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Crystal River, Colorado
Report by Marc W. McCord

Bogan Canyon to Redstone
~ 12.4 Miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

Between the towns of Marble and Redstone lies the 12.4 mile run called Bogan Canyon, a Class III to IV- trip that can be run by paddlers with intermediate or higher level whitewater skills in canoes, kayaks and rafts. Bogan Canyon is very pretty, but it lacks the splendor of other Colorado streams, especially the majestic Crystal Gorge above. It begins at 7,930 feet msl and drops to 7,552 feet msl at a gradient of about 80 fpm. It features cascading waterfalls entering the river along the banks, and is the scene of more than one hazard resulting from downed trees that may partially or completely obstruct the river channel (look for warning signs displayed on trees along the banks or hanging from bridge overpasses) and pose risks to paddlers, boats and gear.

Multiple access points and a highway running parallel to the river provide for trips of various lengths. From Marble to just past Bogan Flats Campground, FR 314 runs beside the river until it T-bones SH 133, running north from Bogan Flats Campground through Carbondale across the confluence with the Roaring Fork River where it then T-bones SH 82. After leaving Bogan Flats Campground the Crystal River widens, gets more shallow and weaves back and forth under SH 133, where it flows constricted by tree-covered banks on one side and the highway on the other side. This section of the Crystal River has a lot of potential for whitewater paddlers, but caution must be taken to avoid potentially dangerous hazards.


Gunnison County in the Gunnison National Forest, west of Denver and near the ski resort towns of Crested Butte, Aspen and Snowmass. Nearby streams include the Roaring Forks, Fryingpan, Colorado, Gunnison and Taylor Rivers, with many feeder streams in close proximity.

Distance from major cities

Fort Collins 268 miles; Durango 220 miles; Grand Junction 136 miles; Denver 206 miles; Santa Fe 432 miles; Albuquerque 432 miles; Phoenix 674 miles; Oklahoma City 831 miles; Tulsa 936 miles; Dallas 990 miles; Austin 1,170 miles; San Antonio 1,181 miles; Houston 1,370 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Clean, clear and cold, but not drinkable without purification. Snowmelt water temperatures mandate wearing layered water-repelling garment, wetsuits, drysuits or combinations to prevent hypothermia. Neoprene gloves and hard-soled river boots should also be worn for added protection against cold, as well as hand and foot injuries in or near the river. This section is rated Class III to IV- between a recommended minimum flow of 500 cfs and a maximum of 2,000 cfs.

Best time to go

Typically, this section of the Crystal River runs best from May through July, though the season may be extended or reduced according to the depth of the snowpack and/or recent local rains.

Hazards to navigation

Dead-fallen tree debris may be partically or completely blocking the river channel at constrictions, rapids, bridges and bends in the river. One Class IV- rapid will be encountered just above Bogan Flats Campground, and several Class III rapids will also be found along this run. Keep your eyes opened and pick lines that avoid entanglements or pins. The most significant hazard on this section is the series of culverts beneath SH 133 about halfway between Bogan Flats Campground and Redstone, the sites of serious injury accidents over several years. It is advisable that these culverts be found and scouted from SH 133 BEFORE beginning the run, then portaged when approached on the river. Do NOT attempt to run these culverts!

River Access Points

Yule Quarry Bridge in Marble at 0.0 miles; a bridge about midway between Marble and Bogan Flats Campground; Bogan Flats Campground about 1.5 miles below the second access point; a SH 133 pull-off below the Marble Road intersection; and a pull-off just above the town of Redstone at about 12.4 miles.

Campgrounds and accommodations

The National Forest Service operates 5 campgrounds along the banks of the Crystal River. From top to bottom, these are on the North Fork at the end of FR 315 on river left; Bogan Flats off FR 314 on river right; Below Redstone (just above Meatgrinder) on river right; Above Avalanche Creek on river right; and the BRB Campground on river right below Nettle Creek. There may be other primitive campsites available along various sections of the Crystal River.

Liveries, Outfitters and Shuttle Services

There are no liveries or shuttle services known to be operating along this section of the Crystal River. Liveries and shuttle services off the river may be available - ask local paddlers or outfitters in nearby towns.

Reviewer's comments

This is a less intense section of the Crystal River, where paddlers of intermediate or higher level whitewater skills can enjoy themselves in Class III to IV- water. It is scenic and not too hazardous, but care does have to be taken to avoid the dead-fallen trees from floods and avalanches that tend to clog the river channel at key points where the river bends or where other obstructions are located. It is a good idea to know where the culverts under SH 133 are, and to avoid them like the plague. Good access and several campgrounds make this section ideal for those wanting a great river trip with or without overnight camping. Be sure to bring warm paddling clothes, because the water here is very cold and hypothermia is a definite possibility for paddlers swimming in the river without proper insulation. This section also can serve as a great base camp for running other nearby rivers on day trips.

Technical Data
Class Rating III to IV-
Length 12.4 miles
Minimum Flow 500 cfs
Optimum Flow 800-1,500 cfs
Maximum Flow 2,000 cfs
First Put-in Yule Quarry Bridge in Marble
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out SH 133 pull-off above Redstone
Lat. / Long.
Elevation 7,930-7,552 feet msl
Gradient 80 fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Redstone
Boats Canoes w/ flotation, Kayaks, Rafts
Season May through July
Permits No

Canoeman River Guide Services offers river trips, trip planning and instruction on rivers in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Click HERE to visit the web site of Rocky Mountain Canoe Club

Poudre Paddlers Canoe and Kayak Club

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Crystal River where you want to paddle.

[ Crystal River Homepage ] [ Crystal Mill Falls to Crystal Gorge ] [ Crystal Gorge ]
[ Meatgrinder to The Narrows ] [ Avalanche to BRB Campground ]

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