Colorado River Description
The Colorado River is the main river of the American Southwest. It drains almost a quarter million square miles in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California. At the same time, it supplies Southern California and many other areas with most of their water. From headwaters in the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the river drops over a mile by the time it reaches the Grand Canyon at Lee’s Ferry, and then another 2,200 feet in the 277 miles before it reaches the other end of the Grand Canyon and on to the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean.
Over its course, the appearance and character of the Colorado changes drastically over the miles, from rapids to sections of calm water, and depths between six to 90 feet. Talk to a Minturn Anglers guide to explore trout fly fishing opportunities on the stretches outside the state of Colorado.
Within Colorado, the river is a great freestone fishery along its entire length, with no dams to impede its flow. From a very small stream at its headwaters, many small and large tributaries increase its size to over 100 feet wide as the Colorado flows west. These sparkling blue-green waters are home to large rainbow trout as well as generous populations of browns, cutthroat and brook trout.
Even though the upper sections of the river to Kremmling flow through several reservoirs and private property, there are still many places to access the river can be accessed. There are a number of pulloffs and exits along Route #40. Many areas, especially near Hot Sulphur Springs, offer good wading opportunities, with the best being downstream from Kremmling at the Fraser River confluence near Granby. The water here is about 50 feet side and offers moderate flows, is easy to wade and offers long riffles and runs. Byers Canyon, closer to Hot Sulphur Springs, offers much faster flowing pocket water.
The Blue River joins the Colorado west of Kremmling, adding considerably to its flow. Floating the Colorado becomes the primary and sometimes only option in this section. Many boat launches make for easy access of the river here. Be sure to have an experienced person at the oars, as the river is swift and some areas are dangerous to float. Wading opportunities are limited to boat launch areas.
The section from Kremmling to Dotsero is followed by State Route #1 and the Colorado River Road, but there are few access points. Expect better access and good trout fishing from Dotsero through the Glenwood Canyon, following Route #70. The water here is too deep to wade, but there are boat launch ramps available.
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