South Fork Shoshone River: Hunter Creek Bridge to Bartlett Lane

CLASS - II (III)

GRADIENT - 35 ft/mile

LENGTH - 35 miles

FLOAT TIME - 9 hours

BLM QUAD MAPS - Carter Mountain

PUT IN - 35 miles west of Cody on W-291

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Bartlett Lane

South Fork Shoshone River

USGS Gage Station CFS near Valley.

South Fork Shoshone River

 

This is a fantastic area for floating. In the early spring there are small waterfalls plummeting over the edges of Ishawooa Mesa on the west and Boulder Ridge on the east. Herds of elk, deer, and bighorn sheep are commonly seen. The upper section of the river braids through a wide floodplain that is strewn with cobblestone and passes below snow capped peaks; past willow, pine, cedar, and cottonwood trees, and along lush mountain hay meadows.

Access for the South Fork Shoshone River is approximately 35 miles southwest of Cody. On the west side of Cody, you turn off US-14 and take W-291 (South Fork Road) around Cedar Mountain. At mile #6 is the Bartlett Lane turn-off to the Buffalo Bill State Park take-out. During the next 25 miles to the end of the pavement, you pass by several county roads leading down to the river, but there are no public access points at these places. Two miles after the pavement ends is the Hunter Creek Road (which crosses the river and ends at a guard station at another possible put-in). The easiest put-in is at a public fishing area in the Shoshone National Forest, three miles further up on the main road.

The current is fairly fast along this section and there is the possibility of logjams, giving the river a solid Class II rating. About one hour below the Hunter Creek Bridge is the W-291 Bridge near the Ishawooa Trail Head. Just downstream a bit is a beautiful area at the confluence with Ishawooa Creek. From here you begin traveling between Wapiti Ridge on the west and Carter Mountain on the east. You pass by a county bridge and then a sandstone outcropping where the water tries to push you against a small overhang. A bit further is a ditch going off to the right, but you can easily float by it on the left. One hour from the county bridge, the river swings along the highway for a bit and then makes a sharp turn. Below this point is an easy Class III area and the river begins a long series of small intermittent rapids.

You have a great run for the next two hours and pass below several small bridges. As you begin to go by Castle Rock (off to the left), you pass by large irrigation ditch going left and then two more ditches in the next hour or so. None of these pose any problems. However, after continuing downstream for another hour, you pass by a ditch going right. Just below this ditch is a walkway bridge with a small diversion dam underneath it. Depending on water flow, you might have to drag around this obstacle.

As you continue to float down to the next county bridge, you can see Cedar Mountain to the northeast, Rattlesnake Mountain to the north, and to the northwest is Table Mountain. After passing below this last bridge, you have an easy float to the reservoir and a short paddle to the take-out.

Photo Caption (image not shown): South Fork Shoshone River and the Isawooa Creek Confluence.