The Slate River is enjoyed by many types of users including ranchers, recreationalists, private landowners, and, of course, the Great Blue Herons! Over the past three decades, the Crested Butte Land Trust has protected the wildlife habitats, ranching heritage, and public access to this beautiful waterway.
Our first project back in 1991 was protecting the Confluence Parcel which you can see as you cross the Slate River bridge as Gothic Rd leaves Crested Butte and heads up the mountain. More recently in 2023, we worked with local land owners to protect land surrounding the Slate River between the Town of Crested Butte and the Riverland neighborhood. From start to finish, we are proud of the partnerships, volunteer hours, and annual monitoring efforts that have gone into ensuring the Slate River will remain available for all to enjoy for generations.
Please review and follow the information below to help everyone has a good time on and around this beautiful resource.
Oh-Be-Joyful Campground (put-in), Gunsight Bridge (put-in/take-out), River Flats (put-in/take-out), Slate River Boat Launch (put-in/take-out)
Voluntary no-float from March 15-July 15
Slate River Boat Launch (put-in), Skyland Bridge (take-out)
Make sure you are comfortable with conditions, and float at your own risk. The Slate River is snow-melt driven. Peak flows can lead to dangerous conditions, and by mid summer, the water level becomes too low to float, making for an unenjoyable experience. It is your responsibility to check conditions before heading out. It’s suggested to talk to local outfitter personnel about the current conditions. Click here for more information on the Slate River and its current flow levels.
Avoid becoming a statistic by wearing your Personal Floatation Device (PFD)! Dangerous obstacles such as strong currents, rocks, and log jams can be hazardous at both high and low flows. Be prepared for changing weather and river conditions as well as long stretches through private land and without a restroom. Tubing is not recommended.
You will encounter river fencing along the way. We share this area with local ranchers and their cattle, and fences are used to keep cows in the right places during grazing seasons. River fences are made of white PVC pipes and are floater-friendly options when fences cross rivers. When you encounter a river fence, hold tight and float underneath; it is designed for this purpose! If you encounter any cows near the river, show them the same respect you would any other user.
March 15 through July 15
The Slate River wetlands provides a fragile refuge for resident and migratory wildlife, including Great Blue Heron, elk, and waterfowl. The stretch of river from Gunsight Bridge to the Slate River Boat Launch has a recommended no-float period from March 15-July 15 due to the critical nesting period of the Great Blue Heron. After July 15, if the conditions allow for floating, float respectfully and quietly in small groups between these locations.
Please note that during this voluntary no-float period, or when the river is too low to float, recreationists are still permitted to float on the public lands administered by the BLM, including from Oh-Be-Joyful Campground to River Flats.
In partnership with the Town of Crested Butte, the Land Trust formed the Slate River Working Group (SRWG) in 2018 to address increasing concerns around resource protection, wildlife impacts, and private property rights along the Slate River. This collaborate group effort combines the interests of land managers, local businesses, guide outfitters, paddling enthusiastes, and private homeowners. The SRWG created the informational pamphlet below and works annualy to identify shared values and solutions to competing desires for the area.
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