- The Poudre is one of Colorado's quintessential freestone rivers. It starts as a small stream high in Rocky Mountain National Park and becomes one of the larger rivers in Colorado. Not only is the scenery surrounding this river beautiful, but the natural power of an unobstructed river is awesome. The ample fishing and multiple whitewater opportunities combine to make this river one of the best in the state.
Recreation - The Poudre provides approximately 47 miles of fishable mountain water that is generally considered in two sections. The upper headwaters section in Rocky Mountain National Park averages 25 feet wide and offers some fantastic fly fishing. But this area is not easily accessible. You must either hike or 4 Wheel Drive in. The lower section is paralleled by Highway 14 and is easily accessible. The convenience combined with the rivers proximity to Fort Collins and Greeley make for heavier fishing pressure.
The Poudre provides varied boating terrain for all skill levels. It has eight popular runs which in order are: Upper Rustic, Lower Rustic, the Narrows, Upper Mishawaka, Lower Mishawaka, Poudre Park, the Bridges, and the Filter Plant.
Upper Rustic is a Class III to III+ run that is 9.4 miles long. This run is a vast stretch of Class III whitewater that is characterized by rolling waves and few obstacles. Lower Rustic is a Class III+ to IV- run that is eight miles in length. This is a beginner/intermediate run that is unique in that it is relatively uncrowded, more scenic, and more secluded than other runs on the river.
The Narrows is the most difficult run on the Poudre. It averages Class V, but can run as light as Class IV or as difficult as a V+. This is a short 3.4 mile section of river, but many consider it to really be three distinct sections. The upper being the most difficult, lower second and the middle section being the closest to Class IV boating.
Upper Mishawaka is a classic western Class IV run with lots of play. This is a short 3.3 mile run but there is plenty to keep you busy. Lower Mishawaka is the next step up on the Poudre from the Filter Plant run. This run is generally only Class III water with few obstacles and only a couple of sticky holes.
Poudre Park is generally a Class IV run, and the pilings of five bridges are the obstacles of this run. Pineview Falls is also on this run which is the site of the Poudre River water gauge. This run is a nice, short 2 miler.
The Bridges run is generally Class III to IV water, but there are two important obstacles to be aware of on this run. Killer Bridge and the Red House Hole can both be dangerous, if you are not confident you should portage them.
The Filter Plant is the classic beginner run on the Poudre. This run is generally a II+ and swimming is generally safe anywhere along this run. There is one bridge which is relatively safe. This run is 2.4 miles.
Climate - The Poudre 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 Poudre 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.
The Poudre runs out of Rocky Mountain National Park onto the plains of Northern Colorado. The Poudre is 47 miles of mountain water that can be generally classified as upper and lower. The upper headwaters section is in Rocky Mountain National Park and can only be accessed by hiking or four-wheel drive. The lower section is easily accessed along Colorado Highway 14, which parallels much of the river.