Some of the West's most important rivers start deep inside the Rocky Mountain State and flow east and west shaping the landscape and generations of settlers. Rafters, photographers, anglers, backpackers, and many more enjoy Colorado's vast river system, which is comprised of over 2,000 lakes and streams.
The same river that runs through the inner depths of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Colorado River originates in the northwestern reaches of Rocky Mountain National Park. From there the Colorado cuts across the state racing towards the central western border before crossing into Utah.
A tributary of the Colorado, the Gunnison is responsible for Black Canyon, a dramatic hardrock canyon nearly 2,000-feet deep and only a little over 1,000-feet wide. The river is known for it's violent rapids, technical rock climbing along its walls, and world-class trout fishing. In fact one of the best fly fishing movies of all time was shot in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Appropriately called The Hatch the movie follows anglers looking to score their best fishing ever.
East of the Continental Divide under Canby Mountain the Rio Grande heads south through the San Louis Valley before crossing over into New Mexico. The Rio is best known as creating the border between western Texas and Mexico. Boaters of all skill levels love the upper Rio Grande as it winds down from the San Juan Mountains.
The Arkansas River is the longest river in Colorado and originates east of the Continental Dive by the mountain town of Leadville. The river is a major artery of the Mississippi and flows through the Royal Gorge, one of Colorado's premier canyons. Known also for it's prized trout fishing, anglers from all over the world come to its banks to cast a line.
The Big Thompson
Originating in the furthest reaches of Forest Canyon in Rocky Mountain National Park; the Big Thompson is one of the Park's premier rivers. Flowing out of Forest Canyon the Big T as locals call it meanders through Moraine Park before entering Estes Park. Flowing out of Estes Park into the Big Thompson Canyon the river then heads into the plains and eventually merges with the South Platte.
La Poudre River
Colorado's only wild and scenic river, the Poudre cuts through the La Poudre River Canyon in the northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park. Steep-walled and filled with house-size boulders, the Poudre is a great place for beginner and experienced rafters to experience the natural beauty of northeastern Colorado.