Cache la Poudre River

View from the water on the Poudre River

The Cache la Poudre is Colorado's only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River. Starting high in the peaks of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park along the Continental Divide, the river flows down a rocky canyon through the Roosevelt National Forest, dropping 7,000 feet in elevation along the way. Many recreational opportunities abound along and on the river, including scenic drives, camping, picnicking, fishing, rafting, hiking, mountain biking and wildlife viewing opportunities.

At a Glance

Reservations: Five campgrounds along the Poudre accept reservations; six others are first come, first served.
Busiest Season: Summer

General Information

General Notes:

View a vicinity map of the Cache la Poudre Wild and Scenic River (geo .pdf)

Select the image to view a downloadable map of recreation sites along the river, including put-ins and take-outs along the river.

Vicinity map of Cache la Poudre Wild and Scenic River

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

Brown Ansel Watrous campground sign in summer.There are 11 campgrounds along the Poudre. Five of thesee accept reservations and the other six are first come, first served. Campgrounds are typically open from mid- to late- summer and often fill by Wednesday or Thursday. Ansel Watrous Campground stays open all year.

Fees: Varies

River and Stream Fishing

Fisherman in the Upper Poudre River.Fishing for trout in the Poudre River is a great adventure. Cutthroat trout and introduced brown and rainbow trout are plentiful.

Some areas of the Poudre are catch-and-release only, Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages fishing activities. Licenses may be purchased at their office and at sporting goods stores in Fort Collins and at many canyon resorts.

Day Hiking

Hiking trails start along the river and head into the high country. Park at one of the many trailheads throughout the canyon and explore one of the many Poudre tributaries that meander through meadows and forests before joining with the Poudre River.

Viewing Wildlife

Interpretive sign along the Upper Poudre RiverThe Poudre Canyon is home to many of the "usual" mountain wildlife found in the central Rockies - mule deer, elk, black bear, fox, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, bobcat, moose, squirrels and rabbits - but it is also home to over a hundred species of birds and the unique looking tassel-eared squirrel.

There is a bighorn sheep viewing area where these amazing animals can often be seen near the Big Bend Campground.


Picnic table on gravel along the Upper Poudre River.Stop and enjoy the sights and sounds of the river at one of a dozen picnic areas. Picnic areas have tables, fire grills and vault toilets. Two are fee areas, while the rest are not.

Fees: Two are fee areas, while the rest are not.

Scenic Driving

Cache la Poudre Wild and Scenic RiverLoaded with both amazing scenery and history, Colorado State Highway 14 follows much of the river's winding path. The route is designated a State Scenic and Historic Byway and spans 106 miles between Fort Collins and Walden, Colo. Be sure to watch for bicycles, cattle, wildlife, slow vehicles and people along the road.

Boating - Non-Motorized

Two kayakers on the Upper Poudre RiverWhitewater boating is very popular from April through August. Rapids range from Class 2 to Class 5, offering a challenge for canoes, kayaks and rafts alike.

Difficulty varies drastically with water levels, and hazards are common, including dams and low bridges.

Commercial rafter group together in boats on the river.Go with a professional outfitter if you are unfamiliar with the river.

Know Before You Go

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Related Links

Campgrounds At-A-Glance

Featured Events


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