Gore Creek (Lower)
|Stretch:||Vale to Eagle River|
|Difficulty:||Class III to IV|
|Flows:||350 to 800 cfs. USGS Gore Creek near mouth at Minturn gauge|
|Gradient:||87 fpm average|
|Put-in:||Interfaith Chapel in Vale or the Vale Whitewater Park|
|Take-out:||Shoulder of West bound US-70 at confluence with Eagle River|
|Shuttle:||5.4 miles, (8 minutes one-way)|
|Season:||Spring off snowmelt|
Colorado Road Trip 2021: Day 12 Morning
American Whitewater had the flow cut off at 500 cfs. But for the upriver sections the cut off was 1,000 cfs. I was nervous about why this section would have a different cut off. There are a few pipes across the river to duck, are these the reasons to have a high water cutoff rather than suggest portaging on private property around the pipes? I don't know. But 525 cfs was a very pleasant flow, a smidge on the lower side for the in-between but a nice medium feel for the actual class III to IV rapids.
The river begins with meandering through residential and is just class II. As you pass the sanitation center you get your first set of good rapids that are class III to IV (III at 525 cfs). Things mellow out again and you are in residential, and then the river gets along the highway and you get another spurt of class III. More residential comes, this time with the pipe ducks, and then you get the final push to the Eagle River confluence, with a nice class IV rapid just before you cross under the highway.
The run is not wilderness, it is in residential and/or along highway 70. But, it is fun and worth doing. I would especially recommend continuing down through the Eagle River's Dawd Chute which begins immediately below the confluence. That was a real treat to do together and only a smidge over an hour to do both.
- Boogie (II to II+). The boogie is continuous on this run but the bigger rapids happen in spurts that start and end in discrete manners.
- Sanitation District (III to IV-). Just downstream of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District station you get the first set of good rapids. It lasts for about a quarter mile and has two or three fun parts to it. It is all read and run.
- Elliot Road Rapids (III). After more boogie the river gets along the embankment and you get another set of nice rapids, these as I recall were a little easier than the first set.
- Pipe #1: Duck the first pipe far right or far left. This one is the more likely to need a portage, so approach with caution. At 525 cfs we just barely fit on either side.
- Pipe #2: If you cleared the first pipe, this one won't be a problem. We ran down the center of the rapid and ducked.
- Game Control Fence: The fence was open, but if for some reason you run it off normal season, or perhaps if they haven't opened it, it would be a death trap. It is a wire mesh fence… a very unnatural strainer.
- Game Control (IV- to IV). The biggest rapid of the run greets you just downstream of the fence. We started right and ended left, boofing two decent sized holes. Downstream the river bends sharp right and blindly goes under the highway but it is totally fine.
- Last Hurrah (III to III+). One last set of bigger boogie leads you down to take-out or the confluence with the Eagle for the Dawd Chute section.
- Gore Creek confluence. Either takeout above, below, or after Dawd Chute.
Take-out: We paddled through this section, so I am honestly not 100% certain as to where to take-out. From google earth it looks like heading West on I-70 there is a large turnout with a path to the river just before you cross over the Eagle River. Similarly, on US-6 there looks to be an access on river left just downstream of the confluence.
Put-in: The resources that be say the interfaith chapel in Vail is the put-in. This is located in Vail, 4.6 miles West on I-70. Exit 176 and head south on Vail Rd, it is on the right just before the bridge crossing the river. It did not look like it was a big enough parking area for kayakers to bum access off of, so I really do not know if this is doable or not. Alternatively, you could park at the Vail Village Parking garage on Frontage Rd from the same exit, and walk to the Whitewater Park feature at Willow Bridge Rd and gain a quarter mile of boating.
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