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
Tenmile Creek Bl North Tenmile C
USGS 09050100
32 cfs 2.1 ft
Blue River Below Dillon
USGS 09050700
69 cfs 0.9 ft
Laramie R Bl Pioneer Canal Nr Woods Landing
USGS 06659502
1,010 cfs 3.2 ft
Fall River Near Idaho Springs
USGS 06717000
-999 cfs -1,310.7 ft
Chicago Creek Blw Devils Canyon Nr Idaho Sprgs Co
USGS 06717400
-999 cfs -1,310.7 ft
Bobtail Creek Near Jones Pass
USGS 09034900
1 cfs 2.3 ft
Cross Creek Near Minturn
USGS 09065100
48 cfs 4.3 ft
Booth Creek Near Minturn
USGS 09066200
1 cfs 3.0 ft
S Clear Cr Abv Lwr Cabin Cr Res Spilwy Nr Georgtwn
USGS 06714500
2 cfs 0.2 ft
Black Gore Creek Near Minturn
USGS 09066000
4 cfs 2.7 ft
Snotel Site Snowpack 24hr Change
nederland 2.61 nne, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-75
6.09" -0.82"
co st forest st park
SNOTEL CSFC2
19.18" -0.23"
Rough And Tumble
SNOTEL 939
11" 0"
lake george 7.2 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-PK-39
0.21" -0.26"
Windy Peak
SNOTEL 872
15" 2"
nederland 4.8 ene, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-110
7.64" -0.8"
boulder 1.8 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-491
2.33" -0.37"
cheesman
SNOTEL CHEC2
1.77" -0.19"
boulder 4.7 ene, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-220
2.96" -0.38"
nathrop 3.3 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-CF-19
0.93" 0.14"
Niwot
SNOTEL 663
34" 0"
estes park,co
SNOTEL ETSC2
3.29" -0.49"
boulder 2.1 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-437
2.33" -0.37"
estes park 10.5 se, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-1019
4.69" -0.5"
Willow Creek Pass
SNOTEL 869
36" -1"
rollinsville 1.1 ssw, co
SNOTEL CO-GL-17
12.12" -0.67"
boulder 2.0 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-380
3.02" -0.34"
boulder 4.7 e, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-67
2.56" -0.31"
golden 12.5 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-331
8.23" -1.15"
rollinsville 1.7 e, co
SNOTEL CO-GL-25
6.44" -0.69"
nederland 0.4 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-322
8.42" -0.59"
cabin creek
SNOTEL GCRC2
13.32" -0.59"
estes park 1.8 s, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-767
7.3" -0.42"
Black Mountain
SNOTEL 1161
30" 1"
Sawtooth
SNOTEL 1251
57" -1"
evergreen 4.2 sse, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-157
3.15" -0.57"
jamestown 2.5 sse, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-343
3.21" -0.64"
Elliot Ridge
SNOTEL 1120
51" -1"
boulder 2.9 s, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-4
2.63" -0.37"
gross reservoir
SNOTEL GRRC2
4.45" -0.85"
Middle Fork Camp
SNOTEL 1014
26" 1"
ward 4.6 ne, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-202
11.51" -0.8"
Med Bow
SNOTEL 1196
71" -1"
florissant 5.0 n, co
SNOTEL CO-TL-19
1.29" -0.42"
lyons 0.3 nne, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-146
3.1" -0.22"
nathrop 1.9 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-CF-54
0.76" 0.06"
Lake Eldora
SNOTEL 564
30" 0"
estes park 1.7 w, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-1115
9.21" -0.48"
silverthorne 2.1 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-SU-6
24.46" -0.24"
conifer 5.7 sw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-222
1.47" -0.32"
hygiene,co
SNOTEL HGIC2
1.81" -0.22"
tabernash 2.7 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-GR-68
18.59" -0.21"
bellvue 5.9 w, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-4
2.61" -0.44"
silverthorne 21 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-SU-35
16.35" -0.15"
Summit Ranch
SNOTEL 802
25" 0"
Laprele Creek
SNOTEL 571
20" 1"
Phantom Valley
SNOTEL 688
26" -2"
conifer 3.2 sw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-53
3.41" -0.48"
south platte river
SNOTEL ANTC2
0.36" -0.04"
dillon,co
SNOTEL DLLC2
11.8" -0.15"
Michigan Creek
SNOTEL 937
28" 0"
Fremont Pass
SNOTEL 485
41" -1"
amrad
SNOTEL CNRC2
3.51" -0.63"
Wild Basin
SNOTEL 1042
42" 0"
nederland 3.7 ene, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-296
8.84" -0.66"
red feather 5.9 ne, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-329
0.51" -0.62"
boulder 1.6 s, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-14
2.63" -0.36"
lyons 4.8 n, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-50
5.01" -0.21"
glen haven 1.2 n, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-868
3.38" -0.49"
livermore 9.9 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-897
1.06" -0.6"
evergreen 3.4 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-CC-22
3.04" -0.59"
evergreen 5 w, co
SNOTEL CO-CC-2
3.01" -0.57"
arvada 3.8 w, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-240
2.02" -0.19"
buena vista,co
SNOTEL BNVC2
1.36" 0.29"
longmont 3.3 sw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-507
2.55" -0.31"
Hourglass Lake
SNOTEL 1122
32" 3"
Joe Wright
SNOTEL 551
53" 0"
Vail Mountain
SNOTEL 842
38" 2"
la porte 10.0 nnw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-567
0.66" -0.17"
virginia dale 7.2 ssw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-672
0.16" -0.47"
georgetown
SNOTEL GEOC2
3.14" -0.49"
Roach
SNOTEL 718
45" 0"
climax coop
SNOTEL CLXC2
18.8" -0.24"
laramie 1se
SNOTEL ADFW4
2.63" -0.1"
ralston reservoir
SNOTEL GDNC2
2.64" -0.04"
Rawah
SNOTEL 1032
26" -1"
fort collins 5.4 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-623
1.87" -0.26"
berthoud 4.4 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-922
3.46" -0.14"
Hoosier Pass
SNOTEL 531
34" -1"
evergreen
SNOTEL EVGC2
3.35" -0.53"
Willow Park
SNOTEL 870
47" -2"
aspen springs amrad
SNOTEL ASIC2
2.99" -0.73"
vail 2.6 e, co
SNOTEL CO-EG-19
23.03" -0.22"
grant
SNOTEL GRTC2
1.92" -0.29"
allens park 1.5 ese, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-22
12.8" -0.81"
Deadman Hill
SNOTEL 438
49" 1"
boulder 1.9 se, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-30
2.65" -0.37"
University Camp
SNOTEL 838
42" 1"
Crow Creek
SNOTEL 1045
16" 0"
Echo Lake
SNOTEL 936
13" 0"
High Lonesome
SNOTEL 1187
51" 2"
bailey
SNOTEL BLYC2
1.63" -0.28"
boulder 2.2 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-452
2.31" -0.36"
buford 4se
SNOTEL BFDW4
1.12" -0.57"
Copeland Lake
SNOTEL 412
25" -2"
arvada 4.7 w, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-455
2.12" -0.15"
boulder 1.5 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-490
4.84" -0.37"
Loveland Basin
SNOTEL 602
43" 0"
evergreen 1.3 nne, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-424
3.41" -0.5"
frisco 0.5 n, co
SNOTEL CO-SU-4
17.77" -0.2"
divide 4nw
SNOTEL DNWC2
0.62" -0.26"
Berthoud Summit
SNOTEL 335
38" 0"
dillon 2.3 se, co
SNOTEL CO-SU-16
15.54" -0.17"
vail 3.5 e, co
SNOTEL CO-EG-53
25.48" -0.24"
estes park 1.8 sse, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-987
2.68" -0.56"
laramie 7sse
SNOTEL CMBW4
3.3" -0.2"
Brooklyn Lake
SNOTEL 367
50" 2"
evergreen 6.5 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-CC-1
3.26" -0.56"
nederland 5.8 e, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-57
8.83" -0.93"
niwot 0.7 nnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-338
2.83" -0.37"
fairplay 2.7 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-PK-15
7.6" -0.24"
estes park 3.3 ssw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-247
2.79" -0.63"
niwot 2.3 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-248
4.41" -0.18"
Jones Pass
SNOTEL 970
37" 0"
nederland 4.2 e, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-233
6.63" -0.9"
evergreen 2.0 ese, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-395
3" -0.53"
boulder 1.5 nnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-496
2.45" -0.35"
Sand Lake
SNOTEL 731
60" 0"
arvada 3.5 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-457
1.99" -0.19"
Bear Lake
SNOTEL 322
41" -1"
Cinnabar Park
SNOTEL 1046
49" 2"

Outdoor Recreation

Campground Campsites Reservations Toilets Showers Elevation
Grand View 9 10,038 ft
North Fork Poudre 9 9,159 ft
Sleeping Elephant 15 7,865 ft
Big South 4 8,580 ft
Aspen Glen 9 8,694 ft
Tunnel 49 8,608 ft
Arapaho Bay 84 8,337 ft
Sunset Point 25 8,297 ft
The Crags - State Forest State Park 26 9,917 ft
Stillwater 129 8,315 ft
Timber Creek - Rocky Mountain National Park 100 8,933 ft
Browns Park 28 8,450 ft
Big Bend 8 7,717 ft
Long Draw 25 10,059 ft
Chambers Lake 44 9,166 ft
Green Ridge 78 8,360 ft
Ski Area Snowpack Air Temperature 5 Day Forecast
Eldora Mountain Resort 30" 17° 1.39"
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch 51" 11° 1.19"
Ski Estes Park (Hidden Valley) 41" 17° 1.58"
River Run Streamflow Length Class
Rustic (Upper) 54.5cfs 20.0 Mi III to III+
Upper North Fork 0.2cfs 9.0 Mi IV+ to V-
Spencer Heights 54.5cfs 2.5 Mi V- to V
Upper Blue (Blue River CG to Columbine Landing) 242.0cfs 3.0 Mi III to IV-
NSV 10.7cfs 13.0 Mi V+
Big South 23.8cfs 12.0 Mi V to V+