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
S Clear Cr Abv Lwr Cabin Cr Res Spilwy Nr Georgtwn
USGS 06714500
5 cfs 0.5 ft
Blue River Below Green Mountain Reservoir
USGS 09057500
159 cfs 3.3 ft
Chicago Creek Blw Devils Canyon Nr Idaho Sprgs Co
USGS 06717400
7 cfs 0.7 ft
Bear Creek At Morrison
USGS 06710500
15 cfs 5.7 ft
Elk Creek At Upper Station
USGS 09025300
0 cfs 5.0 ft
Pioneer Canal Near Woods
USGS 06659501
174 cfs 1.6 ft
Michigan River At Walden
USGS 06617100
9 cfs 1.2 ft
Booth Creek Near Minturn
USGS 09066200
0 cfs 2.9 ft
Grand River Ditch At La Poudre Pass
USGS 09010000
0 cfs 0.0 ft
Williams Fork Near Leal
USGS 09036000
33 cfs 1.6 ft
Snotel Site Snowpack 24hr Change
Hoosier Pass
SNOTEL 531
1" 0"
Lake Irene
SNOTEL 565
1" 0"
Willow Creek Pass
SNOTEL 869
1" 1"
Never Summer
SNOTEL 1031
1" 0"
Saint Elmo
SNOTEL 1100
1" 0"
Rawah
SNOTEL 1032
6" 0"
Laprele Creek
SNOTEL 571
1" 0"
Brooklyn Lake
SNOTEL 367
1" 0"
Loveland Basin
SNOTEL 602
1" 1"
Vail Mountain
SNOTEL 842
1" 0"
Echo Lake
SNOTEL 936
1" 0"
Black Mountain
SNOTEL 1161
1" 1"
Fremont Pass
SNOTEL 485
1" 0"
Crow Creek
SNOTEL 1045
1" 1"
Arapaho Ridge
SNOTEL 1030
1" 0"
Stillwater Creek
SNOTEL 793
1" 1"
Jackwhacker Gulch
SNOTEL 935
1" 1"

Outdoor Recreation

Campground Campsites Reservations Toilets Showers Elevation
Browns Park 28 8,450 ft
Chambers Lake 44 9,166 ft
Aspen Glen 9 8,694 ft
Long Draw 25 10,059 ft
The Crags - State Forest State Park 26 9,917 ft
Timber Creek - Rocky Mountain National Park 100 8,933 ft
Green Ridge 78 8,360 ft
Sunset Point 25 8,297 ft
Tunnel 49 8,608 ft
Sleeping Elephant 15 7,865 ft
Big South 4 8,580 ft
Arapaho Bay 84 8,337 ft
Stillwater 129 8,315 ft
Big Bend 8 7,717 ft
Grand View 9 10,038 ft
North Fork Poudre 9 9,159 ft
Ski Area Snowpack Air Temperature 5 Day Forecast
Ski Estes Park (Hidden Valley) -1" 65° 0"
Eldora Mountain Resort -1" 66° 0"
SolVista Basin at Granby Ranch 0" 61° 0"
River Run Streamflow Length Class
Rustic (Upper) 76.7cfs 20.0 Mi III to III+
Spencer Heights 76.7cfs 2.5 Mi V- to V
Big South 44.0cfs 12.0 Mi V to V+
Upper Blue (Blue River CG to Columbine Landing) 109.0cfs 3.0 Mi III to IV-
NSV 17.4cfs 13.0 Mi V+
Upper North Fork 66.2cfs 9.0 Mi IV+ to V-