South Platte River, North Fork - Bailey Canyon

Colorado-US  

Description

Bailey Canyon is a Colorado whitewater classic, if not for its endless class IV rapids through a beautiful canyon, then for its long season brought to you by the burgeoning Denver metropolis.  Although a short natural runoff does exist, most boatable flows are provided by water transports from Lake Dillion to Denver via the Roberts Tunnel.  Bailey is often a stepping stone for aspiring class V boaters.  Its easily portagable rapids make it an ideal spot for a class IV boater to try to step it up on a good day, or play it safe when not feeling it.

2010 ushered in the start of the annual Bailey Fest.  Denver Water has agreed to conditional releases on the North Fork of the South Platte for a weekend in mid August.  Events, food, drinks, and camping are provided for boaters who come to enjoy the increased flows. Ironically, on high water years such as 2014 and 2015, this release may be cancelled because Denver doesn't need the water and legally can't take what it doesn't need.

For those interested in gauge details, there are two gauges above the run, one in Bailey and one Grant (roughly 10 miles above Bailey).  These gauges often show a slight discrepency, even after the seasonal runoff.  Fortunately, the values agree enough that either gauge is sufficiently accurate for the purpose of boating through Bailey Canyon.  If it is late season and it hasn't been raining, expect somewhere on the order of 50 cfs more than the Roberts Tunnel release to be in the canyon.

Bailey Gauge: http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=PLABAICO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

Roberts Tunnel Gauge: http://www.dwr.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/data/detail_graph.aspx?ID=ROBTUNCO&MTYPE=DISCHRG

River Map

Shuttle Map

Statistics

KSC
Class IV+ to V
Current Flow 94.8 CFS
12-15-2017 09:30
Alternative Flow
([NORTH FORK SOUTH PLATTE RIVER AT GRANT])
339.0 CFS
06-03-2015 16:16
Alternative Flow
([ROBERTS TUNNEL AT EAST PORTAL NEAR GRANT])
0.0 CFS
12-16-2017 04:48
Alternative Flow
([NORTH FORK SOUTH PLATTE RIVER AT BAILEY][NORTH FORK SOUTH PLATTE RIVER AT BAILEY])
Visual or Unknown
Recommended Flow Minimum: 200.0
Average: 350.0
Maximum: 1500.0
Typical Season Begins: April
Ends: November
Recommended Use Kayaking: Yes
Rafting: No
Canoeing: No
SUP: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Primary Gauge NORTH FORK SOUTH PLATTE RIVER AT GRANT
Length 10.5 Mile(s)
Gradient FPM
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Supermax Launch Pad

10-09-2010 - 380 cfs

Photo By: Kevin Cripps

Subject: Nick Wigston