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We hope you'll find this guide to accessing the Eagle River helpful.   The individual sections are set up starting at the confluence of the Eagle with the Colorado River moving from West to East as follows. Click the link to go directly to that section of the river.

Confluence to Gypsum

Gypsum to Eagle

Eagle to Wolcott

Wolcott to Edwards

Minturn to Source 

Confluence to Gypsum

Description:  5.7 miles accessed from the frontage road paralleling I-70 on the south side of the freeway.

Stream Characteristics:  Meandering watercourse.  Not much drop so river flows quite gently to its confluence with the Colorado at Dotsero.  Water quality can be impacted by off-color flows from Gypsum Creek and other smaller tributary streams. River is best fished by raft when stream is dropping following runoff.  Much of this section is private and thus not accessible for wade fishing.

Trout Populations:  Some large browns and fewer rainbows scattered throughout the reaches.

Side Trip:  Drive the lower Colorado River Road toward Burns.  Many pull-offs allow access to the main river.

Dotsero to Gypsum Section of the Eagle River





Location Descriptions  Odometer readings are West to East beginning at the red dot. Readings in parentheses are East to West from Valley Road in Gypsum.

0.  0 miles. (5.7) Unmarked dirt road to confluence of Eagle and Colorado Rivers.
1.  2.5 miles (3.7). Private access road.  Permission required.
2.  3.1 miles (2.6). Posted jeep access road.  Permission required.
3.  3.5 miles (2.2). Public access. (Raft put-in or take-out).
4.  3.6 miles (2.1). Public access.
5.  3.9 miles (1.8). Public access.
6.  4.1 miles (1.6). Public access.
7.  4.4 miles (1.3). Campground and public access.
8.  4.7 miles (1.0). Begin private subdivision - Eagle River Estates.  Access possible with permission.
9.  5.7 miles (.0). Valley Road in Gypsum.  End of this map.  Beginning of the Gypsum to Eagle section.

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Gypsum to Eagle

Description:  7.3 miles of river best accessed from I-70 heading east from Gypsum.  If coming from Denver, first drive to Gypsum and then head back east on the freeway.  U.S. Highway 6 which passes along the opposite (south) side of the river is virtually all private.

Important Note: Completed in the fall of 2009, a tall deer fence has been constructed along the entire public section of the South side of this stretch of river from Gypsum to the upstream private water.  All previously usable parking areas along the freeway have been eliminated.

Use the Gypsum roundabout to access the Gypsum ponds recreation area parking spots.

Stream Characteristics:  Relatively gentle flows.  Best fished in runoff periods by raft. Most of the water is private with the exceptions noted in green. 

Trout Populations:  Some very large rainbows inhabit this stretch of river. Browns are also present and will dominate some sections.  It can be excellent fishing partially due to the large amount of private water which acts as a hatchery for the balance of the river.  

Side Trips:  Drive up main Brush Creek to Sylvan Lake.  Try the East Brush Creek state wildlife fishing areas.

Location Descriptions  Odometer readings are West to East beginning at the red dot. Readings in parentheses are East to West from Eby Road in Eagle.

1.   0.0 miles (7.3) Dirt road to Gypsum Ponds recreation area is located just prior to entering the I-70 on-ramp from the south side of the freeway.  Public fishing is OK throughout the recreation area - both in the river and on the ponds. 
2.  1.8 miles (5.7) Dirt pull-off from the freeway - locally known as "The Springs". The sign says Gypsum Ponds.
3.  2.5 miles (4.8). Last public access until Eagle. Just pull off the freeway and park. Fishing is all downstream.  Upstream is private until Eagle.
4.  7.3 miles (0.0). After exiting the freeway at the town of Eagle, turn right on Eby Road and immediately right again on the frontage road.  Drive down to the rest area.  Fish up or downstream.
5.  .4 miles downstream past the rest area is the Eagle County Fairgrounds which is fishable.
6.  .2 miles further downstream on this road turn left and park at the Eagle River Park.  Follow improved public trail downstream.  Stay on the north side of the river.

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Eagle to Wolcott

Description:  9.7 miles accessed from U.S. Highway 6.  This is the most popular and productive stretch of the stream.  The mileages shown begin at the junction of Eby Road and U.S. 6 in the town of Eagle. (Eby Road is the road you turn off upon when exiting the freeway at the town.)

Stream Characteristics:  Wonderfully diverse conditions.  The three major named rapids  of the Eagle (Trestle, I-70, and Dead Cow) are here.  Also long pools, pocket water, riffles, and eddies. Virtually every type of water can be found.  This entire section can be heavily impacted by thunderstorms or any runoff from Alkali and Milk Creeks which enter the river nearer to Wolcott.

Trout Populations:   Excellent numbers and sizes of rainbows dominate this water.  Browns are next most populous and you will encounter an occasional cutthroat, large brookie, or whitefish.

Side Trips:  Try Highway 131 to State Bridge and the middle Colorado - or the lower Piney River.

Location Descriptions  Odometer readings are West to East beginning at the red dot. Readings in parentheses are East to West from the Highway 131 junction in Wolcott.

1.  (Eliminated in summer of 2006). 7 miles (9.0) The first .6 miles of river from the starting point are private.  At .7 miles you will have crossed a bridge on the Eagle.  Pull off immediately for gated access to the next 1.5 miles of upstream fishing on the north side of the river. The water upstream from this spot is lease by the DOW.  Respect access points and do not fish on the south side of the river.
2.  (Eliminated in 1998)1.5 miles (8.2) The next marked public access point.
3.  (Eliminated in summer of 2006). 1.7 miles (8.0). The next marked public access point. (the Meadow Hole)  There's a short stretch of private water a couple of tenths upstream from here. (Dowlings)
4.  (Eliminated in summer of 2006). 1.9 miles (7.8). Next marked public access point.
5.  2.7 miles (7.0). Ditto as above.
6.  3.2 miles (6.5). Begin start of private property.
7.  4.5 miles (5.2). End of private stretch.
8.  4.7 miles (5.0). Begin series of public pull-offs.
9.  5.3 miles (4.4). Dead Cow rapids.
10. 6.1 miles (3.6). Private water both sides begins.  The old Horn Ranch, now Lindholm.
11. 7.2 miles (2.5). Private Mott property.
12. 7.6 miles (2.1). I-70 rapids. Public fishing around the freeway overpass. Private across the river upstream for roughly one mile and private on the highway side for a half mile.
13. 8.3 miles (1.4). Climbing Rock park.  Big raft put-in/take-out area.  Heavily fished from here upstream to Wolcott.  Both sides of river fishable until reaching private property on the north side of the river near Wolcott. (A portion of the south side of the river upstream of Climbing Rock has now been posted as off limits by the Vail Rod & Gun Club.)
14. 9.7 miles (0.0). Town of Wolcott.  Fishable downstream on the south side of the Highway 131 bridge.  Upstream is private for .8 miles.

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Wolcott to Edwards

Description:  6.9 miles best accessed from U.S. Highway 6. Significant stretches of private water here primarily on the Jouflas Ranch and the Eagle Springs golf club plus the Eaton Ranch near Edwards. The Edwards "lakes" provide excellent float fishing immediately after runoff is finished. Public water is primarily on the Hwy 6 side of the stream.

Stream Characteristics:  Quite diverse conditions. Long flats near Edwards followed by a steep drop and quick paced flows through the balance of the water to Wolcott.

Trout Populations:   Primarily rainbow water, although some of the longer, flatter upper pool areas are dominated by browns. Good populations exist and in good sizes although fishing pressures can be extreme, particularly at the Wolcott public access.

Location Descriptions  Odometer readings are West to East beginning at the right edge of the image (Wolcott). Readings in parentheses are East to West from the stoplight in Edwards.

1.   .8 miles (6.1) The first .8 miles of river from the starting point are private (Jouflas Ranch). A small public access point allows entry to a large pool and some excellent riffle water. Fishing pressure can be extreme here in the Wolcott area.
2.  .9 miles (6.0) Begin the Eagle Springs private golf course section.
3.  2.6 miles (4.3). A short section of very heavily fished water primarily below the I-70 bridge.
4.  2.9 miles (4.0). Begin another short section of Jouflas private water.
5.  3.2 miles (3.7). The DOW Squaw Creek parcel of public access begins.
6.  4.0 miles (2.9). Another short section of private water (the Cordillera section).
7.  4.2 miles (2.7). Begin another section of public Squaw Creek parcel water. This entire red colored property has now been privatized by the owners of Cordillera.

8.  4.8 miles (2.1). Hillcrest road over the Eagle. Above this bridge is the Edwards treatment plant which is the primary put-in point for rafts floating this section.
9.   6.0 miles (.9). Cross Lake Creek. No public access to Lake Creek or the Edwards "lakes".
10. 6.9 miles (0). The stoplight on Highway 6 in Edwards.

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Minturn to Source

Description:  . Mileage's start directly beneath the I-70 overpass at the Dowd Junction turnoff to highway 6 & 24 leading to Minturn & Leadville.

Stream Characteristics: Very steep section of river. Much of it inaccessible due to closures at the mine site at Gilman. Above the confluence with Homestake Creek the river is hikable along existing railroad tracks upstream and downstream from Pando or upstream from Red Cliff.

Trout Populations:   In the "Dark Territory" canyon below Gilman through and including Dowd Junction trout populations are sparse. Cleanup of the mine tailings has improved conditions somewhat, but species are limited to smaller brookies and similar sized browns. Above the mine area Homestake Creek and the Upper Eagle both hold good populations of smaller sized fish with browns and brooks predominating.

Side Trips:  Gore Creek is a major tributary of the Eagle and offers gold medal fishing upstream through Vail from its confluence with the Eagle at Dowd Junction.

Location Descriptions  

1. 1.7 miles to town limits of Minturn.
2. 4.9 miles to bridge over eagle before heading up Battle Mountain Pass.
3. 10.2 miles to bridge at turn off to red cliff .

4. Continuing South from the Junction of the Eagle River at Red Cliff, Homestake Creek is accessible for several miles.  The Eagle River is rejoined near the railroad site called Pando and also through the Camp Hale area.

5.  An interesting hiking trip is to either drive to Red Cliff and walk up the railroad tracks to Pando or do it in the opposite direction.  There are good populations of smaller brown & rainbow trout through this section.  Take water and food.  There's nothing commercial available along this stretch.

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Maps for individual sections are not drawn to scale although the mileages shown will be fairly accurate.  Click here for a hatch guide to this stream.

Orv Petersen
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Updated: 06/26/20