USGS Gage Station CFS near Dubois.
The Wind River begins in the Shoshone National Forest about half way between Jackson and Dubois. About fifty miles southeast of the headwaters it enters the Wind River Indian Reservation where it continues southeast to Boysen State Park. There the river turns north through the Wind River Canyon where it leaves the reservation at the "Wedding of the Waters". Here the river changes its name to the Bighorn River.
The best put-in is at US-287 mile #38 where the Warm Springs Creek Road crosses the river near a small parking area. The upper section is narrow and fairly fast with a few tight turns and rates a Class II. The major obstacles are numerous wire fences (12) and low bridges (5) that sometimes occur at very inconvenient places. Due to low flows, this upper section is often floatable only in a kayak.
About 10 miles from the put-in, the river leaves the highway for three miles and flows through a small canyon. This stretch can be a bit difficult. The river narrows and picks up speed as it twists through tight bends. There are overhanging trees and downed timber through here so use caution when going around blind corners. The most difficult area is just after passing by some summer homes where the river cuts through a gap in the ridge. This area contained a huge strainer when I was here and necessitated a difficult portage over slumps and through heavy timber. If the strainer has been cleared and the cut is open, beware of possible standing waves and boulders.
After going under the highway bridge at mile #45, you pass by a small heron rookery near the DuNoir Creek Confluence. Here the river meanders a bit and is slow and wide. Below the second highway bridge and an old wooden bridge is the DuNoir Public Access (mile #47). Just downstream the river passes through a narrows. Below the narrows is a bridge and small diversion dam. You then have a couple of fences and a few more bridges. The sixth bridge is a large iron structure where the road to the airport crosses the river. You then go under a low footbridge and two more bridges to the outskirts of Dubois. Just downstream is a red bluff and a small parking area at the town park take-out. Total float time is about six hours.
The lower section below Dubois is a more difficult Class II as the river contains many large boulders and is considerably faster with a greater volume of water. There is also a Class III/IV section about five miles from Dubois in a rocky restriction called Fish Canyon . Part of this area can be viewed from the edge of the highway near mile #60 and by looking upriver at mile #61. Below Fish Canyon are solid Class II rapids. There are several fishing access points to take out at, but the best is at mile #62 or mile #64. At any rate, you need to take out by mile #65 because the bridge at mile #67 is where the East Fork Wind River joins the Wind River and enters the reservation. Floating below here is limited to commercial outfitters licensed by the Indian Reservation.
Photo Caption (image not shown): The most difficult section on the Wind River is a short run below Dubois called Fish Canyon.