The Town Run becomes a bit more rowdy with spring runoff. Two bridges, the Ironhorse railroad bridge and the 5th street bridge, can be serious hazards if the flows are above 2300cfs. For rafts, these are very simple must make moves. The Ironhorse bridge is unique in that the river has a split channel that splits off and goes left of the bridge-Do not float down the left channel from Ironhorse bridge. The channel only encounters the same railroad and another bridge that is much lower in clearance. The 5th st. bridge is also a low clearance bridge around the 2300cfs mark with the far right side of the bridge offering slightly greater clearance for rafts. There are small rolling waves present at high flows under the 5th st. bridge to watch you and your crew’s heads on. The water temperature during early spring is very cold and any swimmers will have to be properly cared for if lacking the proper clothing.
With higher flows there are also some great features that can become quite large downstream of the two bridges. As flows climb toward 3, 4 and 5000cfs there are a series of manmade features along the confluence of Spring, Butcher Knife and Soda Creeks. The largest of these features are C and D hole. These features are both classic hydraulic jumps with a smooth trough and crashing crest. At 5000cfs these holes can easily flip fully loaded rafts given half a chance and are by far the most exciting features on the Run.
After C and D hole boaters will usually end there float by taking out at the city transit center. This is a popular option given it is nearly the only one available with adequate free parking. However landing a your boat in fast moving spring current is not easy and that is what’s required when using this takeout spot. Be careful!
Through beautiful downtown Steamboat Springs, Colorado
THE HOME STRETCH
One of the best things about Steamboat Springs is the fact that the Yampa River flows right through town. With spring flows the Yampa Town Run is a must do for locals and visitors alike looking to enjoy a splashy ride. Multiple access points allow boaters to choose their length of float. Takeout opportunities are multiple but no public boat ramp is yet available. Friends of the Yampa, a local non profit dedicated toward enhancing and protecting the environmental and recreational integrity of the Yampa is actively engaged with involved parties to establish a takeout for the public access.
The Town Run is mostly a class II run for both kayaks and rafts. Minimum boating flows begin at about 500cfs for kayaks and 1000cfs for rafts (possible but boney in slightly lower flows).
For Rafts, the sweetspot is anywhere above a thousand cubic feet per second as seen on the vertical axis on this historical graph May/June 2014 discharge. IMPORTANT: Remember to scout your clearance under the Iron Horse and 5th Street Bridges at flows above 2300cfs.