The Upper Colorado River is one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets, featuring some of the most spectacular scenery in the state, and some of the best fishing and hidden adventure opportunities. Through desert plains, red rock canyons, rushing whitewater, and hidden alcoves, the Upper Colorado is full of secrets. The Upper Colorado has some of the state’s most legendary rafting routes, with sections that are tailor-made for beginner, intermediate, and expert rafters alike.
Historically, the Upper Colorado and the town of Kremmling were important outposts dating back from the gold mining days, and the river follows the historical railroad route that headed into the mountains near Steamboat Springs.
The Upper Colorado Route starts from the campsites at Pumphouse or Radium. Despite the fact that the area is so close to the mountains of Steamboat, it takes on it’s own particular character since it has a more arid and desert-like feel than the surrounding alpine environments.
The trip starts by riding the gentle rapids through spectacular plains with the mountains in the distance. From these small rapids there’s opportunities for fishing from rock islands and sandbars in the middle of the river. Here we’ll fish for numerous native species such as the cutthroat greenback trout.
After the initial plains, we’ll travel deep into the red rock canyon, where trout hide under eddies and alcoves, and this is where the whitewater fun begins. We’ll ride some of the most classic whitewater in Colorado ranging from Class II to Class IV depending on the season. We’ll go through classics such as Yarmony Falls and Eye of the Needle.
Once we get past the initial rapids, we’ll have opportunities to explore some of the interesting features of the river. On one side we’ll get to explore local hiking trails and one of the area’s famed hot springs. On the other side there are cliffs for climbing and jumping. There is no bigger thrill than cliff jumping into the icy cold mountain waters of the Colorado River!
Once we’re past the canyon, we’ll travel through the lower sections of the river where we’ll be able to fish through the wider swaths of the river and resupply at Rancho Del Rio, a local river outpost with camping and a large beach. This is a great place to stop, have something to eat and hang out before we make the last push towards State Bridge.
State Bridge is an eclectic community, with a large open-air amphitheater that hosts acts and festivals throughout the summer. It’s a great place to end the day’s journey, or use it as a pit stop before continuing to the other sections of the river up ahead.
The beauty of the Upper Colorado is it’s unique ecology between canyon country and dry desert plains with the mountains rising in the distance. There are opportunities for both single and multi-day trips with spectacular riverside camping, campfire pits, and comfortable amenities. The Upper Colorado is one of Colorado’s fastest growing adventurous hubs with fly fishing, rafting, biking, hiking, and climbing adventures to be had. Join Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides on an unforgettable Upper Colorado adventure!