The Big Thompson River is about 78 miles long and originates in the Rocky Mountains within the Forest Canyon. Big Thompson, or “The Big T,” as it’s nicknamed, is an easy river to follow as it goes along Highway 34, right beside higher populated areas like Loveland.
Big Thompson River Route
The Big Thompson River begins in the Forest Canyon, inside the Rocky Mountains. It flows west towards Moraine Park inside Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, continuing along the path of Highway 34 all the way to Loveland. It keeps going west until it merges with the South Platte River south of Greeley.
Activities on the Big Thompson River
The number one activity on the Big Thompson is fishing, as there are plenty of great spots to cast a line in the headwaters. However, due to its high elevation, it’s good to save the trip to this river for the summer.
Anything downriver from Forest Canyon is excellent for catching rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout. Some of the favored spots to cast a line in “The Big T” include just south of Estes, in Moraine Park as well as the many public access spots along Highway 34.
“The Big Tommy” run, near Estes Park, is a 1.1 mile-long section of the river that experienced kayakers like to venture to during the summer. The majority of the Big Thompson is rough waters, but this small area is said to be mostly navigable.
Experienced rafters will also enjoy the almost 8-mile section of the Big Thompson in Larimer County. This section isn’t for beginners, as the waters are rated Class III-Class V, promising a good workout for all who attempt to raft or kayak this area.
Length: 78 miles
- North Fork Big Thompson River
- Little Thompson River
Tributary to: South Platte River