Roaring Fork River

Last updated
Roaring Fork River
Hardwick Bridge.jpg
Hardwick Bridge crossing the Roaring Fork River, between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs
Roaring Fork Colorado basin map.png
Map of the Roaring Fork River
Country United States
State Colorado
Physical characteristics
Source Independence Lake
  location White River National Forest, Pitkin County
  coordinates 39°08′38″N106°34′04″W / 39.14389°N 106.56778°W / 39.14389; -106.56778 [1]
  elevation12,490 ft (3,810 m)
Mouth Colorado River
Glenwood Springs, Garfield County
39°32′57″N107°19′47″W / 39.54917°N 107.32972°W / 39.54917; -107.32972 Coordinates: 39°32′57″N107°19′47″W / 39.54917°N 107.32972°W / 39.54917; -107.32972 [1]
5,718 ft (1,743 m)
Length70 mi (110 km)
Basin size1,453 sq mi (3,760 km2) [2]
  location mouth [2]
  average1,206 cu ft/s (34.2 m3/s) [2]
  minimum180 cu ft/s (5.1 m3/s)
  maximum13,000 cu ft/s (370 m3/s)
Basin features
  left Crystal River
  right Fryingpan River

Roaring Fork River is a tributary of the Colorado River, approximately 70 miles (110 km) long, in west central Colorado in the United States. The river drains a populated and economically vital area of the Colorado Western Slope called the Roaring Fork Valley or Roaring Fork Watershed, which includes the resort city of Aspen and the resorts of Aspen/Snowmass.


The Roaring Fork in winter as seen from a backyard in Woody Creek, Colorado. Roaring Fork from backyard.jpg
The Roaring Fork in winter as seen from a backyard in Woody Creek, Colorado.

It rises in the Sawatch Range in eastern Pitkin County, on the west side of Independence Pass on the continental divide. It flows northwest past Aspen, Woody Creek, and Snowmass. It receives the Fryingpan River at Basalt. 1.5 miles (2 km) below Carbondale, it receives the Crystal River from the south. It joins the Colorado in Glenwood Springs. The entire area that drains into the Roaring Fork River is known as the Roaring Fork Watershed. This area is 1,451 square miles (3,760 km2) and about the same size as the state of Rhode Island. The river flows through canyons along most of its route and is a popular destination for recreation whitewater rafting. The river supplies water through the Sawatch Range to the Twin Lakes Reservoir via the Twin Lakes Tunnel. Roaring Fork Conservancy is the watershed conservation organization for the Roaring Fork River and its tributaries.

The Roaring Fork is a swift, deep, powerful river with very clear water. It is navigable by small craft throughout most of its length to its confluence with the Colorado. The mean annual flow is 1,206 cu ft/s (34.2 m3/s). [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aspen, Colorado</span> City in Colorado, United States

Aspen is a home rule municipality that is the county seat and the most populous municipality of Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 7,004 at the 2020 United States Census. Aspen is in a remote area of the Rocky Mountains' Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains, along the Roaring Fork River at an elevation just below 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level on the Western Slope, 11 miles (18 km) west of the Continental Divide. Aspen is now a part of the Glenwood Springs, CO Micropolitan Statistical Area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glenwood Springs, Colorado</span> City in Colorado, United States

Glenwood Springs is a home rule municipality that is the county seat of Garfield County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 9,963 at the 2020 United States Census. Glenwood Springs is located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and the Colorado River, connecting the Roaring Fork Valley and a series of smaller towns up and down the Colorado River.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fryingpan River</span> River in Eagle and Pitkin counties in Colorado, United States

The Fryingpan River is a tributary of the Roaring Fork River, approximately 42 miles (68 km) long, in Eagle and Pitkin counties in Colorado, United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clackamas River</span> River in Oregon, United States

The Clackamas River is an approximately 83-mile (134 km) tributary of the Willamette River in northwestern Oregon, in the United States. Draining an area of about 940 square miles (2,435 km2), the Clackamas flows through mostly forested and rugged mountainous terrain in its upper reaches, and passes agricultural and urban areas in its lower third. The river rises in eastern Marion County, about 55 miles (89 km) east-southeast of Salem. The headwaters are on the slopes of Olallie Butte in the Mount Hood National Forest, about 10 miles (16 km) north of Mount Jefferson, at an elevation of 4,909 feet (1,496 m) in the Cascade Range. The Clackamas flows briefly north and then flows northwest through the mountains, passing through North Fork Reservoir and Estacada. It then emerges from the mountains southeast of Portland. It joins the Willamette near Oregon City and forms the boundary between Oregon City and Gladstone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lackawanna River</span> River in Pennsylvania, United States

The Lackawanna River is a 42-mile-long (68 km) tributary of the Susquehanna River in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It flows through a region of the northern Pocono Mountains that was once a center of anthracite coal mining in the United States. It starts in north Wayne County, Pennsylvania and ends in east Luzerne County, Pennsylvania in Duryea, Pennsylvania. The lower reaches of the river flow through the urban areas of Scranton, which grew around its banks in the 19th century as an industrial center. Its name comes from a Lenni Lenape word meaning "stream that forks".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feather River</span> River in California, United States

The Feather River is the principal tributary of the Sacramento River, in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. The river's main stem is about 73 miles (117 km) long. Its length to its most distant headwater tributary is just over 210 miles (340 km). The main stem Feather River begins in Lake Oroville, where its four long tributary forks join—the South Fork, Middle Fork, North Fork, and West Branch Feather Rivers. These and other tributaries drain part of the northern Sierra Nevada, and the extreme southern Cascades, as well as a small portion of the Sacramento Valley. The total drainage basin is about 6,200 square miles (16,000 km2), with approximately 3,604 square miles (9,330 km2) above Lake Oroville.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caney Fork River</span> River in Tennessee, United States

The Caney Fork River is a river that flows through central Tennessee in the United States, draining a substantial portion of the southwestern Cumberland Plateau and southeastern Highland Rim regions. It is a major tributary of the Cumberland River, and is part of the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi basins. The river is 143 miles (230 km) long, and its watershed covers 1,771 square miles (4,590 km2) in eleven counties. Monterey, Baxter, Sparta, Smithville, McMinnville, Altamont, Spencer and Gordonsville are among the towns that are at least partially drained by the river.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Snowmass, Colorado</span> Unincorporated community in Colorado, United States

Snowmass is an unincorporated community and a U.S. Post Office located in Pitkin County, Colorado, United States. It is situated in the valley of the Roaring Fork River, near the mouth of Snowmass Creek along State Highway 82 between Aspen and Basalt. It consists largely of a post office, several commercial businesses, and surrounding houses and ranches. The Snowmass Post Office has the ZIP Code 81654.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Independence Pass (Colorado)</span> Highest paved crossing of North Americas Continental Divide

Independence Pass, originally known as Hunter Pass, is a high mountain pass in central Colorado, United States. It is at elevation 12,095 ft (3,687 m) on the Continental Divide in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains. The pass is midway between Aspen and Twin Lakes, on the border between Pitkin and Lake counties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elk Mountains (Colorado)</span> Mountain range in Colorado, United States

The Elk Mountains are a high, rugged mountain range in the Rocky Mountains of west-central Colorado in the United States. The mountains sit on the western side of the Continental Divide, largely in southern Pitkin and northern Gunnison counties, in the area southwest of Aspen, south of the Roaring Fork River valley, and east of the Crystal River. The range sits west of the Sawatch Range and northeast of the West Elk Mountains. Much of the range is located within the White River National Forest and the Gunnison National Forest, as well as the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and Raggeds Wilderness. The Elk Mountains rise nearly 9,000 ft. above the Roaring Fork Valley to the north.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Roaring Fork Valley</span> Place in Colorado, United States

The Roaring Fork Valley is a geographical region in western Colorado in the United States. The Roaring Fork Valley is one of the most affluent regions in Colorado and the U.S. as well as one of the most populous and economically vital areas of the Colorado Western Slope. The Valley is defined by the valley of the Roaring Fork River and its tributaries, including the Crystal and Fryingpan River. It includes the communities of Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs. Mount Sopris and the Roaring Fork River serve as symbols of the Roaring Fork Valley.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Colorado State Highway 82</span> 85-mile road across mountains from Leadville through Aspen to Glenwood Springs

State Highway 82 is an 85.3-mile-long (137.3 km) state highway in the U.S. state of Colorado. Its western half provides the principal transportation artery of the Roaring Fork Valley on the Colorado Western Slope, beginning at Interstate 70 (I-70) and U.S. Highway 6 in Glenwood Springs southeast past Carbondale, Basalt and Aspen. From there it continues up the valley to cross the Continental Divide at Independence Pass. On the Eastern Slope, it follows Lake Creek past some of Colorado's highest mountains to Twin Lakes Reservoir, where it ends at US 24 south of Leadville.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Collegiate Peaks Wilderness</span> Protected area in central Colorado, US

The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness is a 168,000-acre (680 km2) area located in central Colorado between Leadville and Buena Vista to the east and Aspen to the west and Crested Butte to the southwest. Most of the area is in the San Isabel and Gunnison National Forests, with a smaller area in the White River National Forest southeast of Aspen. Most of the area is in northwest Chaffee County with smaller portions in Gunnison, Pitkin, and Lake counties.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mokelumne River</span> River in northern California

The Mokelumne River is a 95-mile (153 km)-long river in northern California in the United States. The river flows west from a rugged portion of the central Sierra Nevada into the Central Valley and ultimately the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, where it empties into the San Joaquin River-Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel. Together with its main tributary, the Cosumnes River, the Mokelumne drains 2,143 square miles (5,550 km2) in parts of five California counties. Measured to its farthest source at the head of the North Fork, the river stretches for 157 miles (253 km).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Luis Obispo Creek</span> River in California, United States

San Luis Obispo Creek is a stream, about 18 miles (29 km) long, in San Luis Obispo County, California. It drains a large coastal watershed that includes the city of San Luis Obispo, emptying into the Pacific Ocean at Avila Beach.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tushar Mountains</span> Mountain range in Utah, United States

The Tushar Mountains are the third-highest mountain range in Utah after the Uinta Mountains and the La Sal Range. Located in the Fishlake National Forest, Delano Peak, 12,174 ft  NAVD 88, is the highest point in both Beaver and Piute counties and has a prominence of 4,689 ft. Delano Peak is named for Columbus Delano (1809–1896), Secretary of the Interior, during the Grant administration. The Tushars receive an ample amount of snow annually even though they are situated within the rainshadow of the Sierra Nevada range in California and the Snake Range located in Nevada.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Fork Clearwater River</span> River in Idaho, United States

The North Fork Clearwater River is a major tributary of the Clearwater River in the U.S. state of Idaho. From its headwaters in the Bitterroot Mountains of eastern Idaho, it flows 135 miles (217 km) westward and is dammed by the Dworshak Dam just above its mouth in north-central Idaho. Draining a rugged watershed of 2,462 square miles (6,380 km2), the river has an average flow of over 5,600 cubic feet per second (160 m3/s), accounting for a third of the discharge from the Clearwater basin. The river drains parts of Clearwater, Shoshone, Latah, and Idaho counties. Most of the watershed is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Some of the fish of the river include westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, and the threatened bull trout. It also has smallmouth bass and a kokanee salmon run, both from Dworshak Reservoir. The North Fork drainage is home to grizzly bears, cougars, deer, moose, black bear, elk, grey wolves, and osprey. The river used to have a large steelhead run before the implementation of Dworshak Dam. The North Fork of the Clearwater is located within the Clearwater National Forest

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Salmon Falls Creek</span> River in Nevada and Idaho, United States

Salmon Falls Creek is a tributary of the Snake River, flowing from northern Nevada into Idaho in the United States. Formed in high mountains at the northern edge of the Great Basin, Salmon Falls Creek flows northwards 121 miles (195 km), draining an arid and mountainous basin of 2,103 square miles (5,450 km2). The Salmon Falls Creek valley served as a trade route between the Native American groups of the Snake River Plain and Great Basin. Today, most of its water is used for irrigation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Course of the Colorado River</span> Route and confluences of the Colorado River in the United States and Mexico

The Colorado River is a major river of the western United States and northwest Mexico in North America. Its headwaters are in the Rocky Mountains where La Poudre Pass Lake is its source. Located in north central Colorado it flows southwest through the Colorado Plateau country of western Colorado, southeastern Utah and northwestern Arizona where it flows through the Grand Canyon. It turns south near Las Vegas, Nevada, forming the Arizona–Nevada border in Lake Mead and the Arizona–California border a few miles below Davis Dam between Laughlin, Nevada and Needles, California before entering Mexico in the Colorado Desert. Most of its waters are diverted into the Imperial Valley of Southern California. In Mexico its course forms the boundary between Sonora and Baja California before entering the Gulf of California. This article describes most of the major features along the river.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cottonwood Creek (Sacramento River tributary)</span> River in California, United States

Cottonwood Creek is a major stream and tributary of the Sacramento River in Northern California. About 68 miles (109 km) long measured to its uppermost tributaries, the creek drains a large rural area bounded by the crest of the Coast Ranges, traversing the northwestern Sacramento Valley before emptying into the Sacramento River near the town of Cottonwood. For its entire length, it defines the boundary of Shasta and Tehama counties. Because Cottonwood Creek is the largest undammed tributary of the Sacramento River, it is known for its Chinook salmon and steelhead runs.


  1. 1 2 "Roaring Fork River". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior . Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "USGS Gage #09085000 on the Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs, CO" (PDF). National Water Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. 1905–2011. Retrieved 2012-02-27.