North Platte - 01. State line to French Creek (Lower Northgate Canyon)

North Platte, Colorado, US/Wyoming, US


01. State line to French Creek (Lower Northgate Canyon)

Usual Difficulty I-III (for normal flows)
Length 12 Miles

Narrow Falls

Narrow Falls
Photo by Ken Cramer taken 05/15/11 @ 1800 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-06620000 400 - 3000 cfs I-III 68d17h58m 64.4 cfs (too low)

River Description

While this river has the Put-in access in Colorado the almost all of the whitewater is in Wyoming.

If there were less than 7 miles of scenic flat water between the put in and the whitewater section of this river I suspect this would be a more popular run.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-09 22:50:04


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.5Windy HoleIII
7.0Cowpie RapidIII
7.5Narrow FallsIII+Hazard
9.5Stove Pipe RapidIII

Rapid Descriptions

Windy Hole (Class III, Mile 0.5)
Windy Hole Rapid The North Platte starts out with a deceivingly fun and steep little Class III rapid named Windy Hole Rapid. Windy Hole Rapid comes up in the first 1/2 mile of the run as the river makes a sharp turn around a bend and look like it is entering a gorge. However do not be lured into a sense of excited anticipation of the upcoming rapids. After Windy Hole the river becomes Class I to II- for 6.5 miles. The scenery is great but there is no whitewater.

Cowpie Rapid (Class III, Mile 7.0)
After a very tiny creek flows in on the right the river changes character. The riverbed is scattered with large boulders, downstream visibility is greatly reduced, and the gradient pick up. This is the start of Cowpie Rapid. The rapid is not really difficult but it merits a Class III and could result in an extended swim and loss of gear if you flip at the top.

Narrow Falls (Class III+, Mile 7.5)
Shortly after Cowpie the canyon pinches in and the gradient picks up. Narrow Falls is the steepest and most difficult of the rapids on the river. The difficulty of this rapid range from a solid Class III to a Class IV at higher flows. The hole at the bottom of Narrow Falls is sticky and good boat control is essential at higher flows to avoid ending up in the hole.

Stove Pipe Rapid (Class III, Mile 9.5)
The river pinches down producing waves, swirling eddies, and some holes. Stove Pipe Rapid is a generic class III rapid. The wave trains are over 100 yards long for this rapid but the difficulty is not great. The takeout is just below on the left and it can be easy to overlook it so be careful.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
May 7 2014 (1715 days ago)
Mark McKinstryDetails
I have run this river at many different flows--from 350 cfs (not recommended in a raft) to 4700
cfs. Low flows (~500 cfs at Northgate Gage ) in small boats can be a lot of fun, although
technical, and the fishing and weather are usually good that time of year (late June and July).
Sometimes we will do 3-day trips and take our time fishing and hiking travelling to Pickeroon. The
river is accessible on the west side of the river at Pickeroon, but it is a high clearance 4WD
road, and not good if it is wet or has snow. High flows above 3,000 can be very PUSHY, with few
eddies and no way to scout rapids in rafts. Kayaks are easier but can still be pushy at flows >
3,000. There are several places to camp in the main canyon above Narrow Falls and a lot places to
camp downstream of 6-mile. At flows > 1,000 cfs it is easy to make a 3-day trip going from
put-in in Colorado to Saratoga, and there is a NICE hotsprings in Saratoga (free). Fishing can be
outstanding. If you have small kids or people that don't want to run the bigger whitewater, they
can hike in 0.25 mile at 6-mile on the first day and join you for the rest of the trip. This is a
nice multi-day trip without need for permit or the crowds. If you travel down below Pickeroon make
sure you know the land ownership and have a good map. There is private land down there and they are
not happy with people trespassing, which includes wading and getting out to take a leak. A good map
is available at fishing stores and maybe the convenience stores in Saratoga or Laramie.
June 8 2011 (2778 days ago)
KENCRAMER (153187)
There is no level where this stretch moves into the class V range although above 3k cfs it becomes
more class IV. The ten mile stretch from the Routt access to Six mile gap has all the big rapids.
Above Stovepipe rapid we call Tootsie Roll rapid which has the largest holes at high water. It
requires moving around as you run through but you definitely want to miss the holes center left and
far left. Above 2k cfs there is a right side run at Narrow Falls which keeps you away from the wall
and the lower left holes, so a bit of a sneak. This is a good wilderness day run with no permit
although not continuous action if you require it.
May 31 2006 (4612 days ago)
Jason SutterDetails
The information on this page appears to describe "Upper" Northgate Canyon reach from the
Routt put-in in Colorado to 6 Mile Gap take-out in Wyoming (approximately 10 miles). The
"Lower" Canyon reach has fewer rapids but great scenery; take-outs for this stretch
include: Pickroon, Big Creek, and Bennet Peak.

Associated Projects

  • Colorado River Access (CO)
    The decades old debate over public use of waterways in Colorado continues, and AW is working to protect the rights of all paddlers to enjoy Colorado's Rivers.