Laramie River: State Line to Laramie

CLASS - I and II

GRADIENT - 10 ft/mile

LENGTH - 8 to 55 miles

FLOAT TIME - 2 to 16 hours

BLM QUAD MAPS - Saratoga, Laramie

PUT IN - above Woods Landing

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - Laramie

Laramie River

USGS Gage Station CFS near Bosler.

Laramie River

 

Access to the upper put-in is reached by taking W-10 south from Woods Landing to a USFS road at mile #7. This two-track road follows along a ridge for three miles and then makes a short, steep drop (4-WD required) down to the river. Here there is a small Class II rapid as you enter the head of a beautiful little canyon. Three miles down is another Class II rapid. One hour from the put-in, and after three low bridges, is the Jelm Mountain Landing (off W-10 at mile #2).

Just below the Jelm access is a small pipe across the river. At lower flows you can float under it. The river then runs through another small canyon with a bit steeper gradient. This is a fun run with a few short Class II rapids. Float time from the upper access is about two hours.

The stretch from Woods Landing to Laramie is a nightmare of fences - I counted 82! With approximately 40 miles of river, that's an average of one fence every half-mile. The only silver lining in this gray cloud is that each time you get out to drag around a fence, you have the opportunity to look for mushrooms. Another drawback to this long float (16 to 18 hours total) is that the only public access is at Woods Landing, the Monolith Ranch Game and Fish easement (off W-220 at mile marker #6), and the take-out at Optimist Park in Laramie. The result is that you must make good use of your paddle, or ask permission to trespass for landings or camping.

The 15 miles down to the third bridge (off W-220 at mile marker #19 near the Harmony School) takes about six or seven hours to float. This section has ten small diversion dams. Most of these can be floated and the others require only an easy drag-around. This area rates a Class II because it also contains many logjams and downed trees across the river.

Below the Harmony School Road, the logjams become fewer and the river opens up a bit. It's a four or five hour float down to county bridge #37 (off W-220 at mile #13). This section is a difficult Class I at best and has only two other bridges and a small diversion dam. Just downstream, the river leaves the cottonwood bottom lands and begins running through a part of the Laramie Basin, with only an occasional tree or two. Here you have good views of the Laramie Mountains to the east and the Snowy Range Mountains to the west. It takes about three more hours to float to the Monolith Ranch Landing. The next three hour float down to Optimist Park contains 22 fences and one diversion dam which requires a drag-around. There are also a couple of small rocky drops just before reaching the I-80 Bridge.

I have not floated the section below Laramie, but scouting indicates fewer fences than the upper stretch. One possible landing is on the Howell Road, about one mile north of the confluence with the Little Laramie River (state land). The take-out is at the US-30 Bridge at Bosler Junction.

Photo Caption (image not shown): Boaters Jeff and Lissa Hostetler spend Saturday afternoon on the Laramie before floating North Gate Canyon on Sunday.