Crystal River, South Fork - Devil's Punchbowls



Despite its name, there's nothing evil about these punchbowls.  From the confluence of the forks of the Crystal, follow the South Fork until you reach the quite obvious Punchbowls.  A 25 foot vertical waterfall drops into a pool and then into another 25 foot slide.  The top waterfall is probably the cleanest 25 footer in Colorado, but is marred slightly by less than ideal ingress options.  

There are two options for the put-in.  Either put in slightly upstream of the Punchbowls and run some manky drops above them or put in right at the top of the waterfall.  At our flows, there appeared to be a high probabilty of pitoning one of the upper drops so we opted for putting in just above the top waterfall, which I believe is the most popular option.  To do this, clamor down a path worn into the scree slope to the top of the waterfall.  Roping boats down is recommended.  A partner is almost mandatory at the put-in to avoid a premature launch.  Once you're in the current, you'll have a few seconds before falling off the first 25 footer.  If it's a nice day, expect a crowd of spectators cruising the 4WD roads.  The second drop should be run on the far right to avoid the shallow rocky landing on river left.  The second drop doesn't look that clean but tends to boat smoothly.

At high flows the second pool in between drops will certainly become very boily and make this a higher stakes park and huck.  The recommended flows are based on the gauge on the main stem of the Crystal far downstream and do not reflect the actual flow at the Punchbowls.  The recommended range is just my best guess based on one trip out there and in general, determining ideal flows will require visual confirmation.


Class V
Current Flow 1540.0 CFS
06-06-2023 06:00
Recommended Flow Minimum: 400.0
Average: 600.0
Maximum: 800.0
Typical Season Begins: January
Ends: January
Recommended Use Kayaking: No
Rafting: No
Canoeing: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Length 0.25 Mile(s)
Gradient FPM

Devil's Punchbowls

06-30-2013 - Top drop

Photo By: Jenny B.

Subject: Kevin Cripps