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Gore Creek, Colorado
Report by Marc W. McCord

East Vail to Intermountain Park Access
~ 9.2 Miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

Set against a backdrop of the Vail Golf Course, tall spruce and aspen trees and snowcapped mountains is Gore Creek, a 9.2-mile, Class III to IV whitewater play spot with a gradient of about 67 fpm. The area is developed, and runs by many quaint shops, restaurants and other places of a commercial nature. Artificial fish dams on the Upper Gore Creek create play spots for squirt boaters and offer a good warm-up for less experienced boaters before they tackle the bigger drops downstream. This section is home to the Betty Ford Rehabilitation Center and a hole affectionately called "Betty Ford's Hole" (I ain't touchin' THAT one!) where squirters can roll, do enders, cartwheels and other show-off maneuvers for a spectator audience along the banks.

Lower Gore Creek is a Class III to IV playground. You will recognize it emergence by the odors coming from a sewage treatment plant. This section offers many holes and rapids where boaters can test their skills. Immediately below Gore Creek is Dowd Chute on the Eagle River, where paddlers may exit at the USFS Visitor center, or continue on downriver to any of the access points on the Eagle River below Dowd Chute. The season is usually short, but for those who love whitewater this can be a great run, either separately, or as part of an Eagle River trip.


Eagle County in the White River national Forest of west central Colorado, near Vail. Nearby streams include the Yampa, Colorado, Fryingpan, Roaring Forks and Arkansas Rivers, with many feeder streams in close proximity.

Distance from major cities

Grand Junction 174 miles; Denver 98 miles; Santa Fe miles; Albuquerque miles; Phoenix miles; Oklahoma City 739 miles; Tulsa 844 miles; Dallas 948 miles; Austin 1,138 miles; San Antonio 1,218 miles; Houston 1,194 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

The water is cold, clean and clear, but not drinkable without purification. Upper Gore Creek is rated Class II to III. Lower Gore Creek is rated Class III to IV, with portages necessary when flows exceed 800 cfs (3.5 feet) - check gauges at the Interfaith Chapel Access below Vail, private bridge at West Vail or adjacent to the USFS Visitors Center at Dowd Chute on the Eagle River.

Best time to go

Typically, May through June, and possibly part of July, depending upon the winter snow pack and/or recent local summer rains. Heavy snowpack and/or heavy rains can extend the season by a few days to a few weeks, while drier years may result in a similarly shortened season.

Hazards to navigation

Class III to IV rapids, with some holes to avoid, are located starting below Vail and just above where Red Sandstone Creek enters on river right. These are identified by their locations rather than by names, as follows: (1) just beyond the sewage treatment plant; (2) 1/3 mile past the Westin Hotel, next to the tennis courts; (3) just above Intermountain Park (at the West Vail exit off IH 70); (4) a black pipe spanning the river below the park about 1/8 mile below the second Intermountain bridge (the pipe is usually at river level when the flow is optimum); (5) a white pipe that may require rolling under it at high flows; (6) a deer-control fence spanning the river about 200 yards below the white pipe; and (7) a rapid with a hole about 200 yards beyond the deer-control fence. One more "easy" Class IV rapid portends the confluence with the Eagle River at Dowd Chutte.

NOTE: The black pipe can be portaged on river left, but this is private property. Please be polite and courteous if encountering landowners, and do NOT damage their property.

River access points

East Vail exit off IH 70 at 0.0 miles; Vail Interfaith Chapel at about 5.0 miles; Intermountain Park Access at about 9.2 miles; and Riverbend bus stop (on the Eagle River) at about 15.0 miles - this access is below the Dowd Chute run.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There is a campground on Red Sandstone Creek, between Gore Creek and the Piney River. There are numerous accommodation facilities nearby that cater to skiers and others, some of which may be open during the Eagle River paddling season, but be sure to bring your wallet!

Liveries, Outfitters and Shuttle Services

There are no liveries or shuttle services known to be operating along this section of the Eagle River. There may be liveries and shuttle services off the river that are available to assist with Eagle river runs. Ask locals or consult with other boaters who know this area.

Reviewer's comments

Gore Creek offers sections for intermediate as well as advanced to expert paddlers on a very beautiful, though somewhat developed waterway. It runs right through the ski resort town of Vail, against a backdrop of amazing scenery including a golf course, tall mountains, tall trees and a quaint little town that is quieter during paddling season than during ski season. This is an excellent place to take some great photos. The challenges on Gore Creek are not too tough for experienced paddlers, but could pose serious problems for lesss experienced paddlers who are not on their game. All paddlers should beware of the low pipes and the deer fence that span the river, and take care to avoid pinning or capsizing at any of them. The water is cold, so dress appropriately, and expect to get wet.

Technical Data
Class Rating I to IV w/ mandatory portages
Length 9.2 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in East Vail exit off IH 70
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out Intermountain Park Access
Lat. / Long.
Elevation 8,360-7,745 feet msl
Gradient 67 fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Upper Station
Boats Canoes w/ flotation, Kayaks, Rafts
Season May through July (?)
Permits No

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