Powder River: Kaycee to Sussex


GRADIENT - 13 ft/mile

LENGTH - 30 miles

FLOAT TIME - 12 hours


PUT IN - Kaycee Town Park

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - ask permission to trespass near Sussex

Powder River

USGS Gage Station CFS at Sussex.

Powder River


The put-in for the upper section of the Powder River (Middle Fork) is at the town park in Kaycee. The river below here is composed of a continual series of tight looping bends, small logjams, and overhanging trees. The river is not fast through this area, but it is quite narrow. As a result, you are constantly trying to cut across inside bends in order to avoid being shoved against the outside bank and carbody riprap. There are also many fences to contend with. Although there were no fallen trees across the river when I was here they should be expected.

About two hours downstream is a small diversion dam which may be floatable depending runoff. Thirty minutes later you begin following along the highway for a bit, and you come to the confluence of the North Fork near a power line. Below here is a large diversion dam requiring a portage.

The river continues easterly for about two miles and then swings south to the confluence with the South Fork. This is a beautiful area through here and the there is a feeling for the first time of some remoteness to the river. The sharp twists and bends begin to relax into long meandering loops as you head east and then north through part of Pine Ridge. The river nears the highway a couple more times as you once again swing east.

Five hours from the South Fork, Salt Creek comes in from the right near a small heron rookery. To the south is Pine Ridge, southeast is Chalk Butte, and to the far east are Pumpkin Buttes. Two hours further downstream is the W-192 Bridge at Sussex. There is no public access here so you will need to ask permission to trespass. Float time from Kaycee to Sussex is about 12 hours.

Photo Caption (image not shown): The slow pace on the Powder River gives Smeagle a chance to contemplate the meaning of life and an expanding universe.