Big Thompson Canyon Access Pier

Project Description

The Big Thompson Canyon is a heavily visited corridor which provides access to Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park and is enjoyed by community members and visitors for a variety of outdoor experiences including trout fishing and other river activities. Over thirty years ago, volunteers came together to build a fishing pier on USFS land at mile marker 72 in the Big Thompson Canyon that was accessible to people with a range of mobility levels. The pier served an estimated 40,000 visitors each year, but was destroyed by the 2013 flood. In 2016, BTWC obtained funds from a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Fishing is Fun grant to help construct a new access pier that meets USFS standards at the same location. BTWC worked with Rocky Mountain Flycasters and many generous companies in the area to design and construct the pier, often at heavily discounted prices or no cost as a generous donation to the community amenity. In 2019, BTWC and partners completed construction of the pier so that the community, including those with mobility issues, can once again enjoy fishing, birdwatching and more at the former location. The pier was constructed in a manner that will better withstand higher flows during future flood events, prolonging the community benefits for generations to come.

Fun Fact

Both brown trout and rainbow trout inhabit this stream, and an estimated 40,000 anglers visit the canyon annually in pursuit of these sportfish, bringing $4.1 million into the local
economy (CPW talk, 2018). As post-flood restoration allows the fishery to improve, both the number of anglers and their economic contribution can be expected to increase annually.

Project Photos

Pier Before


Following the 2013 floods the pier was almost completely destroyed and no longer provided access to the river

Pier After


The pier was restored with high quality materials and is anchored into the riverbed to make it more resilient to weather and time.

Pier Before

Volunteers helped build a new path to the pier that provides better access to those with mobility issues.

Building and Repairing the Pier

Volunteers assisted with revegetating and stabilizing the slopes along the path to reduce erosion and restore native vegetation.

Big Thompson Canyon Access Pier

Project Accomplishments

Engineered and constructed a newly remodeled, resilient pier

Constructed an accessible point of access pathway to the pier

Improved bank erosion and installed over 80 native plants

Engaged numerous organizations and volunteers in the construction and restoration of the pier

Installed educational signage

Our Project Partners