Published: June 21, 2023

When the weather heats up, students and others flock to Boulder Creek, tubes and kayaks in hand. This year, with water levels in the Boulder area and throughout the state above average due to substantial winter snowfall melt and heavy spring rainstorms, officials are urging residents to use caution in and on the creek.

So far this month, two people have drowned in Boulder Creek. During a mid-month storm that led to significant flooding, two people had to be rescued from Boulder Creek when an island formed around them due to fast-rising water. In all, Boulder Fire-Rescue has responded to at least five water rescues in the last two weeks.

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office enacts tubing bans on Boulder Creek when water flows top the safety threshold for activities like tubing, kayaking and floating. 

“Our policy is to enact tubing restrictions for watercraft such as single-chamber rafts, single-chamber belly boats and inner tubes on Boulder Creek when we have a sustained cubic-feet-per-second level of 700 or above,” said Carrie Haverfield, spokeswoman for the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. 

Levels fluctuate, so those wishing to tube on Boulder Creek are advised to check this website to get current stream gage information. 

“We look for sustained numbers, as typically you see fluctuations after rainstorms or in the overnight hours during spring run-off as the CFS numbers increase and decrease. We are communicating with the city of Boulder, constantly monitoring the water levels and will enact restrictions if we meet our pre-established threshold,” Haverfield added.

Currently, there are no tubing restrictions on Boulder Creek but there are restrictions in place for North St. Vrain and St. Vrain creeks

Officials at the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office recommend taking the following safety measures when tubing on Boulder Creek:

 Tubing safety measures 

  • Recreate with other people and/or let other people know where you are going and when you are expected back.
  • Use proper personal safety equipment during recreational activities in and around the water. Safety equipment can include:
    • A personal flotation device or life jacket: Make sure it is the correct size (snug/fits like a glove yet allows freedom of movement) and with a sufficient rating for the type of activity.
    • A drysuit or wetsuit: When water temperatures are low, hypothermia can quickly set in.
    • A helmet, when taking part in water sports activities in shallow water or areas where underwater conditions are unknown.

If you are taking personal water sport equipment such as tubes or kayaks into the creek, officials recommend writing your name and contact information on the equipment in the event you lose it in the water. That way, officials can contact you to ensure you safely exited the water.

While the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has the final authority to enact tubing or other use bans, Boulder Fire-Rescue posted signage along the creek and shared safety tips encouraging everyone to stay aware of current water conditions and hazards, and to identify exit points before entering the water.

​ Boulder Fire-Rescue safety tips

  • Do not play or walk near banks, as you can easily slip in.
  • Keep your pets on a leash, especially near the water.
  • If using an inflatable watercraft, seek a multi-chambered vessel.
  • Recreate in groups of two or more.