North Platte River: North Gate Canyon to Bennett Peak

CLASS - II, III, IV

GRADIENT - 19 ft/mile

LENGTH - 40 miles

FLOAT TIME - 12 to 14 hours

BLM QUAD MAPS - Saratoga

PUT IN - Routt Landing 5 miles south of the state line

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - Bennett Peak southeast of Saratoga

North Platte River

USGS Gage Station CFS near the state line.

Bear River Map

 

The North Gate Canyon section of the North Platte River travels through part of the Platte River Wilderness and offers good whitewater on the upper 10 mile stretch to Six Mile Gap. Below Six Mile, the river eases up a bit with only a few small rapids, as it continues through the wilderness for another nine miles to Pickeroon Campground. The Platte then leaves the national forest and enters private land for most of the next 18 miles to the Bennett Peak take-out. Canoes are prohibited on the upper stretch.

The Routt National Forest access in Colorado is reached by turning off C-125 at mile #71, half way between the state line and Cowdry. There is river flow and other information posted here. (You can also call the North Park Ranger District in Waldon, Colorado at 303-723-8204.) Just around the bend from the put-in is Windy Hole Rapids which is a Class II at low flows and Class III above 2000 cfs. It takes about two hours to float to the state line and there are only a few small rock gardens in this stretch.

About thirty minutes after entering Wyoming is Cow Pie Rapid. This area contains many boulders and the quarter-mile section runs continuous to Narrow Falls. The Falls contains some large boulders with a short drop along a rock wall to a pool below. These rapids rate a Class III at low flows and above 2000 cfs they are Class IV. Above 3000 cfs they could be a Class V.

For the next hour below Narrow Falls to Stovepipe, you have a few short sections of Class II/III rapids. Stovepipe is a quick little Class III tumble down. Just below here is the Six Mile Gap Landing. Float time is about three or four hours.

The Six Mile Gap Landing is reached by turning off W-230 at mile #123, four miles north of the state line, and taking a dirt road two miles east to a campground. There is a steep drop down to the river on a foot trail, making access a bit difficult. Below the landing the river continues through the canyon and wilderness area in beautiful Class II. There are only a few small rock gardens and nothing difficult until Douglas Creek, just above the take-out at Pickeroon. The Douglas Creek Rapid is a short Class III with a reversal at high flows.

It takes about three hours to float down from Six Mile Gap to Pickeroon Campground. Access to this landing is difficult and may be reached by taking the French Creek Road (off W-230, see the next section for details) east for 30 miles toward Rob Roy Reservoir, and then southwest for 15 miles. There is also a bad 4-WD road that turns off W-230 at mile #119 and heads east to the river.

The float from Pickeroon to Bennett Peak takes about five hours. This Class II stretch leaves the canyon and travels through arid foothills and small breaks. There is a large bridge (private) about one hour downstream and two hours further is the Sanger Bridge on the French Creek Road. (This is a possible landing for those willing to pay.) You then have a one hour float to the Bennett Peak take-out. (See the next section for details on how to reach this landing.)

Photo Caption (image not shown): Stovepipe Rapids at 1200 cfs still offers a good ride. Note the climb to reach Six Mile Gap Landing (hilltop at the upper left).