The Weekenders

Raft the Cache la Poudre

Jul 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Seeing white: taking on Colorado's rapids

Say "whitewater" in Denver and most people think of the Arkansas River. Instead, consider the Cache la Poudre. Just an hour north of the city, Colorado's only Wild and Scenic River is off the radar screen of most area rafters. And what the Poudre (locals pronounce it "pooder") lacks in big water, it makes up for with high-speed, steep-gorge technicality and stunning scenery.

Bob Klein, a longtime guide at A Wanderlust Adventure, will meet you and your brood Saturday morning at Vern's Restaurant in La Porte, just outside Fort Collins. Get there early for a full-on breakfast, or pick up a Frisbee-size cinnamon roll to munch on the 40-minute bus ride to the put-in a couple of miles above Grandpa's Gorge, near Rustic. Hang on for 21 miles and a full day of near-continuous Class III and IV rapids. And keep your eyes open: The Ponderosa-covered canyon ledges are loaded with bighorn sheep and deer; even bear sightings are a possibility.
After you're drenched, spend Saturday night camping in Colorado State Forest State Park, the area's best-kept backcountry secret, about 90 minutes west of La Porte. Watch for moose—the local herd numbers 600—as you drive the winding, narrow road to a remote car-camp site known as The Crags. The next day, hike the short but steep trail to Lake Agnes and its glacier, girded by the exposed Never Summer Range.

DRIVE TIME FROM DENVER: one hour and change
WHO CAN GO: In early June the minimum rafting age on full-day trips is 14; by the end of June, the river mellows enough for preteens. A relatively calm stretch makes a good half-day option for kids as young as seven.
COST: Full day: $91 per person; half-day, $41 per adult and $35 per kid age seven to 12. The Colorado State Forest State Park entry fee is $5; campsites are $10 apiece for up to six people and two tents.

CONTACT: A Wanderlust Adventure, 800-745-7238, ; Colorado State Forest State Park, 970-723-8366;

Filed To: Rafting

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