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Cache La Poudre River

Cache la Poudre River
Cache La Poudre River as it flows through Fort Collins, Colorado.
Country United States
State Colorado
 - left North Fork Cache la Poudre River
 - right South Fork Cache la Poudre River
Cities Fort Collins, Greeley
Source Rocky Mountains
 - location Rocky Mountain National Park
 - elevation 10,755 ft (3,278 m) [1]
 - coordinates  [2]
Mouth South Platte River
 - location Near Greeley
 - elevation 4,600 ft (1,402 m) [1]
 - coordinates  [2]
Length 126 mi (203 km) [3]
Discharge for Fort Collins
 - average 162 cu ft/s (4.6 m3/s) [4]
 - max 6,080 cu ft/s (172.2 m3/s)
 - min 0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
Rafters on the Poudre River near the Grey Rock trailhead
View of the Poudre River from the Big South trail

The Cache la Poudre River (sometimes called the Poudre River or the Poudre) is in the state of Colorado in the United States.

Its headwaters are in the Front Range in Larimer County, in the northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park. The river descends eastward in the mountains through the Roosevelt National Forest in Poudre Canyon. It emerges from the foothills north of the city of Fort Collins.

It flows eastward across the plains, passing north of the city of Greeley, and flows into the South Platte River approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Greeley.

The name of the river means "Hide the powder" in French. It refers to an incident in the 1820s when French trappers, caught by a snowstorm, were forced to bury part of their gunpowder along the banks of the river.

The river is a popular summer destination for fly fishing, whitewater rafting, tubing, and kayaking in the Poudre Canyon. The river has been substantially populated since the 1930s by year-round residences. While a popular summer destination, the area has residential communities and churches that provide a year-round presence in the rural area. The fish in the Cache La Poudre River include: Rainbow trout and brown trout .[5]

The river is subject to sudden and devastating floods which often impact nearby communities. A flood in 1864 destroyed the military post, Camp Collins, located near the river at La Porte. The military relocated the camp and renamed it Fort Collins. Although no fort was ever built, the current city of Fort Collins was established and continues to battle the periodic flooding of the Cache La Poudre.[6]


  • Trout fishing 1
  • Glade Reservoir Controversy 2
  • National Heritage Area 3
  • National Wild and Scenic Rivers Designation 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Trout fishing

From its headwaters downstream, through the city of Fort Collins, the Cache la Poudre River contains abundant populations of self-sustaining wild trout. The vast majority of trout that live within the river system are Brown Trout. The community of Fort Collins contains devoted Poudre River Anglers, who seek brown trout of all size, ranging from juvenile trout all the way up to piscivorous and predominantly nocturnal five to eight pound trout. Anglers pursue these trout most actively in the guise of a fly fisher and dozens, if not hundreds, of local fly patterns have been developed purely for use on the Poudre.

Many locals consider the Cache la Poudre River to be the life blood of the Fort Collins community. Yet, water rights run deep in the community's history and water ownership for uses such as irrigation, drinking and industry create unstable flow environments, greatly impacting the abundance of wildlife in and around the river. As a result, several conservation organizations have been formed in an effort to protect and enhance the natural state of the river. The heavy pressure from the rafting community and related tourism has tended to negatively impact the wildlife along the river corridor.

Anglers seeking success on the Cache la Poudre River can find it in all seasons, as water remains open in certain areas year-round. Fishers in the winter often pursue skittish trout with flies the size of a pinhead at distances of up to forty feet. In the fall, Brown Trout spawn and in the spring, so do the Rainbow Trout, making for aggressive and active fish that are more than willing to take a fly, dressed of fur and feather and will fight the angler well. Spring, Summertime and Fall mark the highest amounts of anglers on the stream, but enough public water exists that one may always find solitude if he or she so desires it.

Because of increasing fishing and rafting pressures on a finite resource, special regulations have been designated for certain stretches of the Poudre by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. These regulations include the use of flies and lures only and strict catch and release designations. This ensures that trout populations are left to thrive naturally and that fish who are caught for sport are released, unharmed, to live on for future generations. Special regulation waters include, The Indian Meadows Section, The Hatchery Section and a small tailwater stretch of the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River, which flows from Seamen Reservoir to the main fork of the Poudre. As the Cache la Poudre leaves the canyon for the valley to flow through Fort Collins the water quality decreases significantly. Although trout still live in the lower Cache la Poudre, the population is increasingly diminished due to marginal water flows and water quality, both of which greatly hinder self-sustained trout reproduction in the lower Poudre. Because of this, all fishermen whether bait or artificial should release their catch in town in order to make sure the fishery on the lower Cache la Poudre will remain for years to come.

Many believe that with the right combination of flow, habitat and regulation, that the Cache la Poudre River can become a world-class trout fishery. Furthermore, the Cache la Poudre River has and will continue to support tremendous fly fishing in a wild and beautiful setting.

Glade Reservoir Controversy

A project has been proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservation District. It includes several water supply projects, including the Glade Reservoir, which would supply 40,000 acre feet (49,000,000 m3) of water annually to 15 communities in Northern Colorado. Glade Reservoir would be filled by a diversion from the Cache la Poudre River and would store that water for use by these communities. The project has been studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 2005, resulting in a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released in September, 2008.[7] Due to the number and complexity of significant comments received during the public comment period,[8] the COE determined that additional analysis would be required before a decision on whether to approve or deny the permit can be made. They plan to release a supplemental DEIS in late 2013, delaying construction of the project—if approved.

To supply 40,000 acre feet (49,000,000 m3) of water from Glade Reservoir, significant quantities of water would be diverted from the Poudre River above the city of Fort Collins, Colorado. Most diversions would occur during the peak snow melt runoff in May and June. Essentially all the water that is diverted (and pumped) into the off-stream Glade Reservoir would be released back to the river at a later time. But these releases into the Poudre from Glade would be entirely offset by water that would normally be released from Horsetooth Reservoir into the Poudre, also upstream of Fort Collins. This Horsetooth water, originating from Colorado's west slope, would be piped to most of the NISP subscriber communities outside the Poudre basin instead of going to agricultural users downstream on the Poudre River and South Platte River. According to the first DEIS, the net diversion from the Poudre would represent anywhere from 26 to 71% of the flow as measured in downtown Fort Collins.[7] These flow reductions are in addition to existing diversions that have removed approximately 50-60% of the river's water since European settlement began in the valley.

National Heritage Area

The Cache La Poudre River Corridor National Heritage Area includes the 100-year flood plain of the river from its emergence from the mountains to its confluence with the South Platte River.[9]

National Wild and Scenic Rivers Designation

On October 30, 1986, 76 miles of the Cache la Poudre River were designated as a Wild and Scenic, under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The designation spans from the headwaters of the river at Cache la Poudre Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, downstream along the south fork of the river. 30 miles are classified as wild, and 46 miles are classified as recreational.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cache la Poudre River, USGS GNIS.
  3. ^ Cache la Poudre River, The Columbia Gazetteer of North America. 2000.
  4. ^ Water Data Report, Colorado 2003, from Water Resources Data Colorado Water Year 2003, USGS.
  5. ^ Poudre River Trail Corridor, Inc. "Habitat & Wildlife on the Poudre River". Poudre River trail Corridor. Poudre River Trail Corridor, Inc. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Corps of Engineers original DEIS
  8. ^ Corps of Engineers news release regarding supplemental DEIS
  9. ^ "Cache La Poudre River Corridor, Colorado". National Park Service. Retrieved 19 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "Cache La Poudre River, Colorado". National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 

External links

  • Poudre River Wiki
  • National Park Service: Cache La Poudre River
  • Ronald Reagan 1985 address to Congress requesting wilderness designation of the river.
  • Poudre River Trail Corridor
  • Greyrock Trail
  • Real-Time Flow Data
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