Colorado Surf Road Trip

Glenwood Camping
Not a bad campsite with the Glenwood Wave in the background

It’s high water season in Colorado, with a lot of rivers and creeks just off their peak flows of the year, but with some more snow left to melt high on the mountains. I found myself with a few days off of work and a hankering for a road trip, so hit the road I did.


The first destination was probably the most obvious: Glenwood. Flows were solid in the high teens, and after spending a lot of time in low flow Denver, I wanted some big water. And big water I got. Catching the wave is exhausting, since you need to drop into it from above at high flows. And it was greening out occasionally, dumping off any hapless surfer who was trying to catch it. I was often, though not always, that hapless surfer. I spent most of a day parked at the wave and going back and forth between sessions in the water and in my camp chair, reading a book. My third session was a bust – my arms were done. So then I retired to an excellent campsite and a great perch for a hammock.

The next day I surfed Glenwood again, with similar results – a few great rides, a few missed rides, and a few mediocre waves. Then I headed through Aspen and over Independence Pass to Buena Vista.

Buena Vista

Though Pocket Wave was looking pretty good in BV, I ended up spending most of my time downriver paddleboarding Milk Run, which was a worthwhile change of pace and a nice way to spend time with some of my non-surfing river friends. Again, the camping was excellent.

What’s a hammock without a view of the water?


After a couple days heading downriver, it was time to head downhill to Denver. I bailed out of Buena Vista early on Sunday to avoid the holiday weekend crowds, and I was able to catch Miracle Wave and Bennihanna’s at about 1100 cfs. I was under-gunned for Miracle; I should have brought the paddleboard, and had some trouble catching it on the 6′ Poquito. Benni’s was fun though, and the standard weekend crowd was developing on a day warm enough for board shorts.

It’s gratifying to be able to piece together a legitimate surfing roadtrip in a landlocked state, and with as much free BLM and Forest Service camping is scattered around the state, to be able to do it on the cheap. Now I’ll just need to start saving a few vacation days for next year’s high-water season.