Rosebud Creek, West, Montana, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV+(V) (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||150 fpm|
|Max Gradient||200 fpm|
|W Rosebud Cr at Emerald Lk Campground nr Roscoe|
|usgs-06204070||300 - 750 cfs||III-IV+(V)||13d14h43m||98.2 cfs (too low)|
provided by Ron Lodders, photos by Dave Gulbrandson
|The West Rosebud is a rambunctious creek dropping out of a spectacular glacier-carved valley along the front of the Beartooth Mountains of Montana. Lined with huge orange tiger lilies and other wildflowers, this creek drops quickly through several steep sections of whitewater interspersed with fast but flat scenic flows. It offers two class V+ rapids, long and continuous stretches of class IV water, short class III canyons and lazy floats through scenic meadows. Flows are controlled by releases from Mystic Lake Dam and Powerplant, which have historically made this run available to paddlers during the long, warm days of July and August rather the colder days of Montana's usual spring creek season. The Mystic Lake Dam will be relicensed by FERC in 2009, and all paddlers have a stake in making sure adequate flows are preserved and perhaps improved in both volume and predictability so this outstanding recreational resource remains accessible to boaters from across the country.|
|Mike boofing at Stump|
American Whitewater and Beartooth Padders worked with the dam owner and other stakeholders to negotiate late-season optimal whitewater release on West Rosebud Creek. After the dam begins spilling, which can be tracked here, and flows begin to drop just below runnable levels, PPL will release extra water on weekends to bring flows back into the optimal range. When flows drop too low, releases are no longer possible. To plan your trip, simply apply the West Rosebud USGS gage reading to the agreed upon release protocol. More information can be found on the PPL West Rosebud Website.
|Head waters at Grasshopper Glacier|
The West Rosebud is usually divided into two distinct sections by local paddlers. The short but fun Upper run is about two and a half miles long and contains almost continuous whitewater. The longer Lower run is more than 10 miles long, with most of that distance in a wilderness setting. Although this lower stretch begins with the two most difficult rapids on the river and ends with a mile of fun Class IV, it has long sections of scenic flat water. In combination, the West Rosebud offers a unique opportunity for a full range of creeking conditions during warm summer days.
|The put-in for the Upper run is easy and beautiful---just slide into Emerald Lake and enjoy the spectacular view of the still snow-covered peaks of the Beartooth Mountains while the slowest member of the party is still struggling with boating gear. The West Rosebud ramps down quickly from the outlet of Emerald Lake. The first half- mile of the run drops at an average rate of about 150 fpm through two rapids. The first rapid, Spillway,tends to be rocky at almost any level as the river widens and sweeps around a right turn visible from the road on the way to the put-in. A big eddy on the left turn near the bottom of the rapid also marks the beginning of the more difficult second rapid, Triple Tongue. At higher water levels, this rapid can become pushy.|
|After a half mile of fast and increasingly interesting water, the river enters the second steep section. This stretch, over a mile long, contains the best rapids on the Upper run. The first horizon line leads to an island and marks Snake, where the line is usually down the left channel. The hardest rapid on this run, Stump, is also marked by a horizon line and deserves a scout the first time down. At higher water levels (above 2.5 on the bridge gage), this rapid is a class V with three large, offset holes. Snag is not far below, again marked by an island, and usually run down the narrower right channel. Finally, Goat Boy is a long rapid with several large holes near the end. At present, a partially submerged log spanning the entire creek makes the upper part of the rapid more hazardous.|
|Carla at Snake|
|The West Rosebud is much easier from Goat Boy down to the takeout at Pine Grove Campground. This run is usually done several times in one day if paddlers don't decide to continue on down the lower West Rosebud|
|The Lower run begins with slow, flat water with occasional logjams after leaving Pine Grove Campground. Not long after the river re-enters forested hillsides, it turns left and drops over an obvious horizon line. The West Rosebud drops over 100 feet in the next 800 yards, creating two Class V+ rapids. The first, Thorpe, presents a technical line down to a constriction against the left wall and a benign-looking hole that always seems bottomless. After a short section of flat water, the second rapid, Terminal Moraine, is almost always portaged on the right. This rapid, immediately above another island, presents the full array of hazards, including obstructions, drops and wood.||
|Ron at Goatboy|
|The river regains a quieter mood after Terminal Moraine. With the exception of two short canyons with Class III water, the river offers a scenic float for nearly four miles down to the second bridge that was traversed on the way up to the put-in. Below the bridge, the pace picks up again, and the West Rosebud drops 160 feet in the next mile in an exhilarating Class IV finish. Portions of this section are visible from the road on the way up to Emerald Lake, and should be checked for wood. The takeout is marked by an irrigation diversion on the right bank. A short walk from the river brings paddlers back to the shuttle vehicle parked in a small, flower-filled meadow.|
|Ron at Goatboy|
Intervention of American Whitewater on the Preliminary Permit application for the West Rosebud Hydroelectric Project proposed by Hydrodynamics Inc. (FERC P-13532).
In the 2007 whitewater paddler survey, boaters were asked to complete a questionnaire after each run down the creek, and their responses were tied to the flow they boated.
PPL Montana is partnering with American Whitewater and the Beartooth Paddling Club to identify a preferred range of whitewater boating flows on West Rosebud Creek below Emerald Lake.
PPL Montana conducted a whitewater flow study of West Rosebud Creek in 2004-05, with the assistance of the Beartooth Paddlers and American Whitewater.