Big Thompson River Kayaking

Made possible by

Photos

About

Summary

When the dams open, the Big Thompson River roars to life. Kayakers, grab you paddles and get ready to test your meddle with The Big Tommy, a short but technical run.

Written by

James Dziezynski

Distance

0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

27.8 miles

Difficulty

4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

Varies

Seasonality

Spring and Summer

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

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.

Location

Big Thompson River Kayaking

Estes Park, CO,
40.367653, -105.5345

Get Directions