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
Bear Creek Above Bear Creek Lake Near Morrison
USGS 06710605
7 cfs 3.8 ft
Boulder Creek Near Orodell
USGS 06727000
13 cfs 1.7 ft
Blue River Near Dillon
USGS 09046600
38 cfs 4.4 ft
North Clear Creek Above Mouth Nr Blackhawk
USGS 06718550
4 cfs 3.9 ft
Middle Boulder Creek At Nederland
USGS 06725500
9 cfs 0.6 ft
Grand River Ditch At La Poudre Pass
USGS 09010000
-999 cfs 0.0 ft
Blue River Below Dillon
USGS 09050700
56 cfs 0.9 ft
South Fork Of Williams Fork Near Leal
USGS 09035900
12 cfs 2.3 ft
Laramie R Bl Pioneer Canal Nr Woods Landing
USGS 06659502
1,010 cfs 3.2 ft
Fall River Near Idaho Springs
USGS 06717000
4 cfs 3.7 ft
Snotel Site Snowpack 24hr Change
Brooklyn Lake
SNOTEL 367
66" 1"
evergreen 1.3 nne, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-424
3.68" 2.84"
estes park 3.3 ssw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-247
7.49" 3.73"
Phantom Valley
SNOTEL 688
20" 3"
North French Creek
SNOTEL 668
68" 0"
Copeland Lake
SNOTEL 412
10" 4"
amrad
SNOTEL CNRC2
5.56" 3.34"
boulder 2.1 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-437
1.53" 1.22"
Summit Ranch
SNOTEL 802
17" 2"
nathrop 1.9 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-CF-54
1.28" -0.1"
allens park 1.5 ese, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-22
12.21" 7.12"
estes park 1.8 s, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-767
6.5" 3.31"
Jones Pass
SNOTEL 970
39" 6"
Saint Elmo
SNOTEL 1100
26" 0"
rollinsville 1.7 e, co
SNOTEL CO-GL-25
3.69" 2.36"
gross reservoir
SNOTEL GRRC2
2.96" 2.16"
Michigan Creek
SNOTEL 937
36" 0"
co st forest st park
SNOTEL CSFC2
2.29" 2.25"
Laprele Creek
SNOTEL 571
31" 2"
estes park 1.7 w, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-1115
6.41" 2.99"
bailey
SNOTEL BLYC2
3.18" 1.1"
nathrop 3.3 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-CF-19
1.31" -0.06"
red feather 5.9 ne, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-329
5.57" 3.71"
glen haven 1.2 n, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-868
5.65" 2.58"
georgetown
SNOTEL GEOC2
4.14" 2.84"
evergreen 6.5 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-CC-1
6.02" 4.06"
nederland 5.8 e, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-57
4.54" 2.66"
Berthoud Summit
SNOTEL 335
59" 6"
estes park,co
SNOTEL ETSC2
5.8" 2.92"
Fremont Pass
SNOTEL 485
48" 2"
boulder 1.5 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-490
1.41" 1.17"
arvada 4.7 w, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-455
0.5" 0"
Willow Park
SNOTEL 870
58" 3"
Windy Peak
SNOTEL 872
34" -1"
tabernash 2.7 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-GR-68
0.36" 0"
florissant 5.0 n, co
SNOTEL CO-TL-19
0.62" 0.09"
longmont 3.3 sw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-507
0.51" 0"
Arapaho Ridge
SNOTEL 1030
57" 6"
nederland 3.7 ene, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-296
5.43" 2.94"
boulder 2.2 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-452
2.23" 1.87"
Hourglass Lake
SNOTEL 1122
41" 6"
silverthorne 21 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-SU-35
0.37" 0"
lyons 4.8 n, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-50
6.67" 5.46"
evergreen 2.0 ese, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-395
3.84" 2.77"
grant
SNOTEL GRTC2
7.58" 2.98"
ralston reservoir
SNOTEL GDNC2
2.39" 2.25"
Elliot Ridge
SNOTEL 1120
49" 4"
Vail Mountain
SNOTEL 842
28" 1"
boulder 1.5 nnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-496
1.01" 0"
Med Bow
SNOTEL 1196
94" 4"
Jackwhacker Gulch
SNOTEL 935
39" 3"
Bear Lake
SNOTEL 322
57" 8"
aspen springs amrad
SNOTEL ASIC2
3.7" 2.65"
berthoud 4.4 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-922
3.24" 2.91"
nederland 2.61 nne, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-75
6.13" 3.25"
boulder 2.9 s, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-4
0.96" 0"
boulder 2.0 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-380
1.43" 1.13"
Rawah
SNOTEL 1032
23" 6"
south platte river
SNOTEL ANTC2
2.42" -0.32"
evergreen 4.2 sse, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-157
4.54" 3.17"
boulder 4.7 e, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-67
0.64" 0"
Loveland Basin
SNOTEL 602
60" 5"
estes park 1.8 sse, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-987
6.43" 3.25"
Wild Basin
SNOTEL 1042
43" 0"
niwot 0.7 nnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-338
0.55" 0"
boulder 1.6 s, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-14
1.07" 0.99"
Buckskin Joe
SNOTEL 938
33" -1"
boulder 1.9 se, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-30
0.7" 0"
hygiene,co
SNOTEL HGIC2
0.66" 0"
buford 4se
SNOTEL BFDW4
2.6" 2.07"
buena vista,co
SNOTEL BNVC2
1.88" -0.11"
jamestown 2.5 sse, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-343
6.12" 3.61"
evergreen 3.4 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-CC-22
5.47" 3.88"
evergreen
SNOTEL EVGC2
3.45" 2.63"
laramie 1se
SNOTEL ADFW4
0.79" 0.21"
nederland 0.4 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-322
5.74" 3.27"
fairplay 2.7 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-PK-15
26.53" 1.43"
estes park 10.5 se, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-1019
9.48" 6.28"
Crow Creek
SNOTEL 1045
12" 0"
conifer 3.2 sw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-53
4.5" 2.5"
ward 4.6 ne, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-202
11.48" 6.42"
University Camp
SNOTEL 838
55" 4"
lake george 7.2 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-PK-39
1.35" 0.15"
climax coop
SNOTEL CLXC2
36.92" 0.39"
rollinsville 1.1 ssw, co
SNOTEL CO-GL-17
12.99" 2.67"
la porte 10.0 nnw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-567
3.42" 3.18"
Hoosier Pass
SNOTEL 531
46" 1"
nederland 4.8 ene, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-110
4.98" 2.77"
evergreen 5 w, co
SNOTEL CO-CC-2
5.48" 3.83"
boulder 4.7 ene, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-220
0.55" 0"
arvada 3.5 wnw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-457
0.53" 0"
vail 3.5 e, co
SNOTEL CO-EG-53
16.4" 0.01"
bellvue 5.9 w, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-4
5.28" 3.53"
niwot 2.3 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-248
0.67" 0"
fort collins 5.4 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-623
5.32" 4.46"
cheesman
SNOTEL CHEC2
1.02" 0"
laramie 7sse
SNOTEL CMBW4
0.93" 0.33"
golden 12.5 nw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-331
3.71" 2.56"
virginia dale 7.2 ssw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-672
4.86" 3.73"
cabin creek
SNOTEL GCRC2
20.91" 4.1"
nederland 4.2 e, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-233
4.68" 2.68"
conifer 5.7 sw, co
SNOTEL CO-JF-222
3.78" 1.72"
Never Summer
SNOTEL 1031
49" 7"
lyons 0.3 nne, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-146
4.7" 4.13"
livermore 9.9 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-LR-897
5.22" 3.74"
silverthorne 2.1 wsw, co
SNOTEL CO-SU-6
13.4" 0.36"
boulder 1.8 w, co
SNOTEL CO-BO-491
1.53" 1.22"
Sawtooth
SNOTEL 1251
63" 4"

Outdoor Recreation

Campground Campsites Reservations Toilets Showers Elevation
North Fork Poudre 9 9,159 ft
Big Bend 8 7,717 ft
Stillwater 129 8,315 ft
The Crags - State Forest State Park 26 9,917 ft
Chambers Lake 44 9,166 ft
Timber Creek - Rocky Mountain National Park 100 8,933 ft
Big South 4 8,580 ft
Browns Park 28 8,450 ft
Arapaho Bay 84 8,337 ft
Tunnel 49 8,608 ft
Sunset Point 25 8,297 ft
Sleeping Elephant 15 7,865 ft
Long Draw 25 10,059 ft
Aspen Glen 9 8,694 ft
Green Ridge 78 8,360 ft
Grand View 9 10,038 ft
Ski Area Snowpack Air Temperature 5 Day Forecast
Ski Estes Park (Hidden Valley) 57" 27° 14.19"
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch 42" 26° 11.52"
Eldora Mountain Resort 26" 26° 14.44"
River Run Streamflow Length Class
Spencer Heights 56.4cfs 2.5 Mi V- to V
NSV 55.4cfs 13.0 Mi V+
Big South 39.9cfs 12.0 Mi V to V+
Upper Blue (Blue River CG to Columbine Landing) 246.0cfs 3.0 Mi III to IV-
Upper North Fork 69.7cfs 9.0 Mi IV+ to V-
Rustic (Upper) 56.4cfs 20.0 Mi III to III+