Chasing Fall Water in Colorado

We are on the search to find good features in Colorado that are good training grounds for the World Championships in November. It’s not an easy feat as most Colorado rivers rely on snow melt for flows and typically the season is rather short. Once August hits, there are very few rivers running, let alone good training holes.

We got super lucky mid-late August as the Arkansas River held at about 500 cfs for a full 10 days longer than expected and both Salida and BV are perfect places to practice throwing tricks!

But now, in mid-September we started weighing our options of either heading to the SouthEast to Pigeon and NOC or to ID and grabbing whatever we could to train.

We checked out the Glenwood wave. It’s decent at these lower flows, but only lefty tricks go because the hole pushes right really hard, and flushes you almost immediately. Not the best place to train.

The Basalt Whitewater Park was great this summer, but now that the water has dropped significantly, it is really shallow and the two features have all but disappeared. That’s not good.

So, Basalt and Glenwood are out. But there are other places to try.

We hit up Gore which has guaranteed water pretty much all year. Now Gore is a pretty sick place to play. Loops went super huge and easy. But, every other trick is really difficult and the feature is pretty flushy.

The surfers left hole is sticky, but again it pushed right where it is flushy and more wave like. Still, we’ve gone to Gore a few times cause it’s always good to train in a more difficult feature and my dad loves to just throw loop after loop.

BV, as I mentioned earlier, is another awesome training spot. BV (Buena Vista) has two amazing features. Both holes are better at higher flows like 600-1000 CFS. But when we were there it was running at 400-500 CFS, which is still pretty good for the bottom hole.

It was great for training, I learned a couple of new tricks and dialed down some of my less consistent tricks. But unfortunately the water level dropped dramatically. So sadly BV is no good for training at this time of the year.

Salida!! Salida is awesome. The boat ramp feature at 500 CFS isn’t great, but the hole under the bridge is really cool. It is really wide and sticky enough to stay in the hole. It also was a really good place for my younger siblings Coby, Elly, & Emmy to learn how to surf and they did amazing. But since it’s also on the Arkansas river, when BV dropped Salida also dropped.

So, at this point the only other place we knew of was Pueblo, and Canon City.

Both also on the Arkansas river but are further downstream so more water flows in from other places. But we have never been to either before, hence, we had no clue what it was like. We asked around the Colorado paddling community and no one had any beta about it – except that there were eight features.

We decided, we had to check it ourselves. We left BV and headed straight for Pueblo, where the water was a steady 800 cfs. We had to pass through Canon City on our way to Pueblo, so we stopped to check it out. At these flows there was really nothing but a little rapid, so we didn’t bother to kayak.

We got to Pueblo the next morning and pulled in right by #1 (the first feature). We all quickly jumped out of the RV and went and checked them all out. Number 1 was just a narrow little wave, so we kept walking down river and saw #2.

Number 2 was a really wide hole that looked really good for kayaking. We were super excited and kept going to look at all of them.

The next four were little green waves with not much whitewater.

Then Number 6 was a really good looking hole with green waves on each side.

So far, Dally and I thought the second one was gonna be the best. We went and look at the last two and again nothing but little rapids.

We quickly ran back to the top and grabbed our boats and jumped right in. We paddled down river to #2, it turned out it was extremely shallow but also really sticky.

So we immediately kept paddling down river. I dropped into Number 6 first and knew it was going to be really good, which it was. Every trick went and didn’t flush. After 30 minute session we hiked all the way back up to our RV and got everyone else to get in with us including Coby, Elly, & Emmy. They ended up paddling their first ever class 3 river and styled it.

So far Pueblo is the best spot for training in Colorado, we are heading back up there tomorrow and staying until the water drops, which hopefully won’t be too soon!!

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