South Platte River

admin November 3, 2010 0

The South Platte River is one of two principal tributaries of the Platte River.  It was a major river of the West and is located in Colorado and Wyoming.  The South Platter River’s drainage basin includes much of the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains, the populated Colorado Front Range and Eastern Plains, and a portion near the city of Cheyenne.   It joins the North Platte River in western Nebraska to form the Platte River.  It then flows across Nebraska into Missouri.  It serves as the principal source of water for eastern Colorado.  The South Platte River is approximately four hundred forty-two miles long.

Around Denver, the dams and reservoirs are used for flood control, power generation, and irrigation.  The South Platte River is one of the finest fisheries in Colorado.  You can find rainbow trout and brown trout of impressive sizes.  At times, you can see the trout “gliding” in the currents of the clear, free flowing river.  The South Platte River is known worldwide for being a premium trout fishery and is great for fly-fishing and camping.

The section through Eleven Mile Canyon can only be navigated with duckies and kayaks.  They have rapids that range from class III to class V+.  These rapids will have many eddies, holes, waves, side rapids, and tight “S” turns.  On the north fork from Bailey to Pine, is the only wild navigable canyon.  This section is mostly reserved for expert paddlers.  The best time to raft is from July to August.  Technical class IV rapids plunge over a series of sharp drops from Buffalo Creek to South Fork Confluence.  From Deckers to North Fork through the Platte Canyon the rapids are generally light with class I to II rapids.

The stages traveled along the banks of the South Platte River from Julesburg to Latham.  It pretty much followed the old Pike’s Peak route on the way west.  In June 1965, the South Platte River flooded due to the extremely severe thunderstorms many miles south of Littleton.  The river crested at twenty-five feet above normal. It was carrying forty times the normal flow.  When clean up time came, the course of the South Platte River from Littleton to the Colorado-Nebraska border was a “mud-encased, wreckage-strewn landscape of desolation.”   It was estimated that the damage from this food was some five hundred forty million dollars and cost twenty-six people lost their lives.   It was one of Colorado’s worst natural disasters.

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