Big South


Ask a seasoned Colorado kayaker what their favorite run in the state is, and more times than not you’ll hear the words “Big South” in their response.  High up the Cache La Poudre river drainage, melting off the eastern slope of Rocky Mountain National Park, this gem funnels its way through relatively unspoiled high altitude forests and meadows.  In California, this run might blend in with the crowd, but in Colorado, this stands out as a long stretch of quality whitewater in a wilderness setting.  It’s not uncommon to find East coast boaters staked out at this run on a summer road trip and Fort Collins locals always abound.

Suggested river levels for paddling this section of the Cache La Poudre River are between a bare minimum of 150cfs and a high of 800cfs. River conditions sourced from USGS 06716500, the Clear Creek Near Lawson Remember only watercraft are permitted at Big South.

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Area Hydrology

Gauge Streamflow Stage
Elk Creek At Upper Station
USGS 09025300
3 cfs 5.3 ft
Buckhorn Creek Near Masonville
USGS 06739500
9 cfs 6.6 ft
St. Vrain Creek At Lyons
USGS 06724000
302 cfs 4.0 ft
Leavenworth Creek @ Mouth Nr Georgetown
USGS 06714800
20 cfs 3.9 ft
Fraser River At Upper Sta
USGS 09022000
24 cfs 1.3 ft
St. Louis Creek Near Fraser
USGS 09026500
37 cfs 1.7 ft
Blue River Below Green Mountain Reservoir
USGS 09057500
64 cfs 2.6 ft
Vasquez Creek At Winter Park
USGS 09025000
44 cfs 2.1 ft
Blue River Near Dillon
USGS 09046600
122 cfs 4.9 ft
N Frk Cache La Poudre R Blw Halligan Res Nr V Dal
USGS 06751150
82 cfs 3.0 ft
Snotel Site Snowpack 24hr Change

Outdoor Recreation

Campground Campsites Reservations Toilets Showers Elevation
Big South 4 8,580 ft
The Crags - State Forest State Park 26 9,917 ft
Timber Creek - Rocky Mountain National Park 100 8,933 ft
Sunset Point 25 8,297 ft
Long Draw 25 10,059 ft
Sleeping Elephant 15 7,865 ft
North Fork Poudre 9 9,159 ft
Green Ridge 78 8,360 ft
Browns Park 28 8,450 ft
Grand View 9 10,038 ft
Arapaho Bay 84 8,337 ft
Big Bend 8 7,717 ft
Stillwater 129 8,315 ft
Aspen Glen 9 8,694 ft
Chambers Lake 44 9,166 ft
Tunnel 49 8,608 ft
Ski Area Snowpack Air Temperature 5 Day Forecast
Ski Estes Park (Hidden Valley) 42" 69° 0"
Eldora Mountain Resort 24" 70° 0"
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch 57" 47° 6.06"
River Run Streamflow Length Class
Upper Blue (Blue River CG to Columbine Landing) 179.0cfs 3.0 Mi III to IV-
Spencer Heights 182.0cfs 2.5 Mi V- to V
NSV 37.8cfs 13.0 Mi V+
Big South 287.0cfs 12.0 Mi V to V+
Rustic (Upper) 182.0cfs 20.0 Mi III to III+
Upper North Fork 27.7cfs 9.0 Mi IV+ to V-