Oh Be Joyful - Oh Be Joyful



If you haven't heard of Oh Be Joyful (OBJ), then (a) let me welcome you to the world of kayaking or (b) please crawl out of the cave you've been living in the for past 20 years.  Oh Be Joyful has become so synonymous with creekboating, that it seems to bring out people to brave its massive features who normally don't even consider running class V creeks.  Perhaps it's the reputation for big and clean drops with easy moves that brings out the hordes.  Or perhaps the stunning location in the high alpine forests just outside of Crested Butte.  Or perhaps its the excellent camping adjacent to the run where you're sure to see a few familiar faces from the boating scene and meet a few new ones.  Or perhaps its the stunning clusters of wildflowers that tend to be in full bloom when the creeks are running.  Or perhaps its the abundant trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and dirt biking that make this excellent place to bring nonboating friends or make it a multisport weekend.  Most likely, it's all of the above.

I would say that OBJ's reputation is both over and under stated.  While I admit that at moderate water levels, the moves are fairly straightforward for a practiced class V creekboater, for someone not familiar with the style of boating or just surviving in class IV, this run will eat them alive.  Tales of epic carnage abound, and any busy weekend, you have a chance to witness it first hand.  I've seen the aftermath of someone bouncing down the last 40 foot slide on his ass.  I've seen people swim multiple slides and drops and crawling out above the 25 foot water with their ounce of strength.  Then there are the stories of broken backs, ankles, and more paddles and boats than anyone could count.  There's a reason this run has developed the nickname "Oh Be Careful."

With that said, boaters who are ready for prime time and in for a treat.  The drops aren't exactly clean, but for their scale and compared to anything else in the state of Colorado, they're quite remarkable.  Although the run is short, laps can be run and/or it can combined with one or all of the other three excellent runs in this area.  If you haven't run anything like this before, than the first look at the creek will be jaw dropping.  Avalanche and the slides below it simply look impossibly large, but after watching a few successful lines, they l ook more doable.  

The upper half of the run contains the vertical drops: a 15 footer, 8 footer, and 25 footer, with a few small ledges and slides in between.  The lower half, starting with Avalanche, contains 3 massive slides.  The last slides in particular are often clogged with wood, but locals and nonlocals tend to be pretty good about clearing a path to always make it runnable.  The character of Avalanche in particular can change significantly depending on the amount of wood present.

There is no gauge for OBJ, but the Slate River gauge can be used as a guide.


Class V
Current Flow 106.0 CFS
07-17-2024 15:00
Recommended Flow Minimum: 500.0
Average: 1000.0
Maximum: 2000.0
Typical Season Begins: May
Ends: July
Recommended Use Kayaking: Yes
Rafting: No
Canoeing: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Length 1.0 Mile(s)
Gradient FPM

Bajillion Words

06-16-2013 -

Subject: Justin Payne