Upper Colorado River

Upper Colorado River Pumphouse to Rancho del Rio

One of the most, if not the most popular river stretches in Colorado is known as the Upper Colorado River. The section can be as difficult or as easy going as you want it to be and is a great stretch for Ducky/Float Trips, Whitewater rafting, Paddle Boarding and Fly Fishing. From Kremmling Colorado to Dotsero Colorado, the river runs for 58 miles. The stretch of river is home to the Radium Hot Spring and the State Bridge Lodge and Amphitheater. The most popular day trip on the river is from Pumphouse to Rancho Del Rio. Pumphouse sits just below the Class V Gore Canyon Rapid and on your route from Pumphouse to Rancho Del Rio you will be on Class II and III Whitewater with the famed “Eye of the Needle” rapid being one of the trickier obstacles. There is available camping on the benchmark islands but be sure to arrive early as they tend to fill up quickly. To research water levels and where to camp and trip planning, please visit our friends at newDescents.

Pumphouse Kayak Park

In spring of 2015 the new Pumphouse Kayak Park / play wave was introduced. Though this may sound like great news, many locals believe that the Pumphouse put in was already too busy during high season. The addition of the new play wave also makes for a tricker launch; one must determine whether they want to start above or below. There are essentially two put ins at pumphouse with the more popular one being above the play wave. If you do put in above the kayak park, be sure to look out for kayakers and also be aware that you will be required to make a technical move within the first few yards of your float.

Upper Colorado River Parking

Parking is available at the Pumphouse put in and at the Rancho del Rio take out. Most locals will pay a few dollars to the nice folks at Rancho who will then follow you up to Pumphouse and shuttle your car back to the take out.


Once you exit the "Neddle's Eye" rapid, you will come around the bend and most likely come up on a floatilla - this means you have arrived at the Radium Hot Spring and JumpRock. The hotspring is nestled up against jump rock and is a popular community gathering location. You'll notice a trail leading up the rockface behind the spring which is how the cliff divers get to the top of JumpRock. Here is the deal with JumpRock.... The smarter people watch. At the height, it's about a 40 foot jump which isn't too bad but what people often forget is that they are jumping into a moving body of water. Moving water causes rocks/boulders to shift and for strange items to find there way into the wrong places at the wrong time. There are many horror stories through the years of people hitting rocks, railroad spikes and other types of debris during their jump - even as I write this I am reminded of the time that I split my eye open on a partially submerged log that was floating by just at the right moment of my (last) jump. So, from experience, I suggest that you enjoy a beer and just watch the carnage from others.

Paddle Board Rentals

Because of the 2-3 rapids on the Upper Colorado stretch, Paddle Board Rentals and use is not recommended. You will see expert/crazy paddlers attempting but we do not condone it. The Upper Colorado River is great for Duckie's, Rafts, and Kayaks.

Location Details

No Permit Required

Parking Available

Pumphouse to Radium: 2 Hours. 4 River Miles

Radium to Rancho: 3 hours. 5 River Miles

Seasonal Activities

Rafting / Kayaking / Duckies

Fishing / Fly-Fishing

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