Clear Creek runs through the heart of Golden, offering scenic beauty, recreation, and a valuable natural resource. Over recent years, the number of visitors who come to Golden to enjoy tubing on Clear Creek has increased dramatically. Many visitors and residents also enjoy kayaking at the Clear Creek Whitewater Park, and cycling and walking on Clear Creek Trail. Golden strives to provide an enjoyable and safe experience for all. Please help us to protect this amazing resource and ensure everyone has an enjoyable experience.
Visit Golden and the City of Golden DO NOT rent tubing or kayak equipment, or manage an online reservation system for tubing. If you need to rent water sports equipment, including tubes and life jackets, we encourage you to visit a local whitewater sports gear rental company. Visit VisitGolden.com/creek-info for a list of local water sports guides and outfitters who rent equipment.
If you are a watersports outfitter conducting commercial operations within the City of Golden, you MUST first obtain a permit.
Often referred to as the heart of Golden, Clear Creek is frequented by fishermen, kayakers, tubers, sunbathers, runners, bikers and more. 2012’s perfect storm, or lack thereof, created a low water season. Coupled with warm temperatures, the creek experienced unprecedented use. Concerns were expressed regarding overcrowding, noise, parking, environmental degradation, trash and other impacts. In urban environments, it is particularly challenging to balance resource protection and visitor use.
City of Golden staff reacted immediately to public concerns by conducting an ecosystem assessment, developing a communications campaign about acceptable use in the corridor, and working with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program to conduct a yearlong public process to develop a written management plan for use of the Clear Creek Corridor. The intent of the Clear Creek Management Plan is to establish a framework for managing the wide variety of recreational uses while balancing the need to restore and preserve the creek and its banks.
The Clear Creek Management Plan serves as a guiding document for management of Clear Creek by providing a framework for monitoring creek use and incorporating new management strategies when they are needed to protect the Clear Creek experience. The plan was adopted by Golden City Council on June 12, 2014 and will serve as an Appendix to the Clear Creek Master Plan, along with the Clear Creek Ecosystem Assessment which was also developed to address impacts of use. Each of these three plans provides a complete package to ensure Clear Creek remains a fun, safe place to play while protecting natural resource values.
Clear Creek Management Plan
Staff contracted with Ecological Consultants Inc. to prepare a detailed evaluation of the creek bed and bank area to determine the location, nature and extent of environmental damage caused by 2012 seasonal activity. This report identified potential protection, restoration and reconstruction options for several sensitive areas. Download the Clear Creek Ecological Health Assessment for a detailed look at the area’s state following the 2012 high-use season, and scroll down to learn more about the Aquatic Health Management Plan released in 2022.
In addition to new regulations for creek corridor use, staff is working with the National Park Service to develop a Clear Creek Management Plan through a public engagement process. The goal of the plan is to establish a framework for managing the wide variety of recreational uses while balancing the need to restore and preserve the creek and its banks. The public process for the Clear Creek Management Plan has included an Open House and two workshops. View the results of these meetings below.
While many measures have already been taken to safeguard the long-term health of the Clear Creek Corridor, the Clear Creek Management Plan is till evolving, encompassing the results of the Ecological Consultants Inc. evaluation of the creek condition, and finding ways to achieve the visions set forth in the Golden Vision 2030 Plan (consistent with the Clear Creek Master Plan ). Our goal is to build an understanding among creek corridor users about safety, creek culture, and preservation of natural resources.
Aquatic Health Management Plan
For many years, Clear Creek has been an attraction for anglers, tubers, kayakers and other recreational users. But in recent years, the Creek has seen additional impacts to the health of aquatic life from higher water temperatures and lower average stream flows.
Golden recently commissioned a study to look at how these conditions affect the aquatic life living in the Creek, including brown trout, rainbow and brook trout, and several macroinvertebrate species such as mayflies, beetles and water mites. When higher temperatures are combined with lower seasonal flows and increased recreational use, fish and other species become stressed.
The City of Golden Clear Creek Aquatic Health Management Plan offers recommendations to ensure protection of aquatic resources while still allowing responsible use by recreational users. In upcoming summer seasons, the City may choose to implement one or a combination of options, and potentially monitor the success of these options to determine measures that are the most effective and least disruptive to recreational use. In the meantime, Golden will continue to proactively monitor and manage the multitude of interests for both human and aquatic life in maintaining a sustainable ecosystem for the Clear Creek area.