The Glenwood Wave is probably the best place to surf in Colorado. It’s an artificial wave that is surfable at basically any flow, but things change significantly based on flow since the flow can vary from around 2,000 cfs to 20,000 cfs. Things look a little something like this:
Under 2,500 CFS- Low, and the most common level from July through April, though things rarely get lower than 1,200 cfs. You can get some surfing in but it’s not as high performance as with higher water.
2,500-5,000 CFS- Low/Medium. Things are shaping up a little better and the boat chute surfs better. The main feature is wider, more powerful, and holds a better shape. Eddy service is still pretty good. Water starts spilling over two concrete blocks in center-right around 3,500 cfs. 3,500 is also prime for the south canyon wave, which is about 3 miles downstream if you want to escape the crowds.
5,000-10,000 CFS- Medium/high. The boat chute wave continues to widen and starts to surf really well. The main feature also starts to wave out as things get higher. Eddy access is possible until 6,000 or so, but after that you’re hiking back up.
10,000- 15,000 CFS- High. This is in the range of most years’ peak flows, and the park is really kicking at this point. One of the best big river surf waves in the country. Hikes can get significant if you don’t get to shore quickly.
15,000-20,000 CFS- Very High. Things are getting more and more dynamic at these flows. The wave greens out some around 15,000 cfs, but as it gets closer to 18,000 cfs the wave starts to break more consistently.
Over 20,000 CFS- Huge. Doesn’t happen very often. Watch out for debris (think trees, not just logs) coming through the park – a spotter isn’t a bad idea.
For the most part bigger is better, but you’ll find something here at most flows that you can surf. You can also find a webcam here to check out the wave.
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Logistics are pretty simple; park at the whitewater park. At higher flows you may get washed down past the Midland Ave bridge. Things can be busy at high water; here are the current parking regulations:
- The Park is still under construction and parking is very limited.
- Overflow parking is available 1/3 mile up Midland Avenue in the RFTA Lot. (Take first right & park in the large lot near the brick building.)
- No parking is allowed on Midland Avenue! You may be ticketed!
- Please do not park in a manner that impedes traffic.
- Overnight camping is not permitted in the immediate area. Please contact Glenwood Canyon Kayak ¼ mile up Midland Avenue (first left) for information about camping or parking – (970-928-9949).
- Additional camping information is available from the US Forest Service (970-945-2521) or BLM (970-947-2800) Monday-Friday.
- Helmets and Personal Flotation Devices are required at all times.