Ogden - 02. Smokey Bear to Rainbow Gardens (The Narrows)

Ogden, Utah, US


02. Smokey Bear to Rainbow Gardens (The Narrows) (The Ogden Narrows)

Usual Difficulty II-V (varies with level)
Length 1.4 Miles
Max Gradient 153 fpm

Stay Left

Stay Left
Photo by Dave Garrity taken 04/98 @ 650cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-10140100 130 - 1600 cfs III-IV 00h57m 13.6 cfs (too low)

River Description

The Narrows: From the Smokey Bear sign putin (across from the Indian Trail trailhead), you get  some class 3 to warm up on.  The Green bridge is the last possible class III takeout, below there are no big eddies, and the drops pick up a little punch as you approach the a drop that is the start of the class 4; sometimes a boof left is possible there. At medium low flows (200-300), it helps to know the line to avoid some FU rocks.  The drops are very continuous but relatively clean. A left eddy that is big enough for a few boats along the rock wall is an option, then comes the Wall Drop along the concrete bend. Go left at the wall drop, or have left boat angle at least, then a big left eddy is the best one on this section. Catch your breath, then peel out and focus again!  A hundred yards below there is an aerated drop called "the demon" that is easier on center-left. The right line here can flip you, and there is a rock on the right just below the hole that has caused a pin. Then it eases off a bit, till the waterfall section. This is a fun little section you can hike laps on even at low flows (200).  At high water there is a sticky hole under the road bridge on the right wall. Below the bridge, at medium flows, the left bank is undercut. Then you pass the hot springs, which have been fenced off since 2014, there is some good eddy hopping in this section, and then the final "narrows" choke, a left line at low flows, which is another good place to road scout for wood.

Wood is often an issue and in previous high water years has caused some very close calls for local paddlers. The good news is you can scout the entire thing from the trail on the north side of the river (cross over the foot bridge near the artificial waterfalls at the mouth of the canyon.) 

Since this run is roadside, its possible for intermediates to do Rainbow Gardens, then the Pineview section, then do the lowest parts of the Narrows, moving the putin upstream a little bit at a time, to get a feel for the run.
There is a roadside putin just above the hotsprings, for the lowest quarter mile of class 4. 
Then putin above the waterfall, either side of the wood footbridge. 
You can also putin a quarter mile upstream of the waterfall, although it involves a boat hike, or a roadside putin from a micro parking spot. This is the "lower half", or "below the demon" section. This is a popular option at higher flows, such as above 650. 

At typical flows its rocky and somewhat shallow, and a full face helmet and elbow pads can be helpful. 
Take out at either a dirt pull out east of Rainbow Gardens (the parking by the new footbridge is handy, on the 12th street/Canyon Road side), or continue on the class III to the Sports Park, below the Eccles Dinosaur Park. 

A teacup diagram of the Pineview and Causey reservoir levels can be found here:
 100% Storage is 110149 a-f
110745/110149 states 101% full. 1101.49 is 1%, so 111250.49 would be exactly 101% full. 
110917/110149, on 6/6/2017. 
111119/110149, on 6/8/2017.

Pineview Reservoir can be selected at this link to get 40 day elevation data. The Ogden below Pineview mainly only has spring releases if the reservoir is full, unless there are flood control concerns, as in 2017.
Reclamation, Upper Colorado Region, Water Operations:
Locations include dozens of reservoirs in CO, UT, NM Pineview, Causey, Jordanelle, Deer Creek, even Joes Valley and Flaming Gorge, Lake Powell, and many others. 
These links changed in April 2016 (and again, updated 2//2017). Choose Pineview, then you can choose a variety of data, like elevation (reservoir level), releases (this appears to be the piped release to the power plant; it does not include the release into the Ogden river), and inflow. Pineview "Top of Active Storage" is 4900.0 feet above sea level. 
Causey Top of Active Storage is 5692 feet (this feeds the South Fork Ogden). 

Utah Snotel Current Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) % of Normal

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-03-28 01:01:46


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.3Green bridgeN/A
0.6Wall dropIV
0.7demon dropIV
1.0wood footbridgeN/APutin Access
1.1Waterfall dropIII+
1.1putin below road bridgeN/A
1.2Narrows chokeN/A
1.3diversion with right eddyIII+Takeout Access Waterfall
1.4old road bridgeN/AAccess
1.5Narrows takeoutN/ATakeout Access Playspot

Rapid Descriptions

Wall drop (Class IV, Mile 0.6)

The Wall drop, AKA Poison Ivy. 

demon drop (Class IV, Mile 0.7)

A cruxy drop that does not really stand out from a bank scout on the north side; and its hard to road scout because there is no shoulder, and no riverbank. A center rock and a left rock form a good center-left line at lower flows, with a lateral wave on the right side that is tricker. One problem with flipping here is the pinny rock on the right, immediately below. 
At med-high flows like 700 the leadin laterals tend to push you right, which is a tougher line through the hole. 

wood footbridge (Class N/A, Mile 1.0)

You can putin under this bridge on the north side, for the short version of "waterfall laps", or hike upstream for a longer version. 

Waterfall drop (Class III+, Mile 1.1)

Easily road scoutable and photographable. IV- (which is not an option here). 

putin below road bridge (Class N/A, Mile 1.1)

For a short intro to the Narrows you can putin just downstream of the road bridge.

Narrows choke (Class N/A, Mile 1.2)

Often collects wood on the top rock. A quick bank scout from the road. Just downstream of the huge pipe over the road. A nice right eddy above. 
At lower flows the right line is too bumpy, so the tight left "narrows" is done. 

diversion with right eddy (Class III+, Mile 1.3)

Diversion grate on right with right eddy, collects wood that can jut out into the line. 
Search for the clean line through the boulder jumble. 
This putin for Rainbow Gardens is a bit more technical than the rest of that run. 

old road bridge (Class N/A, Mile 1.4)

This is strictly a footbridge now, with a large eddy on the right; possible putin for Rainbow Gardens section (the furthest upstream putin for Rainbow Gardens that does not increase the difficulty).

Narrows takeout (Class N/A, Mile 1.5)

The most popular takeout, just past the newer footbridge, with plenty of free parking on the north side.
Some levels form a surf wave at the secondary wave under the footbridge.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 23 2017 (513 days ago)
danamycottam (158939)
new almost river wide huge log in narrows section. also new smaller tree at start of narrows that
also takes up 3/4 of river. Both are passable but be aware
June 16 2017 (520 days ago)
danamycottam (158939)
There is a river wide log on this run now with a window between the branches that you can run. It
was running 318 today and it was not to pushy before the tree and you can see it coming from along
way away. But its not a spot that you can scout from the road
July 9 2012 (2323 days ago)
brendanmackey (154676)
200-250 Is a level that is runnable allowing for boofs and spotting for later high water level runs
May 4 2005 (4946 days ago)
David GarrityDetails
I drove by this the other day and it looked very runnable. At 650cfs, there was plenty of water,
but it doesn't look much worse at 1000. My guess is that somewhere around 400 - 500 is minimal.

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.

Or, consider donating