Eagle River Colorado

DIY Guide to Fly Fishing Eagle River in Colorado

Taking its name from an old Native American tribal myth, the Ute people claim that there are as many streams, creeks, branches, and tributaries on the Eagle River as there are tail feathers on an eagle.

The headwaters originate near the Continental Divide, surrounded by the familiar and popular vista of Mount of the Holy Cross.

This area is also home to Camp Hale, which is the original training camp of the famed U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division (currently the 10th Mountain trains at Fort Drum in upstate New York). 

Fly fishing the Eagle River in Colorado during the annual caddis hatch. Video by Fly Fishing Outfitters.

From the Divide, the Eagle flows northward to the Vail Valley, where it joins with Gore Creek and flows westward all the way to the Colorado River around the small town of Dotsero some 60 miles distant from the Eagle’s headwaters.

Long stretches of the river follow the I-70/Highway 6, passing through the towns of Minturn, Vail, Avon, Gypsum, and Edwards before terminating at the Colorado River.  The waters in these areas offer plenty of rainbows, cutthroat, browns, and brook trout. 

In fact, it is not uncommon to come across wild rainbows and browns that exceed 20 inches when fishing the Upper or Lower Eagle.

Many anglers tend to overlook the Eagle, as it is actually on the way to numerous more famous and legendary fly fishing destinations such as Beaver Creek.

The Upper Eagle nearest the headwaters is best known for its brown trout population and habitats, and anglers who favor fast water and pocket fishing will want to stick closer to the river’s source for the best dry fly action in the summer and early autumn.

The fishing is still superb along the Lower Eagle, but it tends to be more fished and crowded during peak season from June to October.

Eagle River Fishing Access Map and Boat Launches

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Eagle River (Colorado): 39.481342, -106.358223
EAGLE RIVER AT RED CLIFF, CO.: 39.508319, -106.366695
EAGLE RIVER BELOW GYPSUM, CO.: 39.649430, -106.953655
EAGLE RIVER BELOW MILK CREEK NEAR WOLCOTT, CO: 39.705000, -106.725833
EAGLE RIVER NEAR MINTURN, CO: 39.553875, -106.402529
EAST FORK EAGLE RIVER NEAR CLIMAX, CO: 39.410265, -106.249747
Eagle River (Dotsero to Gypsum): 39.647666, -107.053013
Eagle River (Colorado/Eagle Confluence): 39.647798, -107.053013
Eagle River (Dotsero to Gypsum): 39.647666, -107.053002
Eagle River (Lower Gypsum Ponds): 39.650888, -106.954757
Eagle River (I-70 from Gypsum to Eagle): 39.650871, -106.954843
Eagle River (Eagle to Wolcott and Edwards): 39.651516, -106.882102
Eagle River (Edwards to Dowd's Junction): 39.653415, -106.628322
Eagle River (Dowd's Junction to Red Cliff): 39.608465, -106.446704
Eagle River (Upper Eagle River): 39.508941, -106.375979
Eagle River (Red Cliff to Camp Hale): 39.508842, -106.376537
Eagle River (Raft Put-in/Take out): 39.649748, -106.992416
Eagle River (Public Access Point): 39.652458, -106.985679
Eagle River (Public Campground): 39.654440, -106.980743
Eagle River (Gypsum Ponds Access): 39.652358, -106.948341
Eagle River (SWA Public Pull-off): 39.653317, -106.928043
Eagle River ('The Springs' Access): 39.653514, -106.921434
Eagle River (Unmarked Access): 39.653514, -106.914782
Eagle River (Eagle County Fairgrounds): 39.658670, -106.826590
Eagle River (Fairgrounds and Rest Area): 39.658206, -106.827878
Eagle River (Eby Creek Bridge Access): 39.656919, -106.823329
Eagle River (Closed to Fishing): 39.664220, -106.810025
Eagle River (Eagle River SWA): 39.673369, -106.788054
Eagle River (Public Access Point): 39.670067, -106.796637
Eagle River (Public Access Point): 39.676045, -106.778097
Eagle River (Parking and Access): 39.686483, -106.751575
Eagle River (Multiple Access Points): 39.696851, -106.736512
Eagle River (I-70 Rapids): 39.710455, -106.709346
Eagle River (Climbing Rock Park): 39.712798, -106.698318
Eagle River (Trestle Rapids Access): 39.702300, -106.687160
Eagle River (Eagle Springs Access): 39.698766, -106.665143
Eagle River (I-70 Access): 39.675749, -106.647161
Eagle River (Baby Ruth Hole): 39.654341, -106.629566
Eagle River (Sewer Plant Put In/Take Out): 39.653945, -106.623987
Eagle River (Edwards's Rest Area): 39.645584, -106.590470
Eagle River (Riverhouse Center): 39.642775, -106.589226
Eagle River (The Reserve): 39.639108, -106.582446
Eagle River (Arrowhead Access): 39.638810, -106.562920
Eagle River (Unnamed Access): 39.636299, -106.545839
Eagle River (Town of Avon Access): 39.635142, -106.535797
Eagle River ('Bob' The Bridge): 39.631605, -106.521893
Eagle River (Eagle-Vail Access): 39.622846, -106.483440
Eagle River (Kayak Takeout Parking): 39.618284, -106.462239
Eagle River (River Run Apartments): 39.617457, -106.459965
Eagle River (Dowd's Junction): 39.609524, -106.451081
Eagle River (Minturn Access): 39.600926, -106.435461
Eagle River (Ginn Private Property): 39.558853, -106.401557
Eagle River (Red Cliff Access): 39.509537, -106.376495
Eagle River (Homestake Creek): 39.494635, -106.366453
Eagle River (Pando): 39.469197, -106.345252
Eagle River (Camp Hale): 39.454220, -106.325683
Eagle River (Eagle River Preserve): 39.647686, -106.596615
Campsite Parking. Slow water: 39.710905, -106.693997
Eagle River SWA: 39.672780, -106.789511
Eagle River SWA: 39.678575, -106.768350

Download the DIY Fly Fishing App to get turn-by-turn directions to access points shown on the map above. 

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Eagle River Flow and Current Conditions

EAGLE R BLW WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT AT AVON, CO

  • Flow: 1250 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 6.06 ft
.
USGS

Best Places to Fish the Eagle River

To access the headwaters of the river, take Highway 24 from Leadville and Dowd’s Junction, then cross The Divide at the Tennessee Pass.

The majority of the land in this region is a part of the White River National Forest, and there are a number of campgrounds available with access to Eagle River (shown on map above).

Tributaries of the Eagle are easily accessed via forest roads throughout the area off of Highway 24. Be careful of private property near Minturn and Gilman though, as there are sections of the river that are posted.

For those anglers interested in fishing the Lower Eagle, the best access points begin at Dowd’s Junction where The Eagle River meets Gore Creek.

Avon, Edwards, and Wolcott all offer fairly limited access due to the large number of private properties in the area. If you travel further down between Wolcott and Dotsero, however, you will find plenty of public access areas all along the Eagle til it reaches the Colorado River.

If you do decide to fish near Avon, be extra cautious regarding private property lines if you are strolling along the bank to try your luck. The only real public access point to the Eagle River in Avon is at the Bridge locals call “Bob”. 

Access points are shown on the map above.

Best Time to Fish the Eagle River

Year round fishing is available all along the Eagle River, but but the best hatches are in the summer and early fall.

Hatches are frequent and numerous, and the river is host to numerous species of midges, tricos, stoneflies, caddis, mayflies, and baetis flies almost all year long. 

Keep in mind that if you decide to fish during peak season you may find yourself competing for space, as it can get crowded on the banks, particularly towards the Lower Eagle River where it flows toward the Colorado River.

You can also float certain sections of the Eagle depending on the season, too.

Eagle River Fly Box

NYMPHS: RS2 20-22, Magic Fly 20-22, Zebra Midge 18-22, Green Psycho Prince 14-18, Flashback Pheasant Tails 18-20, BWO Flashback Barr's Emerger 16-18, Pat's Bread Crust 14-16, Electric Caddis 16-18, Caddis Pupa 14-16, Prince Nymph 14-18, Twenty Bomb 12-14, Pats Rubber Legs Golden 8-12

DRIES: Para Adams 16-20, Mini Hot Garcia 16-18, Foam Parachute 16-18, Mahogany Parachute Ext. Body 18-22, Irresistible Adams 16-18, Renegade 16-20, Pearl and Elk Caddis 16-18, Clacka Caddis 16-18, X2 Caddis 16-18, PMX Royal 14-16, Yellow Stimulator 14-16

STREAMERS:Thin Mint, Motor Oil, Sparkle Minnow, Sculpzilla, Autumn Splendor, Baby Gongas


Fly recommendations courtesy of Vail Valley Anglers

Eagle River Fishing Tips

 In terms of hatches, winter and early spring see midges and baetis, later spring and summer are caddis, mayflies, stoneflies, and tricos, and the fall sees more midges, tricos, caddis, and mayflies.

Terrestrials can also prove useful during the summer months as well. Provided you match the hatch properly for the time of year of your visit, you should have no trouble landing fish anywhere you choose to set up for the day.

A 10-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs. For larger nymphs and streamers a 9-foot 5-wt makes life easier. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 6X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.

Eagle River Fishing Reports

There are a number of area fly shops and on-line retailers that publish Eagle River fishing reports. A few to check out are listed below.

Eagle River Fishing Regulations

From the confluence of the east fork and south fork downstream to the confluence with the Colorado River the Bag and Possession Limit for trout is 2. Check the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website for current regulations and to download the Colorado Fishing Regulations brochure.

Eagle River Trip Planning Tips

During peak season, your best bet to get to the Eagle River area is to fly into Denver and drive to Avon along the I-70. It’s a about 130 miles or 2 hours depending on how you measure drives, but the scenery is gorgeous year round.

Accommodations are plentiful if somewhat pricey in and around Avon, Edwards, and Wolcott. The White River National Forest offers campground sites for those who prefer to rough it on a fishing trip.

There are also hunting and fishing cabins for rent from outfitters and private individuals all around the Avon area. It's also worth checking out local vacation rentals as well in case someone has a really good out-of-ski-season deal on a condo or cabin near Aspen.

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Looking for more places to fish? Visit our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in Colorado.


About the Author Ken Sperry

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and is on a quest to map the best places for fly fishing in America. He created the DIY Fly Fishing App to share this information and help you find new places to fish.