South Platte River

Cheesman Canyon to Strontia Springs Reservoir; Buffalo Creek to confluence

South Platte hotel
South Platte Hotel
The popular resort, top right, was accessible only by train.

Owned and managed by: U.S. Forest Service, Denver Water, Jeffco Open Space and private land owners
Recreation Managers: Denver Water, U.S. Forest Service and Jeffco Open Space
Reservations: No, check with South Platte Ranger District for fees, 303-275-5610
Elevation: 6,400 feet at Deckers
Denver Water Customer Care: 303-893-2444
Pike National Forest Regional Office: 719-545-7837


This stretch of the South Platte River has been a popular fishing spot for decades, earning it Gold Medal Waters status by the Colorado Wildlife Commission. In the 1890s, Stephen Decker built a general store and later a saloon in this area. The South Platte Hotel, located at the confluence of the North Fork of the South Platte, was a popular resort in the early 1900s and was accessible only by train. The confluence is now a popular fishing and kayaking area.

From Cheesman Reservoir (elevation 6,800 feet), the South Platte River descends 6 miles through Cheesman Canyon to Deckers, a world-renowned fly fishing area. The river then bends north for approximately 17 miles to the confluence with the North Fork of the South Platte (elevation 6,100 feet).

The North Fork flows approximately 10 miles east from Buffalo Creek (elevation 6,600 feet) to the confluence. From the confluence, the river flows east to Strontia Springs Reservoir above Waterton Canyon at an elevation of 6,000 feet.

Directions to Deckers

From Denver:

Take U.S. Highway 285 to Pine Junction. Drive south on Jefferson County Road 126 for approximately 25 miles to Douglas County 67 at Deckers.

From Sedalia:

Take U.S. 67 from Sedalia to Sprucewood. Stay on 67 south until you reach pavement at the South Platte River. Go 6 miles south on Douglas County 67 to Deckers

Business Information for Deckers

Flies & Lies — 303-647-2237 
Deckers Country Store/Cabin Rentals — 303-647-2332

Seasonal Information

River and designated parking: Open year-round. 
Camping: Check with South Platte Ranger District.

Operating Hours

Day use area, between Pine Creek Road and Buffalo Creek — sunrise to sunset.
No overnight activities allowed.

Special Events

Permit necessary.

Recreation Opportunities

Overview of available activities


Stream fishing: The fishery is managed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Cheesman Canyon: 3 miles below Cheesman Dam are Gold Medal Waters, catch and release only.

Deckers to confluence: The river winds through private and public lands, but 14 miles of the river are accessible to the public. See PDF document map for public accessible parking areas.

Streamflow information: Trouts Flyfishing and Blue Quill Angler.

mountain biking

Check Jeffco Open Space for directions and maps to bike trails in this area.


Several hiking trails are available along the North Fork and South Platte River. Check Jeffco Open Space for directions and maps to hiking trail system.

Small Water Craft

Portable crafts allowed include kayaks, canoes and inflatable crafts. Kayaks, canoes and inflatable crafts are allowed along the South Platte River. Kayaking is available on the North Fork but canoeing and inflatable crafts are not advised. Note: water craft may pass through private property but are not allowed to stop on private property.

River flows for kayakers




Camp and picnic sites are provided along the South Platte River by the USFS Pike National Forest. Picnic sites are available for day use.