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Rio Grande River

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General Information

Description - The Rio Grande starts high in the San Juan Mountains as a small stream. It falls to the border with New Mexico. This river holds a solid trout fishery and excellent flat water for raft and canoe trips. The Rio Grande has something for everyone with great scenery, solid fishing and few crowds.

Recreation - The Rio Grande del Norte (The Big River of the North) and its many tributaries offer a wide range of fishing opportunities, from small creek fishing to the challenge of a larger freestone river. There is an abundance of aquatic insect life in this fine trout fishery including several species of mayflies, caddis and stone-flies.

This famous river begins as a small stream high in the San Juan mountains, at the Rio Grande Reservoir, about 27 miles west of Creede. There are brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout in the reservoir, but fishing can be irregular depending on water levels.

Above Rio Grande Reservoir you can find rainbow, brown and cutthroat. Below the Rio Grande Reservoir there are primarily brown trout with some rainbows. Above the Rio Grande Reservoir during the end of June into September is the best time to fish. In mid-June the river below Rio Grande Reservoir will usually drop and clear, providing the best dry-fly fishing action through mid-July. The section downstream from the South Fork tends to fish best with lower water (July to September is best).
The Rio Grande is a very solid fishery, with an abundance of fish in the 12-16 inch range, with larger fish scattered throughout.

For boaters the Colorado stretch of the Rio Grande provides an easy float. For 30 miles, it winds through sage brush, piƱon and juniper along rock formations. Wildlife such as deer, elk, beaver, muskrat, eagles and falcons are frequently sighted. A backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo range compliments the solitude one feels while floating this river.

This segment of the Rio Grande is serene and relaxing. However, several miles below the New Mexico state line the river becomes full of rapids and quite technical. Only rafters and experienced kayakers should float beyond this area. The Colorado float is easy and it usually takes two days. Take-outs past the Lobotos Bridge require carrying equipment up a steep 200 to 400 foot trail that is not maintained.

Climate - The Rio Grande River is situated in high mountainous altitudes. 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.

Being at high elevation and fueled mainly by melting snow, the Rio Grande is a rather cold river. During the spring runoff the river is full of freshly melted snow, and the temperature of the water is especially cold.
Please make sure that you dress appropriately when participating in whitewater sports. Wear shoes that can protect feet if you bounce off rocks or walk out of a canyon in the event of an accident. Wet suits are mandatory when air and water temperature added together total 100 degrees or less. If total is less than 80 degrees, a full set of waterproof or wool garments on top of the wet suit should be worn.

Location - This famous river begins as a small stream high in the San Juan mountains, at the Rio Grande Reservoir, about 27 miles west of Creede. It then flows east following Highway 149 to Del Norte. In Del Norte the river forks and flows towards New Mexico. To reach the Rio Grande follow Highway 160 west out of Alamosa to Del Norte. From Del Norte the river follows Highway 149 to Creede.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Bill McMinn (Mineral Wells, Texas)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: There is not a bad place to fish that I have found on the Rio Grand in Colorado. I like to fish best around South Fork and Creede.

More Information

Additional Information:
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.


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