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South Platte River, Colorado
Report by Marc W. McCord

The South Platte River forms in the Pike National Forest of northern Park County, Colorado between Breckenridge and Alma near Hoosier Pass (elevation 11,541 feet msl), then flows southeast to Elevenmile Canyon Reservoir at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument before turning to flow northeast through Cheesman Reservoir, into and through Denver to Greeley, where it then flows east by northeast to its confluence with the North Platte River at North Platte, Nebraska. It is a major Colorado waterway that is fed by numerous rivers and creeks including Clear Creek, Boulder Creek, Bear Creek, Big Thompson and Little Thompson Rivers, North and South Saint Vrain Creeks and others. The river is rated from Class I to V in various sections, and most tributary streams are rated Class IV to V+, or even VI.

Along some sections of the river and some of its tributaries landowners have historically created problems for boaters by erecting illegal fences and barriers extending into waterways in clear violation of federal laws, though local law enforcement seems to overlook those illegalities in favor of votes to stay in office. However, the river and its tributaries offer some scenic and exciting runs below and above Denver. Some runs start at elevations around 9,500 feet msl, though most begin in the 5,500 to 7,500 feet msl range. Most runs are very near numerous small towns, as well as the Denver metro area, so just about anything a boater needs is not far away.

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the South Platte River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

South Platte River
[ Fairplay to Hartzel ] [ Elevenmile Canyon Res. to Lake George ] [ Lake George to Cheesman Reservoir ]
[ Decker to Chatfield Res. S.R.A. ] [ North Fork Bailey Run ] [ North Fork Foxton Run ]

Tributaries
[ Clear Creek ] [ Upper Boulder Creek ] [ South Boulder Creek ]
[ Big Thompson River ] [ Little Thompson River ] [ North Saint Vrain Creek ] [ South Saint Vrain Creek ]

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Last updated December 22, 2007

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