North Platte River: Wendover Canyon to Torrington

CLASS - I (II)

GRADIENT - 2 ft/mile

LENGTH - 80 miles

FLOAT TIME - 2 days

BLM QUAD MAPS - Torrington

PUT IN - Glendo Power Plant

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - Pioneer Park in Torrington

North Platte River

USGS Gage Station CFS below Glendo Dam.

North Platte River

 

The first stretch of this float is one of the nicest on the North Platte - Wendover Canyon and Guernsey Reservoir. At low flows it's a Class I but at flows above 3000 cfs it's a Class II. The lower section from Guernsey to Torrington travels through irrigated farm land and, as a consequence, is plagued with diversion dams and dewatering problems. There can be as much as 5000 cfs being sent from Glendo Dam to Whalen Dam during the "silt run". In contrast, the entire supply of water could be diverted from the river at the Whalen Dam. Because flows on this section of the North Platte are heavily regulated, floating from Glendo down to Torrington may take a bit of planning and a few phone calls. For flow information, try calling the Bureau of Reclamation in Torrington at 307-532-4161.

The put-in below Glendo Dam is reached by taking the Glendo Park Road east from Glendo for five miles. Just past the Two Moons Campground is the turnoff for the power plant. The river travels through a beautiful canyon for about an hour where the view to the southwest opens up for a bit. An hour further downstream is where Cottonwood Creek comes in from the right and the river enters Wendover Canyon. The next two hours to the Wendover Landing (reached by turning off US-26 at mile #12) travels through a pretty canyon lined with cedar, pine, and cottonwood trees. I floated it for the first time at about 1000 cfs on a beautiful moonlit night, but at high flows this section can have some fair sized standing waves.

Below Wendover, the river slows down considerably and enters Guernsey Reservoir after about five miles. The paddle down to the dam is a beautiful float - if the reservoir is full. There are several landings on the reservoir that can be reached by turning off US-26 at mile #14 and taking W-317 to the state park. Float time from Glendo to the Guernsey Dam is about eight hours.

Beginning at the Game and Fish Landing below Guernsey Dam (reached by turning off US-26 at mile #15), the river travels past the Town of Guernsey and the Register Cliffs Monument. As you continue downstream, the rolling hills and cedar trees begin to give way to cottonwoods and farmland. Two hours from the put-in is the landing at the Whalen Diversion Dam (accesed from mile #22). The portage around the dam is a half-mile long and involves packing over the canal on an old bridge.

Two hours below is a diversion dam requiring a short drag-around. Down a bit further is the W-160 Bridge to the Fort Laramie Historical Site and just below is another dam with a short portage. The next access is at the W-157 Bridge at mile #7 (reached off US-26 at mile #33). You then pass under W-157 again east of Lingle.

The last four hour stretch to Torrington has two small diversion dams which are floatable (after inspection) and two more bridges. The take-out is at Pioneer Park at a third and larger diversion dam. Float time from the Whalen access is eight or nine hours.

Photo Caption (image not shown): The Stafford twins from New Jersey, Jennifer and Jackie, pause in Wendover Canyon to teach Katie a new trick.