs along all of the rapids for good scouting and the ability to easily walk around if you are not feeling it. I have yet to see someone clean the entire run so expect to win some and swim some. No matter how comfortable I get on a paddle board, this run will continue to teach me.
Buena Vista Whitewater Park
The Buena Vista Whitewater Park has recently been expanded downstream into the South Main Neighborhood development. With 5 main whitewater structures and numerous eddy and trail improvements, as well as climbing walls and trails, the Buena Vista Play Park is quickly becoming the premier whitewater park in Colorado. All of the features have been fine-tuned to optimize hydraulic performance and better the park for everyone who uses it!
This River is literally in my backyard. When there is enough water, the section from behind the Westin in Avon to River Bend apartments is non-stop busy water action. There is a fun little drop about a quarter mile after the put in:
The most common section to Paddle Board is Edwards to Walcott. This section offers wonderfully diverse conditions. The three major named rapids of the Eagle (Trestle, I-70, and Dead Cow) are here. Also long pools, pocket water, riffles, and eddies. Virtually every type of water can be found. This entire section can be heavily impacted by thunderstorms or any runoff from Alkali and Milk Creeks which enter the river nearer to Wolcott. Trestle Rapid can be quite a handful and it is best to Scout on the Railroad Bridge.
The Crystal River
The Crystal River is a tributary of the Roaring Fork, approximately 40 mi (64 km) long, in western Colorado. It drains a glacial valley, called the Valley of the Coal Miners, south of Carbondale which was historically known as a center of coal mining in southwestern Colorado. The color of the water is emerald green and lined with huge chunks of marble.
This section of River is some of the most beautiful that I have seen. We took out right after the KOA.
Glenwood Canyon Shoshone Section
This section of the Colorado begins with the thrills of “Entrance Exam”, “Tuttle’s Tumble”, “Marty’s Diner”, “Pinball”, “The Wall”, “Tombstone”, and “Maneater” rapids. Your journey continues through the incredible sky-high walls of the Glenwood Canyon formed millions of years ago. This is where I had the pleasure of product testing with the Hala Crew. A truly great stretch of river!
The same stream of life that runs through the world, runs through my veins day and night. Each new river that I get to explore shoots joy into my being. When I am on the water it is to face the unknown as a field of all possibilities. There has never been a problem that I haven’t solved by bringing it to the river.
Written by team rider Trinity Wall