Shoshone River: Buffalo Bill Reservoir to Powell


GRADIENT - 20 ft/mile

LENGTH - 35 miles

FLOAT TIME - 1 day

BLM QUAD MAPS - Cody, Powell

PUT IN - W-120 Bridge in Cody

PUT IN - Google Map

TAKE OUT - W-295 Bridge

Shoshone River

Gage Station CFS below Buffalo Bill Reservoir.

Shoshone River

The Shoshone River begins as the Buffalo Bill Reservoir empties the waters collected from the North Fork and South Fork Rivers. The put-in for the upper canyon section is accessed by dragging down the hillside at the overlook on US-14 at the first tunnel. This Class V run (Maytag) will soon be lost with the completion of the new power plant. Flows will be limited to 100 cfs with only intermittent increases.

Access for the middle canyon Class V run is at the Hayden Bridge off US-14 at mile #47. A large boulder in the middle of the river marks the begining of Entrance Exam. Just below are two large holes (Customs and The Iron Curtain) which can be viewed from mile #48. The half-mile run called Pinball begins around the bend and just after passing below a power line. This area can be viewed from mile #49.

The take-out for the middle canyon and put-in for the lower canyon is accessed by turning off at the Forest Service District Office on the west side of Cody and taking a gravel road down to an old bridge. This six mile section has some good Class II rapids, the first of which could be a short Class III at high flows.

The take-out for the lower canyon and the put-in for the section more suitable for canoeing (Class II) is where 12th street drops down to the river, just upstream from the W-120 Bridge. During the first two miles of this float there are several small drops with standing waves (Class III?) that you may want to line or drag around. The river passes through a small canyon and heads toward the McCullough Peaks to the east. About two hours below is the bridge at US-14A. There is a landing on river left, but the road going down to the river is quite steep.

Downstream from the bridge is a short portage at the Corbett Diversion Dam. Just below the dam is a Game and Fish access that may be reached by turning of US-14A at mile #8. From here the river begins to head north along the base of the McCullough Peaks. This is a beautiful float through here as the river passes through badlands of sandstone cliffs and eroded red hillsides.

One hour below the Corbett Dam, you pass below Standing Rock and a bit further downstream is the backwaters created from the Willwood Diversion Dam (a considerable drop with a more lengthy portage). The paved road that crosses the river above the dam may be reached by turning off US-14A at mile #14 and taking the Willwood Road two miles east. At this portage and landing, you can see the Absaroka Mountains to the west, Heart Mountain to the near northwest, and to the far northwest are the Beartooth Mountains.

The river now swings northeast and then around to the east. Along this stretch you go by a heron rookery and travel past small foothills, several streams, and dense cover composed of shrubs, willow, buffalo berry, buffalo current, and Russian olive. Two hours below the Willwood Dam is the W-295 Bridge, at a point three miles south of Powell. Just below this bridge is a Game and Fish access. This access is off a small road on the north side of the bridge. Float time from Cody is about eight or nine hours.

Photo Caption (image not shown): The Pinball section on the Shoshone River above Cody. Less demanding waters for canoers can be found below Cody.