Ski the Snow of the Poudre River Basin
by Ben Costello, March 2017
Anyone who has spent time at Mountain Whitewater and Paddler’s Pub may have noticed the motto for Paddler’s Pub: “Ski the Snow, Raft the Rivers, then Turn that Water into Beer!” It is our fun way of looking at the hydrologic cycle here in Colorado. Mountain Whitewater fits into the “Raft the Rivers” part of the motto. Paddler’s Pub facilitates the “Water into Beer” part of the motto, but what about the “Ski the Snow” part? The guide staff at Mountain Whitewater spends time during the winter season skiing and snowboarding the mountains in the Poudre River basin.
Where is the Cache La Poudre River Basin?
Located in North Central Colorado, the Cache La Poudre River basin is part of the larger South Platte River basin. It includes mountains near Cameron Pass on Highway 14 and parts of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Overall, there are around 484 square miles of land that drain into the Poudre River basin.
The vast majority of the water that flows through the Cache La Poudre River comes from snow that melts in the basin. So, the folks that raft with Mountain Whitewater every summer, are floating on the same snow that the guides ski during the winter time. This map, courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey shows where the Poudre River basin is within the State.
Skiing in the Poudre Canyon
The Poudre Canyon area provides some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Fort Collins area. There are a multitude of different trails and peaks suitable for backcountry skiing in the basin that provide for an even greater connection to the river for the guides.
Backcountry skiing and snowboarding provide a great way to have fun, enjoy being in nature and to say in shape for rafting season. It also allows for the guides to have a better picture of how much snow is in the mountains. Understanding that it is an indicator of the water we will get to raft in the spring. What can I say, we just cannot get enough of our beautiful Cache La Poudre River water!
Click here for a video of Guides skiing the South Diamond
Photo and information credit to USGS from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3037/