Hams Fork River: Bridger National Forest to Frontier

CLASS - II

GRADIENT - 20 ft/mile

LENGTH - 15 to 55 miles

FLOAT TIME - 6 to 14 hours

BLM QUAD MAPS - Fontenelle, Kemmerer

PUT IN - Hams River Campground north of Kemmerer

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - Lyons Park north of Frontier

Hams Fork River

USGS Gage Station CFS below Pole Creek.

Hams Fork River

 

The Hams Fork River begins in the southern end of the Wyoming Range and flows south to Frontier and Kemmerer. There it turns southeast to the confluence with the Blacks Fork River near Granger. The lower section, from Kemmerer to Granger, is almost never floated because there are no public landings and the river suffers from irrigation dewatering. Access to the upper section is reached by taking W-233 from Frontier and following along the river for about 20 miles to the head of Lake Viva Naughton. Here the pavement ends and you continue to follow the river to the forest boundary (15 miles) and the Hams Fork Campground (six more miles).

Beginning at the campground landing, the river travels through a small mountain valley. Although the river here is an easy Class II, it is quite narrow and contains several small beaver dams and a lot of overhanging brush. The first fence you come to is at the forest boundary, about two hours downstream. Below here the river passes through privately owned land and occasional sections of state land.

About two miles downstream, West Fork Creek comes in from the right and the valley begins to widen, with the twisting and bending of the river becoming more pronounced. Two hours from the forest boundary, the river breaks up into a couple of smaller channels and you pass by a gaging station. Just below the gaging station, the river channels rejoin and there is a small landing and diversion dam where the river nears the road on a section of state land.

Below here the river slows a bit and travels through a broad valley with sage covered hills and dense willow thickets. This section contains two privately owned bridges, five fences, and a few floatable beaver dams. There are a couple of small irrigation ditches, but no diversion dams. The major obstacle may be an obstinate moose or two. It takes about four hours to float to the bridge landing at the head of Lake Viva Naughton and then a bit of paddling to the marina. Float time from the upper campground to the reservoir is about eight hours.

The put-in for the next section is at either the Kemmerer Reservoir spillway, or one mile downstream at a Game and Fish parking area. Below the reservoir, the Hams Fork twists and bends through irrigated hay fields (seven fences), with almost double the river miles compared to highway miles. After passing below an old iron bridge, there is a small diversion dam that is floatable during higher flows. The river then swings along the ridge on the right and you begin floating past some sections of Game and Fish riprap. Downstream a bit is a short portage around a dam and then another small bridge.

About four hours from the put-in is a small park (reservations only) and you have another portage around a pumping station and dam for the Kemmerer water supply. Just below is the W-233 Bridge and downstream a bit is another diversion dam portage. Two hours further, you go under a county bridge and come to the Lyons Community Park Landing. This landing may be reached by turning off W-233 at mile #2, just north of the airport road. Float time from the spillway to this park is about five or six hours.

Photo Caption (image not shown): Future boaters Robin, Krissy, Keith, and Samantha practice their moves through a flatwater section on their way to town.