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Promoting safe and sustainable recreation on the Cache la Poudre River

The Cache la Poudre River offers abundant opportunities for a broad spectrum of river users. The scenic river runs from wild to mild, attracting people from around the country. A day of recreation along the Poudre River is a quintessential Northern Colorado activity – especially during the hottest days of the summer.

However, most people do not understand the power of moving water. Although it may appear to be moving slowly, water moves deceptively fast and can exert great amounts of force. Melting snowpacks during the spring increase water flows. Exposure to cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia, an extremely dangerous condition involving the lowering of the body’s “core” temperature that can be lethal.

The multi-pronged Play It Safe on the Poudre program raises awareness about approaches to recreating on the river in safe and sustainable ways. The program  also calls attention to the history of in-river structures that represent hazards to recreation.


Download a River Access and Safety Map Mapa de seguridad del rio en Español

Play It Safe Tips

Wear a life vest

  • Use proper flotation devices
  • Wear shoes
  • Wear a helmet
  • Don’t tie anything to yourself or to your tube/raft/kayak

Safe to Go?

  • Know the weather and water conditions
  • Poudre River water is melted snow – it is always cold!
  • Avoid logs, branches, rocks and debris

Know Where You Are

  • Take a map
  • Plan your take-out location before you get in the river

Float Sober, Float Safe

  • Alcohol and drugs impair judgement

Be Courteous

  • Pack it in; pack it out
  • Share the river

What if you flip?

  • Do not stand in the river – avoid foot entrapment
  • Float on your back with feet pointing down river and toes out of the water
  • Use your arms to paddle to shore

Disfrutar con Cuidado

Utiliza chalecos salvavidas
• Utiliza dispositivos de flotación adecuados
• Usa los zapatos
• Usa un casco
• No ates nada a ti mismo ni a tu tubo.

¿Seguro para ir?
• Conoce el clima y las condiciones del agua.
• Esta agua siempre está fría porque es nieve derretida.
• Evitar troncos, ramas, rocas y escombros

Saber donde estas
• Lleva un mapa
• Planifique su ubicación de salida antes de entrar

Flota Sobrio, Flota Seguro

• El alcohol y las drogas afectan el juicio.

Sér Cortés
• Empaquétalo, y desempaquétalo.
• Comparte el río

¿Qué hacer si se voltea?
• No te pares en el río para evitar el atrapamiento de los pies.
• Flota sobre tu espalda con los pies apuntandos hacia abajo y los dedos del pie afuera del agua.
• Usa tus brazos para remar hasta la orilla.

Play It Safe on the Poudre



•Expand opportunities for safer and more sustainable recreational usage of the Poudre River, while raising awareness about river heritage.


• Reduce river fatalities
• Search & rescue teams fully prepared to effectively assist people in distress
• Instill understanding of river safety skills
• Increase awareness of routes that are better options for river safety
• Increase awareness about the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area & the Poudre Heritage Alliance
• Improve understanding about why river diversion structures exist

Elements of Play It Safe On The Poudre

• Teach locals and visitors safety strategies on the river (educational events, brochures, etc.)
• Install signs along the Poudre River from Gateway Natural Area to College Avenue to inform river users about recommended river access areas and warn of upcoming river hazards
• Develop a loaner life jacket distribution program
• Acquire new, state-of-the art equipment for the Larimer County Dive Rescue Team

The Campaign for Cache

The Poudre Heritage Alliance (PHA) raises awareness about water issues and connects people to their water heritage in the Cache la Poudre River National Heritage Area (CALA) through a variety of programs that promote, engage, and inspire!