Cruise - Wagon Wheel Gap Run, Rio Grande River (Class II)

  • 06/04/2016
  • Rio Grande River near South Fork, Colorado


This cruise will be held on the Wagon Wheel Gap Run on the Rio Grande River near South Fork, Colorado. Contact Elaine Regan to sign up and for more information.

June 4 at 11:00 am. Meet in the parking lot of the South Fork, CO Visitor’s Center. This is located at the Junction of Rt 160 and Rt 149.

This stretch of river is Cl II. There is a rock garden that can be a Cl II+/III- dependent on flow level. We will paddle about 7-8 miles taking out at Middle Coller State Wildlife area; a green bridge marks this river access. For the most part, one can pay lots of attention to the beauty of the rock cliffs and mountains surrounding the uppermost stretches of the Rio Grande. With any luck, we might see some bighorn sheep.

Lots of camping options.

Palisades campground is located on Rt 149 about a 25 min drive west of South Fork. It is on the Rio about 4 miles east of the wagon wheel gap put-in. It’s a really nice campground with drinking water and a bathroom with no running water. Overpriced, but a lovely spot. Last I checked it was $18.00/night with an added fee for more than one vehicle.

Directions to closest National Forest Access road near South Fork: 3 miles east of S Fork take Cty Rd 19 which is on north side of Hwy 160. County Rd 19 ends at T where Cty Rd 15 begins. From this T one can go right or left. If a left is taken follow road for 2.0 miles to Forest Rd #614. This will take you into the Rio Grande National Forest. If a right is taken at T onto Cty Rd 15 go 0.8 miles and take left onto Loveland Pass Rd. Follow Loveland Pass road to top of hill. Take left onto Elkridge Trail. You will pass Berthoud Pass Rd on left. The next right will take you into National Forest. Primitive camping only in these areas at no cost. Be sure to bring your own water supply and shovel or toilet system.

Another camping option is also primitive off of Pool Table Rd on Rt 149. This is about a 20-25 min drive from South Fork. Pool Table Road (Forest Rd # 600) is a National Forest Access Rd. The put-in for the wagon wheel gap section is across from Pool table Rd. on Rt 149.

In addition to camping, there are a number of places to stay in S Fork. I would recommend Foothills Lodge which is somewhat funky, but has suites with kitchens for a reasonable price. There are also RV parks in the area.


I will do more coordinating as it concerns group camping, a potluck dinner etc. once I know the interest level and needs of those who can attend. Paddling again on June 12th is a possibility dependent on interest level.


Contact Elaine Regan to sign up and for more information.

Important CW Cruise Information:
Please remember you are responsible for yourself on the river.  You are also responsible to the group.  Boat within your ability.  Don't take unnecessary risks.  Don't participate in a rescue if you are likely to become another victim.  Cruise Coordinators have the right to deny inclusion on a trip for any reason and they also have the right to request a participant to leave the river for any reason. Conditions change drastically with water level.

Do not show up to a cruise unannounced.  You must contact the cruise leader in advance as trips have participant limits and ability requirements.  If you are not going to make a scheduled event, you MUST let the leader know.  No-shows are inconsiderate.

Cruises and River Weekends are not instructional events.  You should have the skills necessary to safely navigate the section of river to be run. Only current CW members are allowed to participate in CW events.  Please bring your completed liability waiver to give to the leader for each event. Click here to download the waiver.

Some cruises may be above the ability level for some members and varying water levels can have an impact on the difficulty of the run. Please research the water level and run you are interested in doing. You can find some of this information at the River Levels webpage on our website.  Published resources include Colorado Rivers & Creeks 2 and Whitewater of the Southern Rockies.  If you are unsure if your ability matches the run at the predicted flow, discuss your boating resume with the trip leader.

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