Encampment River: From the state line to the town of Encampment

CLASS - IV and V

GRADIENT - 70 (150) ft/mile

LENGTH - 20 miles

FLOAT TIME - 6 hours

BLM QUAD MAPS - Saratoga

PUT IN - Commissary Park 30 miles south of Encampment

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - IOOF Campground south of Encampment

Encampment River

USGS Gage Station CFS near Encampment.

Encampment River


The Encampment River begins in the Colorado Routt National Forest, and after entering Wyoming it runs through a steep mountain canyon in the Sierra Madre Mountains, Encampment River Wilderness. It is a technical run suitable for expert kayakers only. The upper 10 miles is almost continuous Class III and IV rapids with several Class V drops. The next 10 miles to Riverside is a beautiful Class II. A trail follows along the east side of the river from the IOOF Campground to Hog Park Creek. Below Riverside, the river travels through irrigated hay fields to the North Platte River and it is not generally floatable because of dewatering for irrigation.

Access to the Commissary Park put-in above Hog Park Creek is reached by taking W-70 west from Encampment for five miles to road #550. Here you turn south for six miles to a junction with road #496. (Road #550 turns southwest to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.) Take road #496 south and you cross Hog Park Creek and go by Lake View Campground to the Encampment River Bridge in Colorado. (Here road #80 goes southeast to Cowdry, Colorado, and #496 turns north to W-230 and Riverside an alternate route to Commissary Park).

After leaving the open park and entering the forest, the river picks up speed and additional volume from the East Fork. Here the river is fast with a long Class III run. About one mile below the East Fork is Hog Park Creek and a footbridge across the river. By now the river has more than doubled in volume. Take out above the bridge to scout Entrance Falls and the next half mile section! The Falls is a solid Class V and the area just below has numerous moves through downed timber and a boulder field.

The next four miles has intermittent Class III and IV runs. Just below Box Canyon Creek, the river runs through a Class V gorge called Damnation Alley. At the head of this run is a large boulder in the middle of the river signaling the need to take out and scout the area. Just below the boulder is a short fall and then a big flush through a congested area with turbulent water. Downstream one mile is another Class V run in S-Turn Gorge.

Below S-Turn Gorge to around Purgatory Gulch, the river has some intermittent stretches of Class III and IV runs. The section from Purgatory Gulch to the take-out at the lower campground and trailhead is mostly Class II. This landing is reached by turning off W-70 just west of Encampment and taking a dirt road south for about two miles. Float time from the upper put-in is about six or seven hours. For river conditions you can try contacting the Hayden Ranger District in Encampment at 307-327-5481. Topographic, 7.5 minute series maps for the Encampment River are Dudley Creek and Encampment.

Photo Caption (image not shown): The Encampment River drops through the canyon with continuous Class IV rapids - Entrance Falls is the first Class V run.