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Raft Guide Training School 2024 | Mountain Whitewater



by Lindsey Modesitt, January 2024

Are you looking for a challenging, active, and rewarding career in the outdoors? If so, raft guide training school at Mountain Whitewater is perfect for you. Become a certified raft guide in the State of Colorado and earn the chance to be part of the Mountain Whitewater team by enrolling in our 2024 guide school.

Schedule & Materials

Mountain Whitewater Guide Melissa Matsunaka on the Poudre RiverThe course starts at 8:00 am on Monday, May 20th, 2024. The first week will consist of classroom sessions in the mornings. Classroom sessions will last until around noon, followed by on-river training in the afternoons (river level permitting). These classroom sessions will consist of a compilation of videos, slides, handouts, lectures, and quizzes. All dry-land instruction and classroom sessions take place on the grounds at Mountain Whitewater.

Trainees will receive a training packet containing materials related to the course. The packets include all the required materials from the State of Colorado and Mountain Whitewater. The packets will serve as a guide throughout the course. Professionally Guiding Whitewater and The Complete Whitewater Rafter will be used as the main texts for the course and will be loaned to you for the duration of the course. Other books, videos, and other rafting-related materials are available to trainees through the Mountain Whitewater library.

The classroom sessions that are required by the State of Colorado to obtain your guide license are listed below. They will help visualize what is happening on the river and to understand why the boat acts a certain way in rapids. Classes are held early in the training process so that the skills learned in the classroom can be applied to the river.

  • Monday, May 20th – 8 am: Paperwork, Employee Handbook, Equipment & Gear, Rigging
  • Tuesday, May 21st – 9 am: River Currents, River Features, Paddle Commands, rating scales
  • Wednesday, May 22nd – 9 am: Running the Rapids, Safety, Safety Talk, River Hazards
  • Thursday, May 23rd – 9 am: River Rescue, Emergency Procedures, Rope Rescue
  • Friday, May 24th – 9 am: Miscellaneous, Outdoor Impacts, How to be a Better Guide


Mountain Whitewater Raft Guides | Season Opening Day 2018
All trainees are required to meet the following criteria to become a raft guide at Mountain Whitewater.

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be able to attend all the above-listed class sessions
  • Complete 100+ hours of on-river training required by Mountain Whitewater
  • Must complete the Mountain Whitewater Rapid Check-off Sheet
  • Must pass a basic First Aid and CPR class if not currently certified. Mountain Whitewater will host a class for staff and trainees sometime in the spring.
  • Must complete the Mountain Whitewater Swiftwater Rescue class (included in training investment)
  • Must pass a top to bottom check-out run with a trainer
  • Treat the training course as if it were a very long job interview to show why you deserve to be part of the Mountain Whitewater team.


There will be three main guide trainers; however, we will also have some of our returning guides help with training and instruction as well.

Owner & Raft Guide Brad ModesittBrad Modesitt (Owner), 24rd-year guide, Canyons Inc. River Rescue Course, Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (trained), Outdoor Emergency Care Technician, Wilderness First Responder. Brad Modesitt is from Michigan but has lived in Colorado most of his life. Privately he has boated on four continents while pursuing his passion of traveling. He has over 24,901 river miles which is the circumference of the earth! His favorite trip so far has been canoeing to New Orleans and then bicycling to Chile.

Justin “Baby J” Romero- Justin grew up in Fort Collins where he explores the mountains.  Justin Graduated from Colorado State University in December with a degree in Forestry and Rangeland Management.  He enjoys spending time in a hammock in the mountains and listening to the wind whip through the trees.  When not on the river, Justin can be found eating burritos and listening to rock ‘n roll.  He likes fishing, hunting, hiking snowboarding and many other things.  He is trained in SwiftWater Rescue Techniques.  This is Justin’s 5th year guiding on the Cache La Poudre

Evandel “Vano” Crabtree- Vano is from Dayton, Ohio where he grew up playing football and running track.  He graduated from Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.  Vano’s next adventure was to follow his heart and chase his passion for rafting.  That passion found him in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Vano’s love for rafting came from rafting trips as a kid in West Virginia.  After discovering that guides were like superheroes, he decided that would be a perfect fit for him, we agreed.  Vano is a SwiftWater trained and this is his 4th year as a guide on the Poudre River.

Also assisting with Training for 2024

Matt Troyanek, Coe Stemple, Casey Batezel, Jack Reed, Melissa Matsunaka, Jacque “tiny” McVey, Casey Kramer

How to Apply

Training Investment: $395. Taking the class is not a guarantee of a job, but all new guides will be hired from the training class. If hired, half of the class fee is returned after the second full-time season working with Mountain Whitewater, the other half is returned after the third full-time season working with Mountain Whitewater. This cost covers the classroom sessions, dry-land sessions, equipment used during training (PFD, wetsuit, booties, splash jacket, and helmet), Swiftwater rescue class, and transportation to and from the Cache La Poudre River Canyon. Being a river guide is a multidimensional job requiring both physical skills and an outgoing personality. We are looking for people who can fulfill those needs. Ask around…we have the best-trained guides you will find.

If interested, contact us at contacts@raftmw.com or by calling 970-419-0917.


COVID-19 Announcement


Update June 9, 2020

We have always prided ourselves in the cleaning of our gear. Since opening in 2001, we have sanitized the gear daily, and we are taking additional measures to help with COVID-19 and protect you and our employees this season.

Along with sanitizing PFDs, helmets, and wetsuits, we have also started sanitizing paddles between trips. We created a sanitation team, carrying backpack spray systems (think Ghost Busters, or Ghost Bleachers as we’ve been calling them) to take care of us all over the place. All employees are temperature and symptom checked daily. Guests are asked to stay home if they are symptomatic (fever, flu-like symptoms, cough, shortness of breath, etc.). The complimentary fleece jackets normally provided are very difficult for us to dry in time for the next needed trip, so this season we ask that you bring your own fleece jacket, which will get wet.

Around the facilities, we’re also practicing extra precaution and following state and county guidelines. Our 12-acre site is mostly outdoors. Check-in for rafting is under a large tent with lots of ventilation. Bathrooms are scattered throughout the property, and are cleaned and sanitized often. The busses are running at 50% capacity with the windows down, even during inclement weather, to increase ventilation. The vehicles are sanitized after each trip. Boats will be limited to two households per boat.

When you arrive at the Mountain Whitewater site:

  • Masks are required when you enter, walk around and while on the bus, but not on the rafts. After your trip, you may sit in one of our 50 spaced out tables and enjoy a beer with your group without masks.
  • Maintain social distancing from other groups by at least six feet.
  • Fill and bring a reusable water bottle to share between your group while on the raft. Guides will attach personal water bottles to the raft using a caribiner clip, so check that your bottle has a loop or hook.

As you walk around our property to sit and wait, enjoy a beer or play a game of corn hole, you will see rocks with red on one side and green on the other. GREEN means that item has been sanitized and is ready to go. Please flip the rock over to RED once you use it so that our backpack spraying sanitizing team can take care of it.

Thanks for continuing to support local, family-owned business, and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Update April 29, 2020

Due to government restrictions and social distancing guidelines, the start of the 2020 season has been postponed to May 30. Please check back for future updates or call 970-419-0917 for additional information.

Update April 14, 2020

Standard Cleaning Policy

The following details the standard cleaning procedures at Mountain Whitewater & Paddler’s Pub. The health and safety of both staff and guests is a top priority. The policy is based on recommendations from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The following recommendations from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have been adopted by Mountain Whitewater & Paddler’s Pub:

Based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about 6 feet). This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets. Transmission of COVID-19 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty and high touch surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

  • Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

How to Clean and Disinfect Surfaces

  • Cleaning and disinfection after persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the facility
  • It is recommended to close off areas used by the ill persons and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. Restrict access for two hours after the sick person has left. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces. Continue to follow all cleaning and disinfecting recommendations provided below.
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used.
  • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Check the label on the bleach container to be sure it provides claims about disinfecting and instructions for mixing. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, application and proper ventilation. Avoid using bottles of bleach that you think may be older than one year or are past their expiration date as marked on the bottle. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.


Daily Cleaning Checklist for Mountain Whitewater & Paddler’s Pub

**This policy will be updated as more information about the disease becomes available and new government and social restrictions are mandated.**


  • Disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces in office desk area including computer keyboards, mouse, iPads, square stands, credit card readers, printers, copier, file cabinet handles, retail display handles once every two hours.
  • Clean, then disinfect the following surfaces in the tent twice per day after each trip leaves: retail displays, office desk, photo station, bar, beer coolers, big table, canoe table, canoe pew, office and pub floors, water cooler, tent center poles.
  • Disinfect all of the following areas in the office storage container twice per day: container handles, beer coolers, lockers, file cabinets, cash box, cash drawers.
  • Make sure to wear disposable gloves when touching retail items when stocking and wash hand after.
  • Make sure guests use hand sanitizer before shopping and touching any retail items and displays.
  • Disinfect TV remotes twice per day.
  • Clean, then disinfect the following surfaces in the main house twice per day after each trip leaves: door handles, bathroom surfaces, toilets, atm, brochure displays, light switches.
  • Clean, then disinfect the following surfaces in the main house once per day: desk, floors, carpet.
  • Make sure to wear disposable gloves and clean surfaces after using items or touching surfaces in the upstairs kitchen area. Bathroom surfaces in upstairs galley need to be sanitized once per day.
  • All rental equipment must be disinfected after each return.

Utility Person:

  • Clean and disinfect all wrought iron tables, chairs, picknick tables, benches once per day.
  • Hose off playground equipment once per day with soap and water once per day.
  • Disinfect all stage and music equipment after use by bands.
  • Hose-off all yard games once per day with disinfectant solution.
  • Clean and disinfect gas grills, heaters, fire table once per day.
  • Hose off all trash and recycle bins once per week with soap and water.
  • Clean and disinfect tent walls once per week.


  • Disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces in the bar area as often as possible, but at least once per hour: bar top, beer coolers, iPads, cash drawers, receipt printer, draft handles, water cooler, wine fridges, soda fridge, bar top games, beer lists.
  • Clean and disinfect bar stools twice per shift.
  • Clean and disinfect pub floor after each shift.
  • Make sure to make a new bleach water solution to start each sift.
  • Clean out inside of beer coolers and draft coolers twice per week.
  • Make sure to disinfect tap locks and tap plugs before use on taps.
  • Disinfect tavern heads once per shift.
  • Disinfect handles and gauges on CO2 tanks once per shift.

Boat Barn (guides):

  • Clean and disinfect all rafting equipment after each use. Rafting equipment will not be re-used for another trip without being disinfected. All equipment must completely soak in disinfecting solution and Sink the Stink until saturated. Equipment must air dry for at least 20 minutes before being put away.
  • Clean and disinfect the following surfaces in the boat barn once per day: helmet counter, changing room stall handles and hooks, door handles, electric pump blowers and cord, light switches.
  • Sweep floor and vacuum floors every other day.
  • Guides must make sure to wash hands or use hand sanitizer after cleaning gear and before each trip.

Buses (Drivers):

  • Disinfect all bus seats door handles at the end of each day.
  • Disinfect driver cab area after each day including steering wheel, seat, switches, air brake knob, and any other surface used that day.
  • Sweep out bus floor after each day.

March 24, 2020

At Mountain Whitewater, our employee and guest health and safety are a top priority. We are currently closely monitoring the changing situation in our State and Country concerning the COVID-19 virus outbreak. We will continue to monitor information released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will follow recommended practices for a clean and healthy environment.

Mountain Whitewater prides itself on maintaining high quality, clean equipment and facilities and will continue to clean and disinfect all rafting equipment daily. Our everyday equipment cleaning process involves first soaking all equipment in a disinfectant solution followed by a soak in a deodorizing solution. The process makes sure we have clean equipment that does not stink. In addition to our normal, everyday process, we will take some additional steps as well.

  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting our busses.
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of office and pub facilities.
  • Post additional signage to encourage effective hand washing and hand sanitizer use to stop the spread of germs and viruses.
  • Communitcate to our employees and guests the CDC guidelines for reducing the spread of germs and viruses.

Mountain Whitewater and Paddler’s Pub are staying positive and planning on having a fantastic summer season in 2020. We are now taking reservations and plan to open normally on May 15. Please stay tuned for more announcements and thanks for the continued support. We hope for wellness for families and communities and know that the river will be there to heal our souls when this ordeal is over. See you on the river this summer!

Cancelation Policy: A full refund will be issued, less 10% reservation fee (6% goes to credit card fees, 4% helps pay our staff a living wage), if canceled with office staff 7 days or more before your trip. Any cancellation within one week of the trip date is non-refundable. Trip cancelation insurance is available but must be purchased at the time of booking for the entire group. Please ask our office staff if interested.

The Laughing Dog Food Truck at Mountain Whitewater


By Ben Costello, January 2020

We would like to introduce our friends The Laughing Dog Food Truck. Now OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Serving up all-beef hot dogs, the best chili cheese dogs ever, kraft dogs with spicy mustard, brats, hot polish sausages, their signature Diablo Sandwich and more. They always have a weekly rotating special and affordable pricing.

The Laughing Dog Food Truck will be available to feed the hungry guests at Mountain Whitewater & Paddler’s Pub every day during the 2020 rafting season. Nothing works up an appetite like an exciting whitewater rafting trip!

If you have questions or would like to book The Laughing Dog for an event, please call or email Kelly.

(970) 310-5590


2019 Summer Music – End of Season Party

paddlers pub end 2019 poster small

History of Whitewater Paddling | Mountain Whitewater


Original text by Jed Policky in July, 2001. Eddited by Ben Costello in February, 2018

The Origin of Kayaks and Canoes in North America

  • the Inuit and other people native to the Arctic Regions of North America and Greenland designed the first kayaks and canoes in North America. However, these kayaks were not made to run rivers like the ones that we run today. These native kayaks were made for use in the open seas to carry loads and for hunting.

Native Kayaks and Canoes Closer to Home

Photo Gallery - Poudre River Kayaking

  • Native Americans had canoes made of bark, particularly birch bark in the 1700s. Although these canoes were primitive, there was great skill put into their design and construction. They were designed for various water conditions such as rapid streams, quiet waters, lakes, and along the coast.
  • During this same time period, the fur trade was developing and expanding across North America. At this time, European trappers and fur traders started using kayaks and canoes. They first purchased the bark canoes form the native builders. Later, French craftsmen began to build their own canoes with wooden frames on the inside for the internal structure and canvas on the outside to form the shell.

The Beginnings of Whitewater Navigation

  • The first attempt to navigate a whitewater river happened in 1811. The group attempting the journey on the Snake River in Wyoming found they did not have proper equipment or skills, so the river was deemed too difficult to run.
  • The first rubber raft was built in 1840 by Lt. John Freemont and Horace Day in order to survey the Rocky Mountains via the Snake River. The expedition and raft failed due to the rough waters.

Early Colorado River Expeditions

  • In 1869 and 1871, John Wesley Powell led the first two expeditions down the length of the Colorado River. The trips were an effort to produce a systematic and scientific survey of the Colorado River drainage system. Powell’s exploration of Colorado’s Rivers not only helped develop and expand the west; it sparked the imagination for further whitewater exploration. Powell used wooden boats on his journeys, making for a very difficult endeavor. Powell’s expeditions set the precedent for commercial river running which started out using wooden boats.

The Popularity of River Running Increases

Whitewater Rafting on the Poudre River | History of Whitewater

  • Paddling had been a recreational activity in both the US and Europe since the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that the first major advancements began to develop. With new materials, such as fiberglass and aluminum to make kayaks and canoes and synthetic rubber for rafts, river activities started to increase in popularity, though the number of participants was still small compared to today’s standards. Rafts were also available through war surplus stores, which created an increase in the number of people rafting. This increase of rafting mainly was focused in the west and opened many boundaries for running whitewater.
  • The first successful whitewater rafting expedition took place in July of 1940. Clyde Smith was able to navigate the Snake River Canyon in a homemade rubber raft.
  • The 1st Annual Royal Gorge Boat Race was held in 1949 in Salida, Colorado. It is now the oldest whitewater race in the Western Hemisphere

Paddling in the 1950s

  • Kayakers invented the “Eskimo Roll” in the 1950s. This is the technique that allows for kayakers to right themselves after flipping over without leaving their boat.
  • Many boaters improved their technique and skills due to new boat designs and new materials. This revolution gave way to many 1st descents of rivers in the US.
  • The scale for rating rapids that we still use today was developed in the 1950s. The International Scale was developed by the American Whitewater Association to rate rivers from Class I-VI. Class I being the easiest, and class VI as the hardest.
  • Some of the first commercial raft trips were run out of a lodge John D. Rockefeller, Jr. built in Grand Teton National Park. The float trips used surplus war rafts that were 27 ft long. Less than 500 people went that first year.

River Conservation and More Innovation in the 1960s

Class IV Whitewater on the Poudre River | Mountain Whitewater

  • As technique and boat design continued to improve during the 1960s, the difficulty level of rivers being run increased.
  • The number of people participating in commercial rafting trips increased greatly during the 1960s with the growing number of river outfitters.
  • The first commercial rafting companies running the Grand Canyon began in the 1960s. Some companies used the then-new large rubber rafts. Others used wooden dories that harken back to the Powell era.
  • During this same time period, many rivers were beginning to be damned for hydroelectric power, irrigation, or for water storage in reservoirs. Many rivers were changed or even lost forever due to dams being built. Conservation of rivers became an important national topic of concern among boaters and conservationists. On Oct. 2, 1967, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was passed. The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was established a year, protect rivers from dam building and preserving the free-flowing nature of some of our nations most popular and pristine rivers.

Whitewater Paddling Popularity Booms

History of Whitewater Paddling | Poudre River Rafting

  • Movies, like Deliverance that was released in 1972, brought whitewater paddling to a more mainstream and widespread audience.
  • Whitewater sports were included in the ’72 Olympics in Augsburg, Germany.
  • Playboating began during this period. Kayakers started surfing waves and playing in holes rather than running rivers. Playboating was made possible by the invention of the plastic kayak, which is a lot more durable than previous versions.
  • As whitewater sports moved from a club sport to a more mainstream activity, a market for everything from boats to equipment to guidebooks grew.
  • The threat of damn building also increased which resulted in increased legislation and regulation of rivers.

Whitewater Paddling Grows Up

  • Whitewater became a full-fledged industry with many new innovations in the 1980s.
  • The introduction of dry suits extended the boating season to colder parts of the year.
  • A new form of kayaks called squirt boats was introduced.
  • The most important innovation for rafting in this era was the introduction of self-bailing floors. Rafts before this time had sealed floors that held water inside the boat. The water then had to be bailed out of the raft. Thus, self-bailing floors made rafting whitewater easier and made it safer to run more difficult rapids.
  • Different types of media, from books to videos, grew for purposes such as instruction, entertainment, and even promotion (Mountain Dew).
  • the 1980s saw a huge increase in the number of participants in whitewater recreation. The increase resulted in an increase in dam building and river access issues.
  • In 1986, the upper 75 miles of the Cache La Poudre River were designed by Congress as “Wild & Scenic.” The designation meant that this section of the river was protected from further water projects and dams to preserve its free-flowing nature. The designation also put the United States Forest Service in charge of permitting and regulating the river.

The ‘90s and beyond.

History of Rafting in Colorado | Mountain Whitewater & Paddler's Pub

  • At the beginning of the 1990s an estimated 14.8 million people participated in whitewater rafting and kayaking. This is a big jump form whitewater’s humble beginning as a club sport with a very limited number of participants. Many components can be attributed to the industries success including new magazines, TV shows, videos and movies, Internet, and competitions such as the X-Games.
  • Whitewater sports were included in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
  • The International Federation of Rafting was established in 1997. The first rafting world championships were held in 1999.
  • Mountain Whitewater was founded in 2000.
  • Almost 5.5 milion people went on a commercial rafitng trip between 2006 and 2016 in Colorado.

Wild & Scenic Rivers Act 50th Anniversary


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


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


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


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


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


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!

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The prevalence of these flowers gave this settlement its name.

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 was a mining claim, but the origin of the name is unknown.

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.

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.

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

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.

A USFS campground taking its name from the city of Fort Collins.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This was homesteaded, but not known by whom; perhaps it was Walter Thompson. The meaning of Mishawaka is unknown.

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

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Named for the river.

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.

(See Old Mans Face)

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”.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

A rock formation taht resembles a sleeping elephant.

Named by USFS for the nearby rock formation.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

See Lulu Pass

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.

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.

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

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

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.

Operated by Alvi Yauger.

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.

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


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/