The Cache La-Poudre River is one of Northern Colorado’s treasures, running 126 miles long and holding the title for the state’s only nationally designated “Wild & Scenic” river. Even though the course of the river is relatively short, it’s a beloved river by many Coloradans because of the excellent recreational opportunities along its route.
Its source is in the Rocky Mountain National Park, right alongside the famous Continental Divide, and its mouth flows into the South Platte River near Greeley.
The origin of the river’s name is French and translates to “hide the powder” or “cache of powder”. This came about in the 1820s when trappers from France had to hide their gun powder along the river during a blizzard.
Cache La Poudre River Route
The primary source of the Cache La-Poudre River is Poudre Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). It travels a significant portion through the rest of the park, passing locations such as Poudre Falls and the Gateway Natural Area. It continues through the Roosevelt National Forest to Fort Collins, Windsor, and ends at the South Platte River just outside of Greeley.
Colorado Highway 14 follows much of the river’s left side. Named a “Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway”, between Walden and Fort Collins, this road is famous for visitors and locals, alike, looking to enjoy some of Colorado’s beautiful scenery.
Activities on the Cache La Poudre River
Since the Cache La-Poudre is so close to a bigger town like Fort Collins, it’s a trendy area for people looking to enjoy outdoor recreation.
The river is also an excellent place to cool off during the hot summer months. Other activities on the river include various types of boating, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and whitewater rafting within the Poudre Canyon.
Camping – There are both RV and tent sites available along the river and most are on a first come first served basis. For visitors who like to plan, there are four campgrounds on the river that offer reservations. These can be found at the Narrows, Ansel Watrous, Stove Prairie and Mountain Park campgrounds.
Read about the camping near Red Feather Lakes and Cache La Poudre River.
Fishing – Along the river, there are great spots for fishing, with numerous sites to pull off the highway. Some of the best locations for fly fishing is in Poudre Canyon as well as anywhere heading towards Poudre Lake. Fishing the Cache La Poudre can expect to catch brown trout, rainbow trout, cutbow trout and cutthroat trout.
Multi-Use Trails – There are also many trails for hiking and biking in the summer and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing in the winter, making Cache La-Poudre River a year-round destination for activities. Anglers looking for a good place to camp and fish will find many campgrounds off of Highway 14.
Whether you’re looking for a whitewater rafting adventure, excellent fishing spot or just a place to get away from it all, the Cache La Poudre offers it all.
Passes thru: (following river west to east)
Length: 126 miles
- Joe Wright Creek
Tributary to: South Platte River
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