Shoshone River: Powell to Bighorn Reservoir


GRADIENT - 20 ft/mile

LENGTH - 35 miles

FLOAT TIME - 1 day

BLM QUAD MAPS - Cody, Powell

PUT IN - W-295 Bridge

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - Bighorn Reservoir north of the US-14A Bridge

Shoshone River

USGS Gage Station CFS at Lovell.

Shoshone River


Beginning from the landing south of Powell at the W-295 Bridge, you have a one hour float to the diversion dam for the Eld-Powell Canal. This is an easy drag around. An hour further downstream you go through the Narrows, and after another hour you come to a Game and Fish access point at the Garland Diversion Dam. This landing may be reached by turning off at the county line at mile #5.

From the diversion dam the river swings northeast toward the Big Horn Mountains and you begin dropping down into the Bighorn River Basin. Along this stretch, you go over a series of small benches and through some pretty flatland country. The river braids around through a small oil field area for a bit and two hours from the Garland Dam is the bridge at Byran.

After leaving Byran, you have a good view of the Pryer Mountains to the north. Just below Byran is a heron rookery and the river begins breaking up into numerous small channels. Pay close attention to your choices through this area as there are lots of overhanging branches, snags, and strainers. This situation persists until you reach the first bridge landing west of Lovell (about two hours).

Just after passing below the third bridge (railroad), the Sunlight Canal takes off to the right and downstream a bit further you pass by a large concrete structure. Below here the river begins following along the Gray Wall. There was a huge logjam that blocked the entire river when I floated this section. Be on the look out for others.

You leave the Gray Wall after about an hour and come to the W-37 Bridge. Here you can see Little Sheep Mountain off to the south. As you continue to drop down into the basin, the river begins to work its way through a maze of interconnecting channels, slews, and backwaters. This area is a large woodlot with a twisting and meandering river passing through it. Do not rush blindly around sharp bends with out scouting as this area has many snags and strainers. About two hours from W-37 is the Bighorn Reservoir. On the east side of the lake is a boat launch which can be accessed by turning off US-14A and heading north for one mile. Float time from Powell to the reservoir is about 10 or 12 hours.