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South Platte River, Colorado

South Platte , river, c.450 mi (720 km) long, rising in the Rocky Mts. in many branches, which then join in central Colorado. It flows in a narrow canyon E and NE to Denver, then NE across the Great Plains to join the North Platte in central Nebraska, where it forms the Platte River. On the Great Plains the river is broad and shallow and loses much water by evaporation. Grazing and irrigated agriculture are important there. The river basin has many private irrigation dams. The upper course of the South Platte is part of the Bureau of Reclamation's Colorado-Big Thompson project.

flow data | 2002 paddling | 2003 paddling | 2004 paddling | 2005 paddling | links


South Platte River 2001

January 21st, cold afternoon with snow clouds over entire Colorado, the last glimpse of sun. The winter of 2000/2001 is pretty cold; all my paddling lakes are frozen. The only open water I can find is the South Platte River.

South Platte River
I am launching my kayak at Mitani-Tokuyasu State Wilderness Area (SWA) located below Greeley, where the Cache La Poudre River joins the South Platte. This place can be reached from Highway 263 (east of Greeley) by a short stretch of bumpy road.

I've also explored another possible launching place: the Brower SWA, a few miles upstream -- a little more difficult access to the river.

South Platte River
The flow is about 700 cfs and the river is shallow in wider places. The Cache La Poudre doesn't add much water in winter, only about 70 cfs.

I am paddling upstream against a pretty strong current. A little bit of snow turns this so-so river into a scenic waterway. Despite the nearby civilization and hunters, I see many birds: geese, ducks, eagles and a flock of 20-30 wild turkeys.

South Platte River
After about an hour and a half of paddling and perhaps 3 miles I am reaching my turning point: a diversion dam above the 58th county road bridge. Plumb Ditch?
South Platte River
Resting on a small island just below the dam. Hot tea. It's getting dark and starting to snow again. Snowflakes stick to the lens of my camera, and ice covers the kayak deck.
South Platte River
Even paddling against wind and snow, it takes only 25 minutes to reach my launching point downstream.

Paddling in a snowstorm is much more pleasent than driving in it.

map


It was my second kayak trip on the South Platte River. The first one took place a week earlier. Winter conditions but no snow. I explored the river upstream and downstream of the launching place, as well as a short stretch of Cache La Poudre River.

The third trip: February 11, 2001. The same route as before upstream to the diversion dam and back. Snow but sunny. A lot of hunters and shooting around but getting quiet at sunset. I met the same turkey flock resting on a sandbar.






River Flow Data

S. Platte @ Henderson | S. Platte @ Ft. Lupton | St. Vrain @ at mouth near Platteville | S. Platte @ Kersey

Links

South Platte: Highway 76 Commerce City to Brighton

South Platte: Brighton City Park to Ft. Lupton

Brighton City Park to Ft. Lupton by Canoe Colorado


flow data | 2002 paddling | 2003 paddling | 2004 paddling | 2005 paddling | links


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