Clarks Fork River: Upper Run, Crandal Creek, The Box, and Lower Run


GRADIENT - 60 (250) ft/mile

LENGTH - 3 to 25 miles

FLOAT TIME - 2 hours to 2 days


PUT IN - above Hunter Peak Campground

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - lower canyon west of Clark

Clarks Fork River

USGS Gage Station CFS below Clark.

Clarks Fork River


Access to the upper river is reached by taking the Chief Joseph Highway (county road 7RU and W-296) off W-120 at mile #117. After 20 miles the pavement begins and 25 miles further is the junction with US-212. Eight miles west is the Fox Creek Campground put-in for the easy Class II run. This one hour float has some downed timber across the river in the first few miles. Just above the bridge near Pilot Creek is a small restriction with a pool below. Two miles below Crazy Creek are two bridges which can produce a few good waves. Directly above the turnout at W-296 mile #2.5 is a short Class III.

The Upper Class V run begins by putting in at the turnout on W-296. The top of the first drop starts just out of view of the highway. The river makes two more drops and then runs through a four foot wide slot requiring a short portage. Just below the slot is Upside-down Falls, The Jet, and Muddy Creek Hole. Below Muddy Creek (mile #3.4) is a short stretch of easy water before Boulder Drop. The river then runs through a boulder choked restriction in a sharp "S" turn called Adrenalin. This overhanging rock and falls is another probable portage. Just below Adrenalin is The Slide, an eight foot floatable falls. The take-out is at the Hunter Peak Campground at mile #5. The topographic, 7.5 minute map for this run is Muddy Creek.

The Crandall Creek run starts at the W-296 Bridge. Just below, the river drops through a narrow canyon with continuous whitewater and increasing difficulty. This is a IV/V run with two portages. The big hole halfway down is called Ralph. The take-out is reached by taking a 4-WD road along Crandall Creek to the confluence.

Below Crandall Creek is another two mile stretch of continuous Class IV/V water. You then have about six miles of quiet water before entering The Box. This heinous canyon has been run at about 1500 cfs. It's a two day commitment with 17 portages. Some reports have indicated technical climbing. While it has been done with minor climbing, kayak-mountainering skills are required. Some scouting can be done from the trail on the north side of the canyon (scenic vistas), but you really only get glimpses of the gorge below. When one boater was asked for a statement that would be most benificial to kayakers planning the trip, the reply was have the skills and be in the best possible physical condition. Topographic, 7.5 minute maps for the canyon are Windy Mountain and Dillworth Bench.

Access for the lower section is reached by turning off W-120 at mile #129 and taking county roads 1AB and 8VC 12 miles west to the end of the pavement and the Shoshone National Forest. From here you take a rough two-track road four miles up the canyon. Some scouting can be done from the road but closer inspection is required for this boulder field and frothing torrent. Zona is the first Class V run and is a half-mile long. Below the flatwater partition at Cyclone Bar is a three mile run. The top two pieces are called Cyclone and Slam Dunk. You then have to sneak by the right side of Mike's Motel. Below are two large boulders at Upper Twin Pin and then a single boulder and nasty hole at Lower Twin Pin. The last holes are called the Three Amigos. The topographic map for this run is Bald Peak.

Photo Caption (image not shown): Boyce Greer from Massachusetts works his way through Zona on the lower canyon run above Cyclone Bar.