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Boulder Creek closed to tubing from Boulder Falls to east Boulder city limit

Posted at 8:51 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 10:10:51-04

BOULDER, Colo. -- A stretch of Boulder Creek is now off-limits to tubers until midday Monday.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle and Boulder Police Chief Greg Testa issued the ban for a stretch of the creek extending from Boulder Falls to the city limits on the east side of Boulder.

The ban applies to all single-chambered air-inflated devices, including inner tubes and air mattresses.

The closure notice was unwelcome, but not unanticipated, by Brett Bryant and John Cooper.

The longtime tubers had already taken one run down the creek and were heading back up for another run, when they saw a city employee posting the notice in Eben Fine Park.

"It was exhilarating," Bryant said, of their first run.

"It was awesome," Cooper said.

"Once we saw the sign that said it was closed to tubing," Bryant added, "we knew we couldn't do it anymore."

Bryant told Denver7 that he understands the need to close the creek.

He said it's all about safety, adding that he ran into someone earlier in the week who had a close call up by the falls.

"He went over the water fall," Bryant said. "He cut his toe, lost a toenail and dislocated his shoulder. His friend, a guy I know, who is an EMT, popped it back into place."

Clear Creek

A tubing ban has been in place along Clear Creek in Jefferson County and Golden since Monday.

Golden Deputy Police Chief Joseph Harvey said Clear Creek was running at 1,260 cubic feet per second at midday Wednesday. He said it was at 1,300 cubic feet per second Wednesday morning.

"We had incredibly high snowpack," he said, "and a cool wet spring," which have delayed the peak run-off.

"We're about three weeks behind schedule from when we would normally be considering whether to close the creek," Harvey told Denver7. "This year, because of that delay, our creek speed, height of water and temperature are impacting the Fourth of July."

Harvey said there have been some close calls in the creek over the last few days.

"Friday, with the assistance of folks from Coors, we were able to pull a lady out of the creek," he said, "and then over the weekend, we responded to roughly five calls for service related to water rescues. Sometimes you have to go into the water to get them. Sometimes you can throw them a rope."

Harvey said Clear Creek is a Type 4 river.

He said the portion that flows through Golden can be dangerous because of all the rocks that were added for the kayak park.

"The rocks have a tendency to pull water in," he said. "The faster the water goes, the more force it has to pull you down into those rock areas."

The Deputy Chief said all the debris rolling downstream, that nobody knows about, adds to the danger.

"Tree branches, rolling rocks, things like that," he said.


Kayakers are still allowed on Clear Creek.

Max Ryan and Ry Sherman were taking advantage of the swift currents in the kayak park.

"It's some of the best kayaking you can find here on the Front Range," Ryan said.

"It feels so good to be able to connect with the water on a hot summer day like this," Sherman told Denver7. "Kayaking is a dangerous sport, especially in high water, but if you're experienced, and out with a good crew, you can try to stay as safe as you can."

Littleton kayaker Drew Larson suited up for a stint in the water Wednesday afternoon.

"You have to respect the power of nature," he said, "because rivers don't stop."

Creek Flows

Deputy Chief Harvey said Clear Creek will remain closed until two or three days after its flow drops below 1,200 cubic feet per second.

Boulder Creek has been flowing between 500 to 650 cubic feet per second for the past several days.

Typically, the threshold for implementing a tubing ban on Boulder Creek is 700 cubic feet per second, but with high runoff and the expected high number of visitors to the creek for the Fourth of July weekend, Sheriff Pelle and Chief Testa determined this use restriction would best protect community members.

Community members are advised to be aware of conditions and be especially cautious with children and pets near creeks and ditches. Anyone who fails to obey the tubing ban may be guilty of a class two petty offense and subject to a fine of up to $50. The ban is in effect until noon on Monday, July 8.

More information on Boulder Creek flow rates can be found at