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Wild & Scenic Rivers Act 50th Anniversary

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by Ben Costello, April 2018

Wild & Scenic Rivers 50th Anniversary Logo
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic River Act which was enacted by Congress on October 2, 1968. The anniversary of this landmark legislation brings the opportunity for us to celebrate wild, free-flowing rivers and the impact that these rivers have on our lives. We are very fortunate in Fort Collins, that we live next to the only Wild & Scenic River in Colorado, the Cache La Poudre. The Poudre River is near and dear to many in Northern Colorado. I believe it is the lifeblood of our community and our most important natural resource. Let’s take time in 2018 to celebrate the Cache La Poudre, spend time in or near its waters, and make sure we truly understand how positively it impacts our wellbeing.

The Wild & Scenic River Act

The Wild & Scenic Rivers Act is an extremely important piece of legislation because it protects the character of our best free-flowing rivers. Free-flowing rivers are the most healthy ecologically of any river systems and provide for the most impactful recreational experiences. The act allows for management of the rivers for public enjoyment and prevents the rivers from being dammed. It also promotes public involvement in setting goals for rivers while also promoting management that crosses over political boundaries.

Rafting the Wild & Scenic Poudre River with Mountain Whi

Section 1, (b) of the “Wild and Scenic Rivers Act” states, “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States that certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

Section 2 (b) of the “Wild and Scenic River Act” states rivers “shall be classified, designated, and administered as one of the following:

    (1) Wild river areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.
    (2) Scenic river areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.
    (3) Recreational river areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.”

The Wild & Scenic Rivers System

Today, the National Rivers System protects 12,734 miles of 208 rivers in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This is less than one-quarter of one percent of the nation’s rivers. By comparison, more than 75,000 large dams nationwide have modified at least 600,000 miles, or about 17%, of American rivers.*

The Wild & Scenic Cache La Poudre River | Three Rock Rapid in July

Key Facts:

1. Designation as a Wild & Scenic River does not prohibit development or give the federal government control over private property. Recreation, agricultural practices, residential development and other uses can continue (See detailed FAQs here).*

2. Rivers, or sections of rivers that are designated as ‘Wild’, ‘Scenic’, or ‘Recreational’ are protected through voluntary stewardship by landowners and river users, and through regulation and programs of federal, state, local or tribal governments.*

3. Not all land within the boundaries of designated rivers is, or will be, publicly owned, and the Act limits how much land the federal government is allowed to acquire from willing sellers.*

4. The Act strives to balance dam and other construction at appropriate sections of rivers with permanent protection for some of the country’s most outstanding free-flowing rivers. To accomplish this, it prohibits federal support for actions such as the construction of dams or other in-stream activities that would harm the river’s free-flowing condition, water quality or ‘outstandingly remarkable’ resource values.*

5. Designation does not affect existing water rights or the existing jurisdiction of states and the federal government over waters as determined by established principles of law.*

The Wild & Scenic Cache La Poudre River

On October 30, 1986, portions of the Cache La Poudre River were designated for protection under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. The State of Colorado has approximately 107,403 miles of river, of which 76 miles are designated Wild & Scenic. That is less than 1/10th of 1% of the state’s river miles. All 76 of those designated river miles are found in the Cache La Poudre watershed. The main stem of the Poudre from its source at Poudre Lake to Hewlett Gulch Bridge is protected, as well as the South Fork of the Poudre from its source to the confluence with the main stem. 30 miles of the 76 designated miles are considered ‘Wild’ while the remaining 46 miles have a ‘Recreational’ designation.

Rafting the Wild & Scenic Lower Rustic Section of the Cache La Poudre RiverCache La Poudre "Wild & Scenic River"
 

Referrences & Resources

– Wild & Scenic Rivers 50th Anniversary Website, https://www.rivers.gov/wsr50/index.php
– 5,000 miles. 5,000 stories. One Unified Voice for our Nations Rivers, https://www.5000miles.org
– Wild & Scenic Rivers Flicr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/wild_rivers/
– Cache La Poudre River “Wild & Scenic River” Map, https://www.rivers.gov/rivers/cache-la-poudre.php
*from Wild & Scenic River Act 50th Anniversary press kit, http://wsr50.onlinepresskit247.com

Things To Do in Fort Collins, CO During the Rafting Off-Season

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by Ben Costello, March 2018

Summertime in Fort Collins, CO is an amazing time of year. It is the busiest time of year for visitation, outdoor activities, and recreation. Of course, it is the time of year to experience world-class rafting on the Cache La Poudre River with Mountain Whitewater. However, the area does have a multitude of things to do when you cannot go rafting. Spring, Fall, and Winter are a great time to visit or live in Fort Collins. More and more lately, I receive phone calls in our office asking about things to do during our rafting off-season. So, here is a list of ten things to do in Fort Collins when you cannot go rafting.

1. Find a Trail

Things to do in Fort Collins, CO: Snowshoeing at Montgomery PassHiking trails (and snowshoeing in winter) are readily available around Fort Collins year round. Areas like Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, Lory State Park, and the lower Poudre Canyon offer great hiking trails. Spring and Fall are the best times to find open trails, but it is not uncommon for many trails to remain snow free for most of the year.

Cameron Pass area offers many trailheads for snowshoeing and has snow most of the winter. Cameron pass is a reasonably short drive northwest of Fort Collins up Highway 14 through the Poudre Canyon. The area offers lots of great trails like Blue Lake, Zimmerman Lake, Montgomery Pass, Lake Agnes, Big South Trail and more. It is important to remember that these areas are not controlled for avalanches and can be dangerous. When traveling in the backcountry, be prepared. Get local knowledge or go with an experienced person. Always check local avalanche conditions and carry the proper avalanche safety equipment if you plan to travel in avalanche terrain.

For more information about easy access to hiking and snowshoeing near Fort Collins, contact Visit Fort Collins. For more information about the backcountry terrain around Cameron pass, contact Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol.

2. Enjoy Live Music

Things to do in Fort Collins, CO: Live Music at the Aggie TheatreThe music scene in Fort Collins has exploded over the past ten years. While summertime sees tons of outdoor music, music festivals and concerts at the famous Mishawaka Amphitheater, there are lots of opportunities for live music the rest of the year. The Lincoln Center is a City-owned theatre that hosts a wide variety of shows. Countless bars and pubs host live music throughout the City. The Aggie Theater, Hodi’s Half Note, and The Armory are all small to mid-sized theaters that host live shows all year. The newest theatre in Fort Collins, the remodeled Washington’s will be another gem. With all these locations, you can find live music in Fort Collins almost every night, but certainly every weekend.

FoCoMX, one of the best music festivals in Colorado, occurs in Fort Collins in April. This annual event boasts over 200 bands playing at over 20 venues in town over the course of a weekend. This festival showcases how truly special the music scene in Fort Collins really is. The Scene Magazine website is a great resource for music events in Fort Collins.

3. Drink Craft Beer

Things to do in Fort Collins: Craft Beer at Odell BrewingFort Collins is famous for craft beer. It is known by most beer lovers as the craft beer capital of Colorado. Fort Collins brewers are some of the most well known in the country. With 24+ craft breweries in town, it will take more than one day to try them all. Many of the brewers are located in the Old Town area, including Odell Brewing Company and New Belgium Brewing, the two largest in the city. Other breweries can be found in the Old Town area, but it is not the only place to find great beer. Horse & Dragon Brewing is tucked away in an industrial area in northeast Fort Collins. Guilded Goat Brewing Company is situated in mid-town Fort Collins and Zwei Brewing can be found in the southern part of the city.

Many locals like to create their own self-guided tours of the different craft beer manufacturers. They all have tasting rooms or brewpubs onsite. Ride your bike, take the Max, or use a ride service as it can be hard not to try everything. Visit Fort Collins produces a FREE tasting journal for you to keep track of all the amazing beers you sample. If a self-guided tour is not your speed, there are also professional guided tours available. Call the Magic Bus to reserve your tour that includes a ride, local information and history, water, and snacks.

4. Ride a Bike

Things to do in Fort Collins: FC Bikes Bike Share ProgramAccording to the League of American Bicyclists, Fort Collins is one of only three Platinum rafted Bicycle Friendly Communities in the entire country. Riding bikes in Fort Collins is accessible, safe, and fun. Many roads in the City are bicycle friendly, and more are designed specifically to accommodate bike traffic each year. The Poudre Trial runs along the Poudre River through town and is a perfect location for a nice ride. There are several other trail systems in Fort Collins for cyclists to enjoy on both road bikes and mountain bikes. Bikes are a great way to get out, exercise, and enjoy all the things Fort Collins has to offer.

FC Bikes, a part of the local government devoted to safe cycling, organizes bike-related events throughout the year. These events include Bike to Work Days, Open Streets Events, and the new Big Jump Program.

If you do not own your own bike, Fort Collins has a couple of programs to help. The Fort Collins Bike Share program is an innovative form of public transportation through short-term bike use. There are 17 different stations around the city with more than 90 bikes available. Cost is only $2 per hour or you can purchase memberships. The Fort Collins Bike Library is a free service that allows registered residents and visitor to borrow bikes for longer periods of time, up to five days.

5. Catch a Movie

Things to do in Fort Collins: Cinemark Movie BistroFort Collins has lots of options for moviegoers for a mid-sized city. There are five different movie theaters in town, three show regular price, big label movies and one shows older movies at a discount price. One favorite is the Cinemark Movie Bistro that offers multiple screens featuring mainstream movies and large, comfy, reclining chairs. The Bistro servers your average movie snacks, but also has real food, ice cream, beer, and wine. Another favorite option is the unique Lyric Cinema. It is a part coffeehouse, part community hub, and part theatre. They offer great food, drinks, beer, bubble tea and show a lot of independent and local films.

Finally, Fort Collins is home to one of six remaining drive-in movie theaters in Colorado. The Holiday Twin Drive-in is open seasonally in the summertime, so you will have to go to a movie after your rafting trip to visit this gem. They have two big screens that show two movies each, every evening.

6. Grab a Bite

Things to do in Fort Collins: Food at the Blind PigFort Collins has one of the highest numbers of restaurants and eateries per capita in the country. You can find everything from fast-casual to fine dining. Although most every type of food is available, much of the food focus tends to be on fresh ingredients, local products, and quality environments. Old Town is one hub for dining in Fort Collins with hundreds of options within walking distance of each other. Other great areas of the city for great food include the Campus West area, mid-town, the Harmony corridor, and more. Visit Fort Collins has a great Food Guide to help navigate the food scene in Fort Collins.

Another foodie option in Fort Collins are the many unique, artisan specialty shops. Nuance Chocolates creates mouthwatering bean-to-bar chocolate. Rebel Popcorn makes more varieties of delicious home-made popcorn than you can count. The Welsh Rabbit has an amazing assortment of fine cheese and other charcuterie items from around the world. Go to Old Town Spice Shop if you’re looking for a wonderful array of spices or go to Ginger and Baker if you’re in the mood for pie.

7. Watch a Game

Things to do in Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Football GameFort Collins is home to the Colorado State University Rams. The beautiful campus sits in the heart of Fort Collins and is open for tours year round. Beyond being a top-end academic institution, the University is also a cornerstone of the Fort Collins community. CSU also has great athletics programs including football, basketball, volleyball, and many more.

The new crown jewel of the CSU campus is the on-campus stadium. It is a state-of-the-art multipurpose stadium and is the home of the Football team. Catching a game there is a must if you are in Fort Collins during college football season. Sports fans can also attend a volleyball or basketball game at Moby Arena.

8. Play Golf

Things to do in Fort Collins, CO: Winter Golf at CollindaleBelieve it or not, you can play golf in Fort Collins all year. As long as there is no snow on the ground, the City courses are open. The off-season is great for golf because the courses tend to be less busy and the price is cheaper.

There are four municipal golf courses in Fort Collins, two 18-hole, and two 9-hole courses. The courses are well-kept and feature old growth cottonwood trees, narrow fairways, and some fun hole layouts. There is also a multitude of other municipal courses within an hour in neighboring towns as well.

Fort Collins is also home to several private courses including the Fort Collins Country Club and Ptarmigan Country Club. Unfortunately, this author has not been lucky enough to play any of them…yet.

9. Go Shopping

Things to do in Fort Collins: Shopping in Old TownFort Collins is not a well-known shopping destination, yet it has a surprising amount of unique and fun stores. Old Town is home to a large variety of retailers. Clothing boutiques, home goods, souvenirs, antiques, artisan foods are all widely available. Shoppers are able to park their vehicle and walk around the square and surrounding area to the many shops.

If you are looking for more brand name stores, Fort Collins has those as well. The newly rebuilt Foothills Mall is located in mid-town Fort Collins. The mall is home to many high-end retailers and brand name stores. The mall’s beautiful expanse is also a great place to find a great restaurant or find something to do with the kids. They have a skating rink in the winter time, a movie theater and more. The southern end of the city, along Harmony Road, offers an array of fine retail locations at the Front Range Village. This 100-acre property is home to big-name retailers and other local hotspots.

10. Explore Art & Museums

Things to do in Fort Collins: Fort Collins Museum of DiscoveryIf you would like to spend a day doing something entertaining and educational, Fort Collins has several museums and lots of art galleries to offer. The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a family-friendly, hands-on, science and history museum. The museum regularly features interactive exhibits that encourage learning, reflection, and fun. There are exhibits specifically designed for kids to interact, exhibits that feature the natural history of our area, and much more. The museum also features the OtterBox Digital Dome Theatre, a 35-foot diameter dome screen. The dome is both a planetarium and a theatre offering daily events.

The Fort Collins Museum of Art is another great place to visit. The museum’s mission is to spread the power of visual art. They host multiple visual art exhibits and events throughout the year. Other interesting museums and art galleries in Fort Collins include Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum, The Center for Fine Art Photography, Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising, the Global Village Museum of Arts and Culture and more.

Go Rafting with Mountain Whitewater in 2018 | TripAdvisor Reviews

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by Ben Costello, February 2018

2018 is going to be a great year to go rafting on the Cache La Poudre River with Mountain Whitewater. Don’t take our word for it, check out our great, independent reviews on tripadvisor. We think we are the best company on the Poudre River and so do 1,100+ others who posted Moutain Whitewater reviews on trip advisor after rafting with us.

Best trip Ever!!!

This was such an amazing experience!!! I highly recommend this company. It is completely evident they love what they do! They offer wetsuits, fleece, splash guards, gloves and booties to keep you warm! The guides are so fabulous! They are knowledgeable, fun and funny! Ben was awesome and even though I was nervous, he put me at ease. I was so impressed with the precision of the entire company. These people know what they are doing. They have safety boaters to be prepared for anyone who may end up in the river, rope throwers who are following on rivers edge. Photographers capturing the adventure! They have thought of everything!!! They are prepared for everything, so you can truly take in the epic experience of being on the great Cache la Poudre River! We had such a blast!!!

– Brandi B. from Fort Collins on 5/30/17

Mountain Whitewater Reviews from trip advisor | Big Water in May

Book this trip!

We did the half day Poudre Plunge about 10 days ago. From the minute we arrived, I was impressed with this business. Extremely friendly staff, everyone went out of their way to make this a great day for all of us. The rafting was incredible! The water was high and fast, so we had the time of our life!! Our guide, Jed, was the best. He was encouraging, extremely knowledgeable and ensured we all had fun.
The most impressive thing about Mountain Whitewater Descents is their concern for customer safety. Mandatory wetsuits, an extra guide in a kayak and the bus driver on shore with safety ropes are a few of the extra precautions these guys take.
GO for the fun… book with them for the SAFETY.

– Buzz48 from Illinois on 6/11/17

Mountain Whitewater Reviews on tripadvisor | Great Rafting in June

AMAZING TIME WITH MOUNTIAN (sic) WHITEWATER DESCENTS

Six months ago when my family was planning our annual trip to Estes Park my father and sister asked if I was interested in Whitewater rafting and recommended MWD. They have been rafting multiple times with MWD and have had great experiences. We did the 12:15 Plunge trip on July 20th. From the moment we parked, we were greeted by a crew member cleaning gear and directed us in the right direction. We had already filled out waivers online which was a HUGE convince and were greeted/checked in with ease. Tracey came over and asked if we needed anything while we waited for the other groups to check in. She was extremely nice and set the mood for what was to be an EPIC day. Having worked as a Scuba instructor and ocean guide I know how safety briefings can either pull guest in more or bore them to where the information doesn’t soak in. Tracey guided us through the ins and outs of our trip and communitcated (sic) in a very relatable and clear way. It was not only informative but got me wicked stoaked (sic) to hit the water. After getting our gear (which was clean and dry) we loaded up on the bus to head to the water. On the bus Ian sat next to me and we had a blast exchanging adventure stories from our past. The process from checking in to actually getting in the raft was very organized and the whole crew demonstrated professinalism (sic) and a great deal of enthuasiam (sic) which seemed to help rally the not so sure members of in the group. We met Josh who was to be our guide down the river. He was a blast from the start. He asked our group if we were up for some fun (taking more challenging routes) which all of us in the group were stoaked (sic) for. Once under way Josh tweaked a few small things here and there and got us all paddeling (sic) together and laughinng (sic) in no time. I have surfed, skied, snow boarded, and paddle boarded all over the world so my bar for adventure is set pretty high. I’ll just say that with Josh as our guide I was hooked after the first set of rapids. I also really enjoyed the slower moments when he played tour guide and told us about interesting land marks and nature stuff. Throughout the trip (sic) the laughs and excitement continued. Something I really enjoyed is seeing how the guides teased each other and had a good time along with the guest. It builds confidence in guest (sic) when they see the person guiding them through class 4 rapids is comfortable and having good time as well. The one time people from another raft “took a swim” Josh and the other guides immediately got the guest back onto rafts and kept control of the situation in a very calm manner. After our legendary trip down the Poudre we all loaded up on the bus for the short ride back. We were given clear direction on where to put our gear and how to see our photos and invited to check out the Pub for a refreshing beverage. The whole crew joined us in the Pub where we got to mingle and talk story. I pretty much decided that MWD is the next company I want to work for after talking to Tracey and Josh. My overall experiance (sic) outstanding and I took all the fliers I could to put in our family cabin we sometimes rent out. I would recommend this company to anyone wanting to have a safe, amazing, whitewater rafting experiance (sic). I will be back for sure the next opportunity I get.

– Jeremy H. from Kansas City on 7/21/17

Mountain Whitewater reviews on trip advisor | Having Fun Rafting in July

DON’T MISS THIS EXPERIENCE.

This was my families FAVORITE thing we did on vacation. A year before we went on another rafting trip, but this was a far better experience. We will return again and again on future vacations. The staff is EXCEPTIONAL!!! You won’t be disappointed with any guide you are assigned. What a special group of people. Great place to hang out after the rafting trip. The family memories we created that day will stay with us a lifetime.
This is a very well run business. You can tell they care about your experience. You can tell the staff treat each other like family and welcome others in. Every interaction from checking in, getting our gear, rafting, the ride back, the owner, the bartender, our personal guide (special shout out to Nate) well exceeded any expectation I had for the day.
You don’t want to miss this opportunity. They are uniquely special people.

– Tammy L. from San Diego on 8/8/2017

Mountain Whitewater Reviews on tripadvisor | Having Fun in August

Poudre Canyon Name History

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by Ben Costello, January 2018

While doing some cleaning, I came across an old document and thought the information might be interesting to post. The information in the document was compiled by Stanley R. Case in June of 1992 for the Arapaho/Roosevelt National Forest folks. It outlines the name history of many sites in the Cache La Poudre River canyon. It reads as follows, enjoy!

ARROWHEAD LODGE
Named by C. Marion Brofford for a point across the Cache La Poudre River to the south which was once referred to as Arrowhead Point by early settlers.

ANSEL WATROUS CAMPGROUND
A cooperative agreement in 1918 between the city of Fort Collins and Roosevelt National Forest led to the creation of a mountain park in Poudre Canyon named for Ansel Watrous, the author of “Larimer County History- 1911”.

BALDWIN TUNNEL
This tunnel was holed through in the fall of 1916 and prior to this the road ended at Thompson’s Resort (Mishawaka). Travel to the upper reaches of the Poudre River was over Pingree Hill to Rustic.

BARNES MEADOW/RESERVOIR
Abraham LeFever, cattleman and homesteader of Indian Meadow Ranch, named this fro a relative, David Barnes. The reservoir was built in 1929 by the Mountain Plains Irrigation Company for July and August irrigation water for the Fort Collins-Greeley area.

BELLAIRE LAKE
In the 1880’s Jocelyn Bellairs homesteaded on South Lone Pine Creek, and in 1890 Malcolm Bellairs operated a ranch in the Weast Lake Area. The transfer of “e” for “s” was a typing error.

BENNETT CREEK
I.W. and E.J. Bennett were early sheepmen, ranchers, and community leaders in the Livermore area beginning in the late 1870’s.

BLUE LAKE
This Lake is located in the south end of the Rawahs, and was presumably named because of its color. The trailhead originally started on the west side of Chambers Lake, but is now located opposite the entrance of the Long Draw Reservoir Road.

BROWNS PARK and BROWNS PARK CAMPGROUND
During the mid 1920’s three boys, members of the Brown family, spent several winters camped while trapping in the beautiful little park on Jinks Creek. They did not build a cabin, and no further information is available as to their next destination.

CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER
Several events attempt to qualify as the historical basis for this river’s name. One concerns Major Stephen H. Long’s encampment on July 3, 1820 along the South Platte River near the entering points of three streams. Another in 1835 on July 18, was recorded during Colonel Henry Dodge’s march with a battalion of dragoons over Long’s same trail. As they rounded the great bend of the South Platte, they passed the mouth of the first stream and recorded it as the Cache de la Poudre. The guide was Captain John Gantt, a former army officer turned leader of free trappers who knew the country and called it by the mane. It’s meaning is “hide the powder”. Ansel Watrous recorded the date of the naming as 1836, but his date is disputed by Colonel Dodge’s record.

Several accounts related a trapper party carrying supplies to a rendezvous on the Green River in Wyoming getting caught in a snowstorm which forced them to bury (cache) supplies until they could return and retrieve them. There is also a story that William H. Ashley made a cache while trading in the area with the intention of retrieving the items when they resumed their journey to a rendezvous. The cache may have been left and dug up by the father of Antoine Janis mentioned by Watrous.

The date of the naming is not known, but trappers hid valuables by digging a small hole in the ground and then scooping out a chamber for storage. The hole was carefully filled in and concealed by replacing sod, disposing of excess dirt and tramping it down or even building a fire over it to hide it. The mane Cache la Poudre is probably a contracted form of “cachez la poudre” meaning “hide the powder”.

CAMERON PASS
Major General Robert A. Cameron, in the service of the Union from 1861 – 1865, and organizer of the Fort Collins, Colorado Agriculture Colony in 1872, was an important factor in the settlement of the Cache La Poudre Valley. On a trip to Chambers Lake, he and Dr. Lows discovered the pass through the Medicine Bow Mountains in North Park. Later the pass was named by the Union Pacific Engineering Department in memory of General Cameron.

CAMP LAKES
In the early days of settlement, a ditch was built to take water from these two lakes found in the Rawahs to the Skyline Ditch and to the Cache La Poudre River. Near the lakes a camp was erected for the ditch workers. Nothing today remains of the old cabins of this camp for which the lakes were named.

CASH MINE
This mine was originally called the Elkhorn Mine, which was located by John Zimmerman and his brother Mike in 1881. Mr. Zimmerman sold the mine to a brother-in-law in St. Louis who was with the Cash Mining Company. The old mine is located on the mountain across the road and to the east of the Poudre Canyon Chapel. It was later worked by a “hard-rock” miner named Roy O Conner and called the Cash Mine or O Conner Mine. After Mr. O Conner’s death, Ed Cox and Andie Longston filed on the claim and named it the Cash and Carry Mine. The claim was never patented, however, new claims have been registered in 1989 and 1990.

CHAMBERS LAKE
In 1858 Robert Chambers and his son, Robert Jr., set up a rapping camp near the lake. During an absence by his son, Indians attacked and killed the elder Chambers. Later in 1867 while the Union Pacific railroad was working on its route west of Cheyenne, Robert Jr. told a tie contractor about the plentiful timber on the upper Poudre River. A tie as established by the lake and the workers named the lake in honor of the slain trapper. A small dam was built at the lake to raise the water level under the first water decree in 1887. The first dam washed out on June 9, 1891, and has been rebuilt twice since. The lake is now partially owned and operated by Water Supply and Storage Company.

CLARK PEAK
The highest mountain in the Chambers Lake region takes its name from William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It’s Native American name was Elk Horn. Originally the peak was called Cameron for nearby Cameron Pass.

COLUMBINE
The prevalence of these flowers gave this settlement its name.

CRATER LAKE
This lake is one of twin lakes feeding a small tributary of the West Branch of the Laramie River. It was named by Red Vernon, a guide in the Rawahs, because to him it looked like a crater had formed in the high peaks.

CROWN POINT
Crown Point was a mining claim, but the origin of the name is unknown.

DADD GULCH
Named for an elderly Afro-American known as “Dad” who had a cabin in the gulch. The second “d” in the name is unaccounted for.

DUTCH GEORGE FLATS
The area at the junction of Elkhorn Creek with the Poudre River was once inhabited by an old trapper/hunter named George Neare, known as “Dutch”. He protected his hunting preserve, Elkhorn Creek Canyon, with a passion. Legend says his own loaded riffle fell down and shot him as he skinned a bear. Another legend says he was killed by a bear on this site in the late 1800’s. A still-growing apple tree marks the site of his cabin.

EGGERS
The summer post office, resort, and bridge was named for the Fred Eggers family, the original settlers of the site.

EGGERS SCHOOL
Originally located on the hill behind Eggers Post OFfice for which it was named, this school was a WPA project with construction in the early spring and summer of 1934. Logs were cut and hauled from the Chambers Lake area and layed up by WPA workers along with local residents. The school opened that fall and closed after the completion of the Poudre Canyon School in 1959. The old log school has been moved to a location just east of the Poudre Canyon School and may be converted into a museum.

FOR COLLINS MOUNTAIN PARK
A USFS campground taking its name from the city of Fort Collins.

GLENN ECHO (RESORT)
The land was purchased from Norman Fry by a Mr. Cooke, who built the first camp in 1920. It consisted of a small store, and across the road at the present Glen Echo site, several tent frames with wooden floors. The name comes from a spot just west of the site where one can hear voice echoes from across the canyon.

GLENDEVEY
Old Glendevey (accent on the last syllable) was originally named after Thomas H. Dovey who owned a ranch in the glen. It once served as a Post Office.

HOHNHOLTZ LAKE
The lakes were named after the E. and E. Honholz family because of their extensive holdings in the Slugh (?) and Grace Creek area in the Laramie River Valley. Their US land patents went back to 1904 and 1916-17.

HOME
The Home Post Office was first located in a small cabin at the Kinikinik Ranch with John R. Brown as postmaster. Brown had been a blacksmith for Old Camp Collins. About 1880 Brown applied for a post office under the name of “Mountain Home” but was told that there were too many Mountain Homes in the United States, so the name was shortened to Home. In 1896 after John Zimmerman built the Keystone Hotel, he was appointed postmaster of Home and the post office.

HOME MORAINE
This terminal moraine was the result of an episode of glaciation. The name was taken from the Home Post Office.

HOME MORAINE TRAILER PARK
Located in the general area of the Zimmerman Hotel and livery stables, it takes its name from the Home Moraine.

HOURGLASS RESERVOIR
Originally called the Big Beaver, this reservoir located up the Little South River is now named for its shape.

HULEATT (Hewlett’s) GULCH
Horace Huleatt settled in the gulch which bears his name, but not its spelling, in the late 1870’s. it is reported that an old Ute Trial followed the gulch, located nor of Columbine (Poudre) Park. Huleatt eventually moved on to California, and left a stone cabin in the gulch.

INDIAN MEADOWS
Early Euro-Americans coming into this area located on the Poudre River found Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Indians camping, hinting, and fishing in the area.

INDIAN MEADOWS RESORT/STORE
Probably named for the meadow, but may have been a requirement when Guy Slenecker purchased the business rights from the Indian Meadows Corporation in 1925. he built and operated the camp until 1934 when the operation was taken over by Archie and Neva Langston. Neva is the daughter of Guy. It is not known when the name was changed to Indian Meadows Resort.

ISLAND LAKE
Found in the Rawahs, this lake was named by the Sholine family due to the jagged rock island that stands in the middle of the lake.

JOE WRIGHT CREEK
The creek that feeds Chambers Lake from the south was named for a beaver trapper that spent a winter collecting pelts along the stream in the 1800’s.

JOE WRIGHT RESERVOIR
The reservoir takes its name from the Creek. It was built in 1904 by foreman John McNabb and engineer William Rist working for a Mr. F.C. Crable. This was a part of the Michigan River Ditch system, and later purchased from them by the North Poudre Irrigation Company, now owned by the City of Fort Collins. Fort Collins has recently built a new dam to increase the reservoir capacity.

KELLY FLATS
A tie cutter named Jim Kelly, and a man named Jack Dunn, built a cabin on these flats.

KELLY FLATS CAMPGROUND
A USFS campground that took the name of the flats upon which it was constructed.

KINIKINIK
Named by Charles B. Andrews because of the abundance of the evergreen plant growing in the area. There is no explanation for the incorrect spelling on maps. The plant name is spelled kinnikinnick. Andrews was a prominent cattleman who invested in land on the Poudre River in the 1880’s to raise Shetland ponies and cattle for the eastern market. The cabin that housed the first Home Post Office was located on his land.

Over the years the ranch was called Shady Lane Ranch. The Shetland Ranch, the Cup Williams Ranch, and since the purchase by Clarance Bliss in 1941, the name Kinikinik has prevailed.

LAKE LOUISE (Bench)
This lake was named for Louise Sholine (Mrs. F.W. McWilliams), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Sholine, earliest ranch owners on the West Branch of the upper Laramie River. Today it is shown as Bench Lake on USFS maps.

LARAMIE RIVER
Jacques LaRamee (LaRamie), a French Canadian in the employment of the Northwest Fur Company came into the upper headwaters of the Missouri about 1819. In 1820, h with several other trappers trapped on the headwaters of the North Platte. Later that same year, LaRamee against the advice of the fellow trappers, decided to trap the Laramie River and its tributaries. The area was a battleground among several tribes of Native Americans, but LaRamee believed he would be safe because he was on friendly terms with most of the tribes. At the next rendezvous, LaRamee was missing. His friends organized a party to hunt for the trapper and in a few days found his cabin. Unfortunately, there are no confirmed reports that they located his body, but they did call the river Laramie’s River later shortened to Laramie River. his name with the different spelling has been given to several locations in the region.

LARAMIE-POUDRE TUNNEL
The tunnel connects the two rivers and transfers water from the Laramie River to the Poudre River. The plans were drawn up in 1907 and the tunnel completed in the fall.

LINK LAKES
This chain of lakes, located in the Rawah area on the eastern side of the Medicine Bow Mountains, was discovered by Willis A. Link in 1901.

LIVERMORE
Livermore is derived from a combination of the names of Adolphus Livernash and Stephen Moore, two of the area’s earliest permanent settlers. The name has been used for stage stops, a hotel, store, post office, school, and livery stable in the area over the years.

LOG CABIN
A name given to the hotel and post office built and operated by Mrs. Elizabeth St. Clair. Mrs. St. Clair originally homesteaded 320 acres on the site. It became an official U.S. Post Office in 1903. The original building caught fire and burned in November of 1931 but the post office was continued until 1941 when it was closed. Nothing remains on the site now except a historical marker that was dedicated August 6, 1983. The location is at the intersection of the Livermore and Red Feather Lakes Road and the Elkhorn Road to the Poudre River.

LONG DRAW RESERVOIR
The reservoir is located in Long Draw, above the northwest corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. The draw was named by early tie cutters that set up camp in the draw and maned it for its length, which ran from the top of Poudre Pass to the Big South of the Cache la Poudre River. The reservoir was built by Water Supply and Storage Company in 1931 to regulate water diverted from the Grand River Ditch.

The dam as recently expanded for additional storage, and at that time the company was required to include campground and picnic facilities to USPS specification, and a holding pond for fish. The agreement included turning the facilities over to the Roosevelt National Forest.

LULU CITY
Founded and platted by Benjamin Burnett in 1879 along the upper reaches of the Colorado River, then called the Grand River, this once bustling, but short-lived gold boom town lasted, but four years. Burnett named the site after one of his daughters, and his log building was the first constructed in the town, becoming the area store. For Several years the site grew and housed many miners and prospectors, but the gold ore was of such low quality the town was soon abandoned.

The decaying buildings were later removed after the establishment of Rocky Mountain National Park in 1915 and included the area within its boundaries. A historical marker has been placed at the site along the hiking trail int to the area.

LULU PASS
The old haul-road to Lulu City included the Log Cabin to Manhattan road west through the Bald Mountains and then followed what is now known as the Green Ridge Trail to Chambers Lake. The route then went on to Cameron Pass and the Michigan River, up past American Lake to Lulu Pass (now called Thunder Pass) at Thunder Mountain (named by local Indians) and then dropped into the Grand River Valley. The first freighting teams consisted of sex large mules to pull the heavy wagons.

McINTIRE LAKES
This small chain of lakes is located at the head of one of the branches of McIntyre Creek in the north end of the Rawah Mountains. The lakes were named for Norman c. Mcintyre. McIntyre acquired land in the Laramie River Valley in the Early 1900’s for the promotion of lakes and reservoirs.

MANHATTAN
Established as a gold mining town on Elkhorn Creek in 1886, the site is located north of the town of Rustic. Two theories exist as to the origin of the name. The first story has a man called Cap Hattan establishing the camp. The miners spoke of him as “that man Hattan” and the newcomers began calling the camp Manhattan. The second theory involves homesick miner naming it for Manhattan Borough, New York. Whatever the origin, it was surveyed for a town and named by John Deaver and the Du Bois brothers.

By 1901, the buildings were being moved away and little was left in 1905 when the school was moved one quarter mile east of Goodell Corner.

MISHAWAKA/THOMPSON’S MISHAWAKA RESORT
This was homesteaded, but not known by whom; perhaps it was Walter Thompson. The meaning of Mishawaka is unknown.

MITCHELL LAKE
Prior to 1923, the Redfeather Lakes were called the Mitchell Lakes for Jack Mitchell. Mitchell developed irrigation ditches in the area in October, 1888.

MONTGOMERY PASS (TRAIL)
The trail starts west of Joe Wright Reservoir, across Highway 14, and was named for an early day miner. The remains of several mine shafts and cabins, some of which were Montgomery’s, can be found at tree limit along this trail.

MUMMY MOUNTAIN
Part of the Mummy Range in Rocky Mountain National Park, the mountains resemble an Egyptian mummy lying on its back as viewed from the Pingree Park Road and the Estes Park area. The head of the “mummy” points southeast.

MUMMY RANGE
The chain of mountains that includes Chapin, Chiquita, Ypsilon, Fairchild, Mummy, Hague, Rowe, Dunraven, and Dickerson were called the White Owls by the Native Americans, who may have found the snowy owl or the great horned owl, which can look very pale, in the vicinity of the mountains.

NEOTA CREEK, NEOTA MOUNTAIN
Neota was the mane of an Arapaho Indian girl who was captured by a Ute Chief. A young warrior of her own tribe later rescued her.

OLD FLOWERS ROAD
In 1894-1895, Jacob Flowers built a trail from Hourglass Reservoir to Walden. A second trail was built from Buckhorn Creek to Cameron Pass and Michigan Creek, and then to Lulu City. It was a poorly built trail and took considerable effort to negotiate. Jacob Flowers was offered on thousand dollars by the state and the county if he could manage to haul a load of oats in a two-wheeled cart over the trail. He accomplished the mission and was paid. In 1938 the Flowers Gulch flood washed his cabin out.

OLD MAN’S FACE
This rock feature was named by “old-timers” because it formed a perfect profile of a man’s face looking from either direction. Found just east of the Arrowhead Lodge, early postcards list this as the “Old Man’s Face” by the Forest Service in later years changed its designation to “Profile Rock”.

OLD POUDRE CITY
Located west of Rustic on the south side of the Poudre River, the site was named for the mining settlement where John and Mike Zimmerman built and started a stamp mill in 1890. On June 9, 1891, a flood caused by a break in the Chambers Lake Dam destroyed everything on the site except on cabin and the old chimney of the stamp mill. It was reported in later years by Stella Christianson, the then three-year-old daughter of John McNabb, that John Zimmerman rode his horse to death galloping a warning to the residents of Poudre City. Because of that warning, local residents made it safely to higher ground. Supposedly, thirteen families lived in Poudre City at the time.

The stamp mill chimney has been painted and repaired, and a historical marker approved by the State Historical Society has been placed on the chimney. A trail leads to the site fro the Poudre Canyon Chapel parking lot. Besides the chapel, the Poudre Canyon School and the old Eggers Log School are also on the site. The school was moved up form its Eggers site to be used as a museum.

OWL CANYON
This area was settled in 1875 by Miss Sarah Ayres and family. Located south of Livermore and east of Highway 287, the canyon was named by the Ayres for the numerous owls that lived in the area.

PARVIN LAKE
The reservoir was named for a Colorado Game & Fish Commissioner, R.E. (Rolly) Parvin. Ther Reservoir is located next to the Red Feather Lakes.

PENNOCK CREEK PASS
Charles E. Pennock planned a road over the mountains to Walden, but ran out of money before the project could be completed. The stream and Pennock Pass along the Buckhorn road were named for him.

PETERSON CREEK
peterson Creek comes down a mountain and into the Cache la Poudre River on the north side of the road between the State Fish Hatchery and Kinikinik. It was named for Henry C. Peterson who homesteaded the area in 1882.

PINGREE HILL
George W. Pingree spent winters in the late 1860’s in the upper reaches of the Poudre trapping beavers and hunting wild game. He built a camp at what is now Rustic and built the first trail up the gulch north of Rustic over which he packed his supplies, game, and furs. He went to work for Issac Coe and Levi Carter of Nebraska, the contractors for the UPRR.In 1970 he built a narrow gauge 3 foot road down the Pingree trail and up the Canyon to Cameron Pass. The cutters and haulers helped in the widening of his trail and gave it his name.

PINGREE PARK
George Pingree located trees for ties at the headwaters of the Little South Fork of the Poudre River and this park area was named for him.

POUDRE CITY
The name given to the area where the Zimmerman Brothers erected a five stamp mill following 1887 gold finds along the Poudre above Rustic. When Bob and Margaret Lewis started their resort and subdivision at the old U bar U Ranch. They chose this name over the objections of many old timers who felt that this would add confusion about the old historical site which now has been called “Old Poudre City”. The name of Poudre City Resort has now been changed by new owners to Mountain Greenery, but the subdivision which is located 1 1/4 miles east of Old Poudre City still retains the name of Poudre City.

POUDRE PARK
Named for the river.

POUDRE PASS
Separated the Colorado River and Poudre River watersheds and is located on the Continental Divide south of Long Draw Reservoir. This was originally known as Mountain Meadow Pass.

PROFILE ROCK
(See Old Mans Face)

RAWAH
The name given to a peak, a wild area, and several lakes. It was the name given the area east of the Medicine Bow Mountains of northern Colorado by the Ute Indians long before the coming of the white man. It means “wilderness”.

RED FEATHER
The lakes making up /red Feather were developed by Jake Mitchell and know as Mitchell Lakes until later changed. Prior to that they were referred to as West Lake.

In 1923 Princes Chinena, a professional singer from the Cherokee Indian Nation, came to the area for a promotional celebration. Her costume included a red feather which she wore in her hair denoting the meaning of her name. The community took the name ager her visit. Red Feather Lakes Days celebrated on the 4th of July week-end usually includes the choosing and crowing of Princess Red Feather.

A second story states that Red Feather Lakes was named for Chief Red Feather, hero of an American Indian legend, by a Mr. Princell who funded the resort in the summer of 1923.

In a dream, the young Red Feather saw the Great Spirit who revealed the location of a fishing and hinting paradise toward the north start. Red Feather found the place, claimed it for the Cherokees and was made a chief.

RIST CANYON
Augustine Mason bought the Rist Canyon road from Joe Rist in 1866 for $75. Joseph Mason owned the bridge over the Poudre River in Pleasant Valley at the time. The two men found the bridge and road too expensive to maintain and turned them over to the county.

ROCK HOLE LAKE
A small lake in the Rawahs that is located in solid rock was named by Red Vernon, an early guide in the Rawah area.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Established in 1915 through the efforts of local conservationist Enos Mills, it was named for the Rocky Mountains.

ROOSEVELT NATIONAL FOREST
In 1891, the Forest Reserve Act was passed, enabling the President to establish reserves on national lands. A petition filed by the Colorado State Forestry Association resulted in the formation of the Medicine Bow National Forest Preserve in 1902, and included lands in Wyoming and Colorado. The Colorado portion became the Colorado National Forest in 1910 and was named for President Theodore Roosevelt in 1932. The headquarters were first located in Wyoming, then moved to Estes Park Colorado, and finally to Fort Collins in 1908 when given space in the post office building in 1911.

RUSTIC
Samuel B. Stewart, foreman of the “tie boys” homesteaded the area and in 1891, built the Rustic Hotel. The origin of the mane is unknown, but was possibly named for the type of accommodations. The hotel had its ups and downs and was demolished.

SAWTOOTH/MOUNT RICHTHOFEN/NOKHU CRAGS
Early postcards list this area as Sawtooth. Ansel Watrous’ Larimer Country History – 1911 shows a picture labeled as Sawtooth. Some maps show it as Mount Richthofen. Other maps show Nokhu Crags, supposedly named by the Indians. The meaning is unknown. Some believe Nokhu to mean “seven Utes”, but Seven Utes is the name also given to the peaks surrounding the next basin to the west, and closer to the 7 Utes Lodge. The basin is also the site of the proposed 7 Utes Ski Area.

SEVEN MILE CREEK
The stream that is seven miles long empties into the Poudre River at Rustic.

SHIPMAN PARK
Old man Shipman fished, trapped and comped for many years in the park that bears his name. At the beginning of World War I he disappeared. He never claimed a homestead, but the remains of the Shipman Babin are still visible. The area was later added to the Rawah Wilderness. The old state road over the Pass going to North Park passed through Shipman Park and was Sometimes used by Jeeps, but of course was discontinued after inclusion in the Wilderness area.

SINAL MOUNTAIN
The Signals and the ridge that runs between them was called Wolf Ridge by the Arapahos. Early settlers thought they saw smoke signals coming from the peaks, but the Arapahos could not remember using the peaks for signaling.

SLEEPING ELEPHANT
A rock formation taht resembles a sleeping elephant.

SLEEPING ELEPHANT CAMPGROUND
Named by USFS for the nearby rock formation.

SPENCER HEIGHTS
Named for a man named Spencer who homesteaded the first ranch at that location. Lyle (son of Guy Slonecker, of Indian Meadows) and Helen L. Slonecker purchased rights from Dr. Harmer and Lew Stimpson in the Greeley Colony and built the Resort in 1928, operating it until 1936 when they traded it to Harry Garlick. Garlick later sold the resort to Mr. and Mrs. Guy Kirk.

SPORTMAN (SPORTSMANS LODGE)
The lodge was originally named Gladstones by its builder Bryce Gladstone in 1931. When Bill and Clara Schorman purchased the property in 1946 the changed the name to Sportsmans – probably for the many game and fish trophies used to decorate the place. Later owners, the McIsaacs, added the word lodge.

STOVE PRAIRIE
Supposedly a campers old stave was found near the present school. The school district was organized in 1893 and a school house was built in 1894.

STUB CREEK
A very short creek that may have been called Stub by early visitors, but there is no verification.

STUB CREEK WORK CENTER
A USFS facility in the Laramie River Valley named for the creek. It formally was called the Stub Creek Ranger Station.

TED’S PLACE
E.I. (Ted) Herring and his brother came and built a store and station at the intersection of US 287 and Colorado 14 in the early 1920’s which they called the Poudre Canyon Dilling Station. Their grand opening was held on May 25, 192. It wasn’t long before everyone was calling the store Ted’s Place and the name stuck. Ted served many terms as a Larimer County Representative and Senator in the Colorado Legislature. He died in 1963 and his wife Nellie in 1976. Conoco demolished Ted’s Place in 1989.

TELLER CITY
Established in 1879, the mining town was named for Henry M. Teller who for 10 years served in the U.S. Senate representing the State of Colorado. Several early accounts listed the area rich in silver and the population soon reached 400 and peaked in 1882 at 1300.Teller started to collapse in 1883 and was nearly deserted by 1885, with only three or four individuals that would not acknowledge defeat. The post office was abandoned in 1886. “North Park History” by Haxel Greshman lists all of the businesses, people, and professions that were at Teller City.

THUNDER PASS
See Lulu Pass

TRADING POST
Built by “Tex” Extrom in 1938 and 1939, he named it Tex’s Place. When Melvin and Jaclyn Peterson purchased the property they changed the name to the Trading Post. All owners since have stuck with the name for the resort located about 9 1/2 miles west of Arrowhead.

TOM BENNETT CAMPGROUND
In the 1920’s Tom Bennett built a resort and campground on his ranch near the Little South Fork of the Poudre River. He is not connected with the earlier settler for whom Bennett Creek is named. Ther campground is now the property of USFS.

TUNNEL CAMPGROUND
The west portal of the Laramie – Poudre Tunnel is located near this USFS campground.

WASHOUT GULCH
This gulch comes in from the north two miles above Arrowhead.

WINTERSTEEN PARK
reached by Jeep Road going east from the top of Pingree Hill, and named for L.L. Wintersteen, a local rancher. He was postmaster at Manhattan in 1894.

YAUGER RANCH/YAUGER RESORT
Operated by Alvi Yauger.

ZIMMERMAN LAKE – TRAIL
John Zimmerman first settled in the Poudre area near the fenced enclosure just south of the trailhead parking lot. It is a one mile hike to the lake.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Cache la Poudre – the river as seen from 1898, Norman W. Fry
Fort Collins yesterdays, Evadene Burris Swanson
History of Larimer County – 1911, Ansel Watrous
History of Larimer County – 1985
Larimer County place names, Etholine Aycock and Mary Hagen, 1984
Larimer County Stock Growers Association – 1884-1956

Ski the Snow of the Poudre River Basin

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by Ben Costello, March 2017

Anyone who has spent time at Mountain Whitewater and Paddler’s Pub may have noticed the motto for Paddler’s Pub: “Ski the Snow, Raft the Rivers, then Turn that Water into Beer!” It is our fun way of looking at the hydrologic cycle here in Colorado. Mountain Whitewater fits into the “Raft the Rivers” part of the motto. Paddler’s Pub facilitates the “Water into Beer” part of the motto, but what about the “Ski the Snow” part? The guide staff at Mountain Whitewater spends time during the winter season skiing and snowboarding the mountains in the Poudre River basin.
Poudre River Basin Map courtesy of the U.S. Geologic Survey

Where is the Cache La Poudre River Basin?


Located in North Central Colorado, the Cache La Poudre River basin is part of the larger South Platte River basin. It includes mountains near Cameron Pass on Highway 14 and parts of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Overall, there are around 484 square miles of land that drain into the Poudre River basin.

The vast majority of the water that flows through the Cache La Poudre River comes from snow that melts in the basin. So, the folks that raft with Mountain Whitewater every summer, are floating on the same snow that the guides ski during the winter time. This map, courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey shows where the Poudre River basin is within the State.

Skiing in the Poudre Canyon


Ski tracks on the South Diamond PeakThe Poudre Canyon area provides some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Fort Collins area. There are a multitude of different trails and peaks suitable for backcountry skiing in the basin that provide for an even greater connection to the river for the guides.

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding provide a great way to have fun, enjoy being in nature and to say in shape for rafting season. It also allows for the guides to have a better picture of how much snow is in the mountains. Understanding that it is an indicator of the water we will get to raft in the spring. What can I say, we just cannot get enough of our beautiful Cache La Poudre River water!

Click here for a video of Guides skiing the South Diamond

Ben skins up to the South Diamond
Guides skiing in the Poudre Canyon
Mountain Whitewater guides on the skin track into the Seven Utes area

Great view atop the Poudre River drainageView from the bottom of the South Diamond

Photo and information credit to USGS from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3037/

Rafting the Gauley River in West Virginia | Guides on Vacation

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by Ben Costello, February 2017
Rafting the Gauley River: Mountain Whitewater Crew Buried in the Hole at Pillow Rock
Rafting the Gauley River in West Virginia is possibly the most iconic river trip east of the Mississippi River. The river boasts big, forgiving Class V rapids set in an old, lush river gorge. This quintessential river is also the site of American Whitewater’s largest annual fundraiser called Gauley Fest. American Whitewater is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to funding river stewardship projects around the country. The festival draws rafters, kayakers and other river rats from all over the country to come together for several days of paddling whitewater and celebrating all that is river culture.

Travel and Camp

Rafting the Gauley River: Summersville Lake Near the Gauley RiverGauley Fest has become an annual event for our whitewater addicted crew at Mountain Whitewater. The number of guides, friends and family participating has grown each of the last four years. A group of around 30 Mountain Whitewater folks traveled 1,494 miles from Fort Collins, CO to Summersville, WV to participate in the festivities in September of 2016. Our group made the 24 hour drive going straight through the night. The only major stop during the trip east was in Kansas City for some classic BBQ. The drive east is exhausting. It is taxing even with multiple drivers and rotating 3 to 5 hour shifts. The overnight driving effort is worth it because the drive is over in 24 hours. I was in the second car to arrive at camp early in the morning the day before the festival.

The Battle Run Campground is a nice facility with lots of amenities and it’s only a couple of minutes drive from the Gauley River put-in. The campground was the perfect spot for our large group. Our campsite was set in a nice wooded area at the top of a hill on the shore of Summerville Lake. The lake (actually a reservoir) is the source of the water that flows through the Gauley River. The different cars and trucks filled with the members of our group continued to arrive at the camp through out the morning. We were mostly set-up at camp by noon and we spent the rest of the day swimming and paddle boarding in the lake.

Rafting the Gauley River: Camp Site Setup Early in the Trip
Rafting the Gauley River: Battle Run Campground at Sunset
Rafting the Gauley River: View of Summersville Lake for the Camp Site

How the River Works

The Gauley River rafting season runs from early September to mid October each year. Water is released only four days per week, Friday to Monday. 7am to 1pm on weekdays, 6am to 3pm on weekends. The river festival always occurs on the third week in September. Paddler’s who are there during the festival are lucky to receive an extra hour of release each day that week. All of the river launches through the season and Gauley Fest are planned with this schedule in mind.

The plan for our crew was to be there to raft each day of releases during the week. We would get-up early each day, organize our equipment, run the shuttle and eat breakfast prior to launch. After the shuttle crew returned to camp, we would head down to the put-in. The Gauley River will see thousands of paddlers every day during the six week long rafting season. The week of Gauley Fest is even busier. As such, our crew would have to wait in a long line of vehicles to get to the launch site each morning. The waiting was not too bad though, as the scene in line unfolded to be a party of river guides gathering to celebrate the river. At the put-in we would load the coolers and safety equipment into the rafts, make sure we had enough paddles and launch our trip rafting the Gauley River.

Headwaters of the Gauley River in West VirginiaRafing the Gauley River: Loading the Boats in the Morning

Rafting the Gauley River

Rafting the Gauley River- A Raft Enters Pillow Rock RapidThe Upper Gauley River is a 25 mile stretch of river that is divided into the upper and lower sections. Our crew spent all of our time on the Class IV-V upper section. The 10 mile Upper Gauley consists of steep gradient, large boulders and undercut rocks, technical rapids and high volume water. The Class V rapids on the run include Insignificant, Pillow Rock, Iron Ring, Lost Paddle and Sweet’s Falls. The pool-drop river has plenty of Class III and IV rapids in between the Class V’s as well. The microclimate inside the river gorge boasts fantastic scenery. Thick, green deciduous trees and shrubs dominate the landscape. It looks almost tropical in nature, especially when it rains. A stark contrast to what we see in Colorado.

Our crew would spend half of each day rafting the Gauley River. Everyone would rotate paddling and guiding on different rafts each day. Some would kayak, some would go tandem in a paddle cat while others would ride in paddle rafts. The tradition while rafting the Gauley is to stop after Pillow Rock and Sweet’s Falls to watch others run the rapids. Both spots have large rocks in the river that paddler congregate on to watch the action. It was truly amazing to see how many different river folks were there to paddle and enjoy this unique river. Most of the runs from our group were successful, but we had our share of flips and swims. The water in the river is much warmer than the water in Colorado, so being in the river was refreshing. We were certainly not the only crew spending time in the water. Over and over again, we witnessed other flips, dumptrucks and swims. It is important to remember that the vast majority of the people on the river are experienced guides and paddlers. The amount of experienced river runners allows for a much safer situation. Most swimmers did not spend much time in the water, unless they wanted to. It is quite the scene and tons of fun.

Great View of Sweet's Falls on the Gauley River
Bobby and Justin Paddle on the Gauley River
Spectators Watch the Action at Sweets Falls

Paddle Cat Flips on the Gauley RiverNate Guides a Crew through Pillow Rapid

Gauley Fest

The River itself is what attracts most people to this event, but the festival is also an integral part of the experience. It is a place for all the river rats to gather after an extraordinary day on the river. The festival runs for three nights, each night being a little bigger and better than the previous. Whitewater manufacturers and stores set up vendor tents to sell and display their products. Local food trucks feed the crowd. Bands and DJs entertain. There are opportunities to purchase cheap gear, enter raffles and donate to American Whitewater. It is a great venue for sharing river stories and meeting like minded folks.

Overall, our trip east to raft the Gauley River was a huge success. It provided an unforgettable river experience and time spent with great friends. I can’t wait to go back next year!

Mountain Whitewater Guides at Gauley River Festival 2016

Reasons to Paddle the Poudre River in 2017

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Why we all need to spend more time being active in the outdoors this year.

by Ben Costello, January 2017

Scenic shot of the Poudre River looking upstream from Hewlett GullchOne of the most popular resolutions people set each year is to be more active, or to take it a step further, to be more active in the outdoors. For many of us who live in Colorado, outdoor activity is a lifestyle. One that we either grew-up with or moved here for. Either way, it is hard to imagine life without our favorite outdoor pursuits, so we don’t need reasons to paddle. For others, including many Coloradans, outdoor activities are not a part of life. Many outdoor activities can be intimidating to beginners, can be expensive to get into or are just not accessible due to where you live. Rafting is a great way to get outside and be active because it is beginner friendly, affordable and available to anyone who lives in or visits Colorado.

Here are 6 reasons to paddle the Poudre River this year:

1) Paddling is a healthy way to maintain fitness

  • Paddling is a great cardio exercise and a whole body workout. If you need reasons to paddle, this is a great one. You will use your arms, shoulders, back and abdominals to paddle and your legs and abs to hold yourself into the raft. But don’t worry, there is some down time to rest between rapids.

2) Paddling is a great way to spend time with loved ones

  • Paddle rafting is a team sport. It requires working together and communicating with your friends and family to navigate the river successfully. Plus, phones don’t work in the river, so you get time to enjoy being active without distractions from technology.

3) Paddling helps to overcome the your fears

  • Rushing whitewater and huge splashes to the face are not something most people face regularly. With help from professionally trained river guides, most anyone can conquer class III and IV rapids they would not have otherwise. These experiences of conquering fears by being taken out of our comfort zone can give us the confidence to branch out in other parts of our lives.

4) Paddling is a great way to experience nature

  • Along with being healthy, connecting or re-connecting with our natural environment is a big part of many resolutions. There is no better way to experience flora and fauna and to feel like a part of nature than paddling a river. There is just something about going with the flow of a river that connects us to nature. After all, rivers are regarded as the lifeblood of our natural ecosystems.

5) Paddling both relaxes and excites

  • The river provides a wonderful juxtaposition of elation and refreshment. Rapids provide for the rush of adrenaline and the excitement of anticipating what is next. Calm sections in between the rapids allow for a moment of relaxation and time to appreciate your surroundings.

6) Paddling creates unique and memorable experiences

  • One of the best reasons to paddle this year is very simple, it is FUN! One of my favorite parts of being a raft guide is people telling me, “That was the most fun thing we have done all summer.” Paddle rafting creates memories that will last a lifetime. Be careful, you may just find your new passion in life.

Happy rafters make it through Flip Rock Rapid on the Poudre River near Fort CollinsRafting through Guide Hole Rapid on the Cache La Poudre River

Poudre River Cleanup a Huge Success

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Mountain Whitewater’s annual river cleanup had a great turnout and was a huge success!

by Cassi Ballard, June 2016

Mountain Whitewater’s annual Clean the Poudre 2016 had an incredible turnout of over 125 volunteers. The crew cleaned up over 4 cubic yards of trash and a full cubic yard of recycling. Everyone was well prepared and had the best attitudes we could ask for.

An appreciation event at Paddler’s Pub at Mountain Whitewater was held after the cleanup with food and drink provided by LaPorte Pizza, Odell’s, Serious Texas Bar-B-Q, Backcountry Deli, and Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. Morning Fresh Dairy also brought 20 plus volunteers on their behalf and donated chocolate milk, lemonade, and yogurt for the appreciation event. So another thank you to these sponsors for supplying the hard working volunteers with free food and beer!

morning fresh employees at river cleanupA huge thank you to Save the Poudre, American Rivers, and The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Program for helping Mountain Whitewater sponsor this years cleanup.

Everyone’s efforts and contributions to the river cleanup were and still are greatly appreciated. The positive impact on the river helps to shine light on the city of Fort Collins and all of its citizens and attractions.

If you’re looking for information about next years river cleanup give Mountain Whitewater a call and be sure to stay tuned for updates!

River Safety & Rescue: The Safety Talk

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A clear and thorough safety talk is one of the most important elements of any competent, professionally run river trip.

by Ben Costello, April 2016

Mountain Whitewater Safety Talk

A clear and concise paddle and safety talk is a very important component to any river trip. The experience and familiarity level of the group might determine how thorough the discussion will be, but all trips should have a safety talk in some form. It should never be assumed that every member of a paddling trip is fully knowledgeable about river safety procedures and paddling techniques. Even experienced groups of paddlers should, at a minimum, briefly discuss hand signals to be used and the general plan for the trip.

A well crafted paddle talk should cover topics regarding river safety, proper equipment use, the trip plan and how to paddle. The talk should be informative, but also fun. It should be a thorough enough to cover everything needed, but not so long that people stop listening. 15 to 20 minutes is perfect.

On a lot of trips, the safety talk is conducted at the river put-in. At Mountain Whitewater, we conduct our paddle talks at our office. This allows for guest to be focussed on the safety talk without the distraction of looking at the river. The trip leader will conduct the safety talk for each trip. This allows for the trip leader to properly evaluate the group and interject their own style and humor to the talk. Each guest is given a copy of the safety talk check-list so they can follow along, with one guest checking items off the list as they are covered by the trip leader to ensure all topics are covered. The following is an example of a safety talk and the topics that should be included.

Introduction and equipment:

  • Greeting and introduction. Safety Talk: Trip Leader Demonstrating Hot to PaddleOutline of the plan for the day, length of trip, weather and brief itinerary.
  • The importance of quality safety gear – we use self-bailing boats with toe straps to help keep you in the boat, class V lifejackets to give great floatation, splash jackets and fleece for added warmth, and kayak style helmets to protect from rocks and flying paddles.
  • Lifejackets – Make sure they are tight so that when we pull up on the shoulder straps it stays in place. Wear your lifejacket at all times. Do not undo any of the buckles or straps.
  • Paddle boats – All of our trips are paddleraft trips. Team of paddlers listens to the guides’ commands to get the boat downriver. This is a team activity, everyone will need to participate and paddle.

Paddling and commands:

  • holding a paddle – Always have one hand on the t–grip (top of the paddle). The other hand when paddling will be as close to the blade as possible,  Safety Talk: Trip Leader Explains the Hi Side Command
  • forward paddle
    this gives better leverage. The more leverage you
    have, the less work you do.– Put the blade in the water in front of you and then bring it back.

  • back paddle – Put the blade in the water behind you and then bring it forward using your hip as a fulcrum point.
  • left turn – Left side back paddles, right side forward paddles
  • right turn –Right side back paddles, left side
    forward paddles.

  • stop –Stop paddling
  • hold on or bump or lean-in – Get ready for a bump, brace yourself
  • high side – If the boat is going to hit a large rock with force, we all need to jump onto the tube that is going to hit the rock; the high side is always downstream. Wait for the guide to call high side, jump to the downstream tube as fast as possible, and wait for the guide to tell you to return to your positions.
  • Intensity of the guides’ voice – As things get more intense the guides voice reflects that, start paddling harder.
  • Importance of paddling – The motor of the boats is you and your paddle. If you turn off the motor then the boat has no steering, power or brakes. Paddle hard.

River safety and rescue:


Safety Talk: Trip Leader Showing the OK Signal

  • Swimming – This is a rocky, low-volume river. When swimming, keep your feet downstream, float flat on your back and bounce off rocks with your feet. Get to shore, your boat or another boat. Keep your eyes open for a rope bag. If the water is deep, turn on your stomach and swim to the closest safe spot. If not, back paddle with your arms and legs.
  • Foot entrapment – Do not stand up in the river. Your foot could become lodged underneath a rock, the current pushes you forward, and suddenly you are stuck face down in the water. Sounds terrifying! DON’T stand in moving water.
  • Flipping – Occasionally boats can and do flip over. Follow all the same swimming procedures; the boats stay afloat whether right-side-up or upside-down. Do not hold onto the downstream side of the boat because we don’t want anyone smashed between the boat and downstream rocks.
  • Finding yourself underneath the boat – Get out from there. Put your hands above your head and push on the boat, use them like you are walking with your hands. Pick one direction and keep going.
  • Point positive – The guides may point while you are swimming, go that direction. We are pointing which way to go, not to look out for something. The faster they point, the faster you should go that way.
  • Rope bag – Safety Talk: Trip Leader Demonstrates the Throw Rope Toss all have bags full of rope to tow you in if you get away from the boat. Keep your eyes open for ropes coming from your boat, other boats or shore. Swim to get the rope. Hold onto the rope, not the bag, and put it over your shoulder. We will tow you in backwards.
  • Other boats – Other boats are happy to pull you in, go to whomever is closest. If a kayaker is towing you, grab onto the rear tow strap, kick hard with your feet. They will tow you to shore. Do not grab any other part of their boat, paddle or them.
  • Pulling someone in –Grab them by the shoulder straps of their lifejacket, brace your knees on the boat and fall backwards. Use your body weight not your arms. The person being pulled in should kick with their feet, just like getting out of a pool. If you still can’t get them in dunk them down into the water so that the buoyancy of the lifejacket can help you out (make sure you let them know what you are doing).
  • Strainers – Strainers are objects in the river like trees or branches that allow water to flow through but not people. Swim aggressively away from strainers. If you cannot swim away from the object, fight your way over the strainer, never allow yourself to swim under the strainer.

Other topics:


Safety Talk: Trip Leader Explains How to Pull Someone Into the Raft

  • Water Fighting – Water fighting is allowed on warm days for willing parties. Don’t splash if someone doesn’t want to. Watch for flailing paddles, don’t splash or squirt someone in the face. Stay in your raft. Do not water fight above rapids.
  • Any medical condition that we should know about? Please let your guide know about any medical conditions or drugs that you are taking that may help us in an emergency.
  • Litter – If we catch anyone marring our beautiful office, you will be boatless. Seriously, we want to keep this beautiful for us and everyone else. Everything that we bring in, we bring out. There is also recycling available at the shop.
  • Get Your Gear – Follow guides to get your gear. Please be prudent as we are on a strict time schedule. The order you wear your gear from bottom to top is: bathing suit, wetsuit, fleece, splash jacket and then your pfd.
  • Natural Flowing Rivers – We do not expect all of these things to happen, however, this is a naturally flowing river, you are not at Disney Land, so it is possible for some of these things to happen.

Rope Safety: How to Properly Use a Throw Bag

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A discussion about rope safety and the proper use of a throw rope in whitewater rafting and whitewater rescue.

by Ben Costello, April 2016

To put it simply, a rope bag or throw bag is a bag filled with rope. It is a common river rescue tool that is carried on every raft at Mountain Whitewater. Most commercially available throw bags are made up of a nylon or Cordura bag filed with Polypropylene (or other floating material) rope. The ropes are made from a synthetic material that doesn’t lose its integrity when it gets wet. Max loads range from 950-2500+ lbs depending on the material. Ropes range in size and shape depending on their intended use. They will generally be made with bright colors and even reflective tape to ensure high visibility for the rescuer and the person being rescued.

There are bags designed to be worn around your waist, bags designed to be clipped onto a D-ring on your raft, bags designed to fit inside a small kayak and many others. Here are a few examples of throw bags that can be purchased from NRS:

NRS Standard Rescue Throw Bag
NRW Wedge Rescue Throw Bag
NRS Pro Guardian Waist Throw Bag

Throw bag images courtesy of www.NRS.com

How To


The rope bag toss is one of the guide’s best ways to get guests to safety. Anyone that may have to throw a rope should practice regularly. As with most things, the better prepared you are for a rope toss through practice, the better you will perform when someone’s life is on the other end. Lucky for us, there is a road alongside much of the Cache La Poudre River. This allows our bus drivers to stop at the bigger rapids during high water to add another set of hands to help with throwing ropes.

When using a throw bag, there are several factors to consider. If possible, you should set-up before the rescue to ensure the best success. Trying to gain eye contact with the person to whom you’re throwing a rope. Swimmers are more likely to grab a rope if they see it coming and can look for it. Yelling “ROPE” before throwing a rope bag can also help gain the swimmers attention.

Rope Safety: Throw Bag Practice Makes Perfect

Most bags are best thrown with an underhand grip, though there are some that are designed to be thrown overhand. In order to throw a throw rope, you must hold the loose end of the rope with your non-throwing hand and grasp the bag firmly with your throwing hand. Make sure to leave about ten feet of “tail” on the loose end so you can let out some rope if needed. As you throw and release the bag it is VERY important that you don’t let go of the loose end…that’s what you’ll use to pull the swimmer in. When you throw, yell “rope” and aim straight at the swimmer’s head. As you throw the rope, the rope will unravel from the bag.

If you manage to hit the swimmer in the head, you’ve made a great shot. Now the swimmer only has to grab the rope to be pulled in instead of swimming to it. Hold firmly to the rope and make sure your swimmer does the same. If they hold the rope over their shoulder while floating on their back with their feet pointed downstream, it will be easier on both you and them. You can tow the swimmer back to the boat or shore or pendulum them towards shore or another boat to allow them to climb out on their own.

Some things to keep in mind…

  • Make sure you have secure footing either on shore on the raft.
  • Having another person that can help back you up is a great idea. It’s nice to have someone that can help you pull the swimmer to safety and make sure you don’t get pulled into the river yourself.
  • Be aware of where the swimmer well end up after their pendulum to shore. Don’t swing them into any river hazard.
  • Make sure you repack your throw bag properly after every time you use it to ensure easy unraveling and not a knotted mess.
  • If possible, step toward your target as you throw to improve accuracy.
  • Don’t release the rope to early or too late. Your release should aim the rope at your target.
  • If there are several of you with a rope to throw, don’t all throw at the same time. This will prevent potentially dangerous tangling of the ropes.