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General Information

The Crystal Mill, between Marble and Crystal City
Copyright: Robbie George - Ute City Photo
The Crystal Mill, between Marble and Crystal City
Description - The Crystal River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the west, tumbling more than 35 miles through scenic terrain to join the Roaring Fork River two miles below Carbondale.

The River and its tributaries and lakes have Rainbow, Brook and Cutthroat Trout. Browns may be found close to the Roaring Fork especially during the fall spawn. The Crystal is a swift river and does not provide high quality aquatic habitat due to mining pollution. Therefore, the highest concentrations of fish can be found close to the Roaring Fork confluence and in the creeks which run into the river.

Attractions - The River and its tributaries and lakes have Rainbow, Brook and Cutthroat Trout. Browns may be found close to the Roaring Fork especially during the fall spawn. The Crystal is a swift river and does not provide high quality aquatic habitat due to mining pollution. Therefore, the highest concentrations of fish can be found close to the Roaring Fork confluence and in the creeks which run into the river.

Recreation - Numerous lakes and streams flowing into the Crystal River provide angling for Rainbow and Brook Trout. Some of the best fishing in the Crystal River drainage may be in the Thompson Creeks area. They flow into the river form the west 4.5 miles south of Carbondale. Angling for Rainbow and Cutthroat in these small streams may require a forest service map, observe posted signs and gates.

The Crystal River is an exciting and beautiful river for whitewater sport, but it is relatively unused. There are plenty of good class III and IV rapids, but you need to be there during the spring runoff when the flows are high.
Runs:
Avalanche Ranch to BRB Campground -Class III, watch out for low head dam and strainers
Bogen Flats-Class IV, Beautiful Area, and not too difficult for a Class IV.
Meat Grinder-Class V, unrunnable as of now because of logs.

Climate - The elevation of the Crystal River is approximately 7,000 feet. Persons coming from lower elevations should be aware that time is needed to adjust to the higher elevations.

Warm days and cool to freezing nights can be expected in the mountains during the summer. July and August are usually the warmest months. During this time afternoon thunderstorms are common. Be prepared for both warm and chilly weather, as well as for rain showers.

Location - The North Fork of the Crystal River flows seven miles from its origins to join the South Fork at the ghost town of Crystal. It has many beaver ponds and open, but difficult, fishing in a canyon for cutthroat. A difficult, rocky four-wheel drive road above the river is often blocked by snow until midsummer.

The South Fork of the river above Crystal is accessed by a very difficult four-wheel drive road which is closed by snow until midsummer. It should only be tried by most experienced drivers with small, high-clearance four-wheel drives.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Very tough road - really need 4WD - used my 2000 Explorer AWD - made it but would not want any tougher. Can not go up canyon towards Geneva Lake from town of Crystal too rough. Fishing excellant on lures - tough fishing because of terrain & speed of water. One of most scenic areas of Colorado.

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report:

Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: terrifying,breathtaking.The wrecked vehicle at the bottom was not an encouraging sight while backing up for another vehicle to pass! Lunch at the Redstone Inn and have the tortilla soup. Best I've ever enjoyed. Suggestions for next guy: take the guided tour or a four-wheeler, not the family SUV. Very bumpy, scratched the paint on brush and rocks.

Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: What a beautiful location... I went to the Crtsral for the first time in Aug. of 2003 and it has to be in my top 5 place to camp. The water was a bit low for any boating but I did well fishing. From our camp site we hiked up river from the mill, following the jeep trail to a meadow, at the base of the mountian and had lunch. Looking down the valley offers some great photo opps. This year we plan on going late summer, and hiking up to a lake, not sure of the name, past the meadow. Bring all your gear, we had some warm days, but rain each afternoon, and the night get cold. You should have a 4x4 to get into the valley but I did see a Subaru Forester there last year. Enjoy & leave no trace...


More Information

Additional Information:
Aspen Area - Aspen sits at the upper end of the scenic Roaring Fork Valley, in the mountains of west-central Colorado. Aspen is a world-class ski resort, and with its mountain setting, a center for endless other outdoor recreation activities.
Basalt Area - The small town of Basalt lies at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and the Fryingpan Rivers. The nearest highway to Basalt is Colorado 82 which passes through the southern end of town.
Colorado Rivers & Streams - Colorado's rivers and streams are characterized by steep continuous drops in the mountains and slow moving big rivers in the plains. In the west the Colorado river and its many tributaries cut through the desert. Excellent fishing opportunities can be found throughout the state.
Glenwood Springs Area - The Glenwood Springs Area includes Glenwood Canyon, the portion of the Colorado River around Glenwood Springs and the lower Roaring Fork River Valley. The area is located approximately 160 miles west of Denver.
Northwest Region - This diverse area encompasses mountains and high desert. The terrain supports a huge variety of recreation opportunities and some of Colorado's world famous resorts.

Links:
Forest Conservancy - Current Information From Local Volunteers, conditions and Closings
Ute City Photo - View local photographer Robbie George's stunning landscape and wildlife photographs of Colorado.

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