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Drainages: Grades: Keyword:
River: Poudre Grade: IV-V
Section: Poudre Narrows Author: Evan J. Stafford
Put In: Narrows Campground Photographer: Brad Teets
Take Out: Steven's Gultch Nearby Town: Fort Collins

Poudre Narrows, IV-V

By: Evan J. Stafford
Photographer: Brad Teets

The Narrows section of the Poudre is the Fort Collins after work special. The local favorite. Period. It is visually spectacular, with 100+ foot red granite cliffs rising and framing the view from river level. And with a few hair raising drops, some classic class IV boogie, numerous put-in options and a wide range of runnable flows, the Narrows is truly a great run.


From the Narrows campground it is a fast class II/III float to the top of the Upper Narrows proper. These drops come in fast succession, especially at higher flows and setting safety below them is always a good idea. The action begins with Super Collider, a steep and sticky ledge-hole, backed up by a rectangular pin-rock. Run the ledge far left and stay left, digging deep to avoid the rectangle rock. The run-out to Super Collider is not too challenging, but it can be fast and shallow so keep your nose up. Next is Cabbage Shredder, a straight forward class IV rapid that can be entered from either side (the right side is more challenging for those in the market).

Whiteline left line Frenchy

Then you are confronted with Whiteline, a powerful 50 yard constriction. This rapid has gone through some changes as of late, though the line has remained relatively the same. Enter on the right, but steer clear of the cliff river right. Move to the left to avoid the sticky hole in the middle of the drop. Move back to the right, take three hard strokes, take a big boof stroke right down the center over the final drop (which is now an 8 ft. waterfall) and try to stay upright through the run-out. I've rehearsed that line many a times in the eddy above this drop. A "sneak" is available consisting of a solid move to the left of the tooth rock in the last drop. There is an eddy on the left above this move that makes the set-up a bit easier, but not if you're going for the meat.

Whiteline right line Evan

A few corners and you're safely into the Middle Narrows. Middles begins with a tough class IV+ drop called Sportscar Corner. Putting in at the top of this drop is a popular option, especially if you're not feeling up to the upper section (although parking is limited). Sportscar has some ugly pin potential, so be careful as you weave your way through. My personal favorite line through this rapid begins on the far right and drops through a series of three small chutes. This line is not too challenging, but it offers many more chances of carnage for the uninitiated (read: many new class IV+ boaters first pin experiences have I been a witness to, not to mention the time I cracked my head real good at low water… I was lucky to be conscious).

Petey In Sports Car Rapid

Some great boogie water leads to Green Bridge rapid. Green Bridge is home to the Poudre Groove Tube. This rapid has a straight forward line down the right. But to me the groove tube is where it's at. Start in the center and drop into the curler going left and ride the tube. Yeehaw! Once at around 3ft. on the gauge I went very deep into the tube in a playboat. I went so deep that I felt my boat scraping along the bottom of the tube (the riverbed), before I was launched out of the hole in an airborne bow squirt! Have fun with it. Remember to hit the cool mini boof move on the run out to Green Bridge on the left.

Author making the lowers boof

Soon you are approaching Lower Narrows, a long class V drop that gets very gnar, gnar at higher water levels. You know you're there when you cross under the highway and things start to look quite steep. There is a fantastic boof move to enter this rapid at levels up to 2.5 on the gauge. There are numerous lines down this rapid, but the most popular lines at lower flow tend to start on the right, move to the left after the first drop and then move back to the right for the remainder. At higher flows things happen very quickly and your lucky if you're on line. The line stays relatively the same though as the water comes up, except there tends to develop a rather nasty hole towards the bottom on the right. The left line at the bottom then becomes preferred, but make sure to boof through the slot at the end because it's definitely shallow in there.

TG boof sequence: photo Scott McCorvey

The Lower Narrows, and in fact the entire section can be run down to very low and bony flows. If you're jonseing in the shoulder seasons and you are stuck in Fort Collins, this is usually the place to go. There are also two fairly good play spots on this run. In the boogie water following Sportscar rapid there is a nice one time hole that is in there between 1.5-2.5 on the pineview gauge. At slightly higher flows there is a nice wave hole with eddy service just after you cross under the bridge above Lowers.

Peaches (Georgia) in Whiteline