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Taylor River, Colorado
Report by Marc W. McCord

New Generation to Gunnison
~ 21.0 Miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Taylor River, a tributary of the Gunnison River, begins high in the Gunnison National Forest of Gunnison County, flows through Taylor Park Reservoir, then continues southward through the Town of Almont to the confluence with the Gunnison River below US Highway 50 south of the Town of Gunnison. It is a beautiful Class II to III+ whitewater run that can be made in canoes, kayaks and rafts. The gradient is about 83 fpm in the segment above the South Bank access, and 40 fpm below that point.The river flows through a gorgeous canyon over a granite riverbed with some huge boulders that create exciting, but not particularly challenging, rapids.

FR 742 parallels the Taylor along most of its run, though the channel does occasionally diverge through open ranchland. Multiple access points and a number of area campgrounds make this a fantastic run for those looking for a little less excitement than a hairboat run provides. The river is generally not paddled above Taylor Park Reservoir, but most of the section between the reservoir and Gunnison is runnable. This is an excellent place for beginner and novice whitewater paddlers to develop their skills, or where more experienced padlers can have a fun, but not hazardous, river trip. The 21 mile total length can be a daylong trip for avid paddlers, or split into two days for the more leisurely of our paddling brethern and sistern.


The Gunnison National Forest of Gunnison County, flowing north to south from Dorchester Campground northeast of Crested Butte through Taylor Park Reservoir to Gunnison, where it joins the Gunnison River.

Distance from major cities

Durango 176 miles; Grand Junction 170 miles; Denver 199 miles; Santa Fe 388 miles; Albuquerque 388 miles; Phoenix 628 miles; Oklahoma City 931 miles; Tulsa 1,036 miles; Dallas 1,038 miles; Austin 1,126 miles; San Antonio 1,206 miles; Houston 1,312 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

The Taylor River usually flows clean, clear and cold with a beautiful blue color. Flows are generally below 800 cfs, with the river rated Class II to III+ at almost any navigable level.

Best times to go

The Taylor River has a very short season usually relegated to a period two months or less in May and June, depending upon winter snowpack and seasonal rainfall, which may extend or reduce the season accordingly.

Hazards to navigation

There are no major hazards on the Taylor River. However, at flows exceeding 800 cfs active hydraulic currents develop at a rapid called "The Slot" about one half mile into the run, and at Rodeo Rapid a short distance upstream from the One-Mile Campground bridge near the South Bank Launch, but neither hydraulic is a keeper. Run them straight and fast to avoid capsizing.

River access points

New Generation put-in on river left off FR 742 at 0.0 miles; South Bank Launch on river right off FR 742 at 5.2 miles; Spring Creek access below the South Bank Launch on river left at about 6.0 miles; Almont Post Office access on river left off FR 742 at 12.7 miles; Confluence access on river right off FR 742 below SH 135 at about 12.9 miles; North Bridge off SH 135 just north of the Town of Gunnison at about 21.0 miles.

Campgrounds and accommodations

There are probably about ten campgrounds along or near the Taylor River, most of which are located above the intersection of FR 742 and the Spring Creek Access. Finding a place to pitch a tent is relatively easy on this river.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

At least two commercial outfitters on or near the Taylor River offer rentals, shuttles and river information. Other outfitters in Colorado and surrounding states may provide services on the Taylor River.

Reviewer's comments

If you are a novice or beginner whitewater paddler and want to develop your chops before applying them on tougher rivers, then the Taylor River is just the place for you. If you are an experienced whitewater paddler looking for a trip that will not likely kill you or make you work too hard, then the Taylor River is just the place for you. If you love beautiful scenery with abundant places to pitch a tent for overnight river camping trips, then the Taylor River is just the place for you. The run starts at an elevation of 8,730 feet msl and ends at about 8,000 feet msl, so daytime temperatures will be cool and nights may be freezing cold. Be sure to bring along adequate clothing for whatever happens. Water temperatures make wearing drysuits or wetsuits with a base layer necessary for protection against hypothermia if you go swimming. This run can be made in canoes, kayaks, rafts, duckies or other craft capable of handling Class II to III+ water. The scenery makes a camera one of the necessities for trips here. Paddlers will also be close to many other great Colorado streams including the Gunnison River, Roaring Fork River, Fryingpan River, Crystal River, Big Cimarron River, Cebolla Creek, Ruby Creek and other great places, though many of those are not for anybody with less than intermediate or advanced whitewater skills. The only real negative to the Taylor River is the very short season lasting two months or less in May and June.

Technical Data
Class Rating II to III+
Length 21 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in New Generation Access off FR 742
Lat. / Long.
Last Take-out North Bridge off SH 135
Lat. / Long.
Elevation 8,730-7,680 feet msl
Gradient 83/40 fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Below Taylor Dam
Boats Canoes w/flotation, Kayaks, Rafts
Season May through June (dam releases)
Permits No

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

Poudre Paddlers Canoe and Kayak Club

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

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

Gunnison River

[ Gunnison River Homepage ] [ Headwater to Blue Mesa ] [ Upper Lakes ] [ Black Canyon ] [ Gunnison Gorge ]
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