Do Not Tube in Poudre Canyon, Especially During Spring Runoff
My recommendation is that you do not tube the Poudre River in Poudre Canyon at all. Ever.
You want to get in the Poudre? Pay a guide company. You’ll have 10 times more fun! Trust me, your enjoyment will far exceed whatever you pay.
According to the Denver Post, the Larimer County Sheriff’s office recently recommended that the only way to safely enjoy the Poudre River is with professional companies. While there are plenty of private citizens who know what they are doing, let’s just take their point. The river is dangerous. If you don’t know exactly what you are doing, enlist the help of someone who does.
If you insist on going without a pro company, at least rent a duckie, wear a PFD (personal flotation device or life jacket), wear a helmet and know how to swim. And respect the river. Anytime you are in it, it is a risk.
It is not a lazy river. It is a wild and scenic flow fed by melting snow. It is always cold. Hypothermia is always a real danger, second only to death by drowning.
Okay, I’ll admit, there are times of the year when the flow is so low that the main danger in Filter Plant (a class II run in the lowest part of the Canyon, ending at Picnic Rock) is bumps and bruises from slamming into rocks and stepping into holes that are deeper than we thought, but that is the exception, not the rule.
Tubing anywhere above Gateway Natural Area is insane. Just don’t do it.
The most dangerous time is during spring runoff.
We are constantly welcoming new people to northern Colorado, and there is some misinformation out there. When I moved here, my college age and just post college age friends and I thought it was perfectly fine to tube in Poudre Canyon. We headed up into the Canyon, and mayhem often ensued. Luckily we made it out alive.
One of my mom’s favorite sayings was “There is a time and place for everything.” It’s true.
There is a time and a place to tube the Poudre. The time is generally July (or when the river level drops) and the place is between Shields and College in Fort Collins.