The Big Tommy run on the Big Thompson River near Estes Park has a split personality. Since it is entirely dependent on a dam release, it can flow as a trickle or rage at high volume. There are class II sections linked to wild class V drops and slides. Even though it is only 1.1 miles long, it runs alongside a road so it is easy to lap. It’s a rocky run with some fast drops, big holes and enough wood debris to get your attention. There are three drops that give the run its class V/V+rating, to only seasoned paddlers should give this run a go.
What Makes It Great
When the water runs high, Big Tommy is challenging but offers clean lines for those bold enough to take it on. It’s a fast mile but it packs in a lot of action in that distance.
Hitting the three big drops without bruising yourself silly is a major accomplishment -- the drops are tight, rocky and ready to churn any paddlers who engage the wrong line.
Who is Going to Love It
Advanced kayakers will get a kick out of the non-stop action, especially during a higher flow.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are no fees to paddle the Big Thompson. Along Hwy 34 go 2.5 miles west of Drake or 8 miles East of Estes Park. You put in a couple of hundred yards down from the handicapped accessible fishermen's pier. You take out about a mile down Hwy 34 from the put in.