This photo needs editing.
Difficulty I-III
Length 12 Miles
Gauge NORTH PLATTE RIVER NEAR NORTHGATE, CO
Flow Range 400 - 3000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 38 minutes ago 143 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 07/09/2017 10:50 pm

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.



Rapid Descriptions

Windy Hole

Class - III Mile - 0.5
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Comments

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Mark McKinstry
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5 years ago

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.

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8 years ago

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.

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Jason Sutter
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13 years ago

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.

Gage Descriptions

It is floatable at flows as low as 400 cfs,
optimal at 1000 - 3000 (III-IV),
risky above 3000 (IV+).

Take Out

41.008,-106.55

Permits

NA

Directions Description


We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports

Alerts

News

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Land and Water Conservation Fund Secures Access to Upper Colorado River

5/8/2019
Hattie Johnson

A bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was introduced last month by Colorado Senator Cory Gardener and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and cosponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. If passed the bill would provide $900M annually for projects protecting natural, cultural and historic resources. Existing funding from the LWCF recently enabled the transfer of two important river access points on the Upper Colorado River. The State Bridge and Two Bridges parcels were owned by Eagle County and had been improved - boat ramps, parking, restroom/changing facilities - by the Eagle County Open Space program with coordination and management support from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This land transfer will protect public access at these locations in perpetuity. 

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AW releases Saint Vrain and Lefthand Creek Recreational Flow Study - CO

12/14/2018
Nathan Fey

Longmont, Colorado - As part of a comprehensive Stream Management Plan for the St Vrain Creek Watershed, American Whitewater is collecting and compiling data on recreational uses, and identifying projects and strategies to improve stream health, recreation, and environmental conditions in the region. You can help with this extensive effort. Please participate in the Recreational Flow survey.

 

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Support Colorado River Access on Colorado Gives Day!

11/29/2018
Kestrel Kunz

Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!

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Voluntary River Closure Proposed On the Slate River (CO)

11/2/2018
Kestrel Kunz

Crested Butte CO - Alleged disruption to a Heron Rookery and concerned private landowners have led to a "Voluntary Closure" of the Slate River from the Gunsight Bridge to the Town of Crested Butte between March 15 and June 21 for the 2019 season. The Slate River between Oh Be Joyful Campground and Skyland Bridge, a 10.5 mile stretch, provides an incredibly scenic and unique flatwater paddling experience in the Gunnison Valley. The Voluntary clsoure is a product of the Slate River Floating Management Plan, created by a Working Group convened by the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Working Group was created in direct response to pressure from the local community including conservationists and private landowners adjacent to the river, who are concerned that a recent increase in boating activity is disturbing a Heron Rookery that straddles the Slate River. 

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AW Comments on Colorado Nat'l Forest Wilderness Process

9/5/2018
Kestrel Kunz

Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer. 

Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)

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TAKE ACTION: Comment on the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Management Plan

11/1/2017
Kestrel Kunz

ARKANSAS RIVER, Colo. - The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is revising their Management Plan for the first time since 2001. The new Draft Plan was made publicly available in October and the AHRA is accepting public comments through November 10, 2017 (next week!). In order to design effective and productive comments, American Whitewater has thoroughly reviewed the Draft Plan, discussed the Plan with our local Affiliate Clubs, attended AHRA Public Open Houses, and reached out to key members of the local paddling community. To make it easy for you to SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS, American Whitewater staff have compiled our key concerns and comments for your review. 

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Colorado Honors the legacy of Matt Brown

10/30/2017
Nathan Fey

Gunnison, Colorado - Last Wednesday, Matt Brown - longtime river guide, adventurer, and pillar of the Gunnison Valley community- passed away tragically after an accident in Moab. Matt was so much to so many.  At the request of his family and friends, contributions in Matt's memory can be made to American Whitewater’s River Access work in Colorado.  Matt was a strong ally and advisor in our work to protect the public’s rights to float and fish in the State.  We miss him immensely.

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Comments needed on Upper Colorado River Recreation Area Management Plan

8/28/2017
Nathan Fey

Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit;  a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.

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Save The Date: Wild West River Fest (WY)

7/3/2017
Kestrel Kunz

Cody, Wyoming - This August 19 & 20 the Wild West Paddle Club is hosting the 2017 Wild West River Fest in Cody, Wyoming. In celebration of the beautiful Shoshone River, the Fest has events for everyone - Slalom Race, Class II Sprint, Shoshone Canyon Boater Cross, and many other fun activities for the whole family! Weekend festivities are free to the public, with the exception of race registration fees for competitors. You can find a full schedule here and all competitors need to register online in advance.  

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Gore Fest 2017 is a few weeks away!

8/9/2017
Nathan Fey

Bond, Colorado - American Whitewater is presenting Gore Canyon Festival - August 25-27th 2017Online registration is open and there are events for everyone, so sign up today! 

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A Successful River Cleanup on the St. Vrain (Lyons, CO)

6/7/2017
Kestrel Kunz

On Sunday, nearly 50 people gathered on the banks of the St. Vrain River to pick up trash from the water and the shoreline. We started the day off with Hotbox Roasters coffee and donuts, and a few words about River Stewardship – the common cause that brought us all together. We found bedframes, rusty nails, lawn chairs, car doors, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, and it doesn’t stop there. Our findings are likely a combination of leftover debris from the floods, illegal waste dumping along the river, and built up trash from years of careless passers-by. Thank you to all those that came out for the river cleanup! American Whitewater depends on our affiliate clubs, members, and dedicated volunteers in order to tackle our many River Stewardship projects.  

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Releases to Lower Dolores River certain in 2017.

2/17/2017
Nathan Fey

Cortez, Colorado - Last week, American Whitewater met with local water managers, fisheries biologists, an other interests in Dolores River water, to start negotiating releases from McPhee Dam - like we do every spring.  This year, things are looking very good for the Dolores...

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Upper Colorado River Access funded by Land & Water Conservation Fund - CO

2/6/2017
Nathan Fey

Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County. 

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One more day to submit input on Colorado's Brown Canyon National Monument!

1/17/2017
Kestrel Kunz

There is only one more day left to share what you value most in the Browns Canyon National Monument planning area! The Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to develop a Coordinated Management Plan for Browns Canyon National Monument. In order to design a plan that most benefits citizens and visitors of Colorado, the agencies designed an Online Survey and Mapping Tool to understand how the public interacts with the Browns Canyon planning area and what aspects of the area are most important to the public.

 

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New Report on Impact to San Miguel River From Proposed Reservoirs

1/9/2017
Evan Stafford

Colorado - American Whitewater has released a new study on whitewater recreation in the San Miguel River Basin. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) requested that Montrose County consult with American Whitewater on recreational needs and future impacts for the San Miguel River. Montrose County acquired conditional water rights to the San Miguel River in hopes of building multiple new reservoirs on BLM land. American Whitewater worked with Montrose County’s agents to assess the impact its conditional storage proposals would have on existing recreational opportunities. 

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Proposed Asphalt and Gravel Mine threatens the Upper Colorado River

12/6/2016
Evan Stafford

A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.

 

 
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Lyons Outdoor Games and Burning Can to Support AW

5/15/2013
Nathan Fey

Lyons, Colorado - For the second year in a row, Oskar Blues Brewery is hosting the Burning Can Festival at this year Lyons Outdoor Games.  Burning Can, which takes place under the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park and the St. Vrain River, is a celebration of good beer, served in a can.  This year, All money raised from Lyons Outdoor Games recycled cans will be donated to American Whitewater. See you there!

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AW launches Flow Study for Yampa River

3/3/2011
Nathan Fey

Colorado - American Whitewater is conducting a study of flow-recreation relationships for the Yampa Basin, and identifying specific metrics for use in the Watershed Flow Evaluation Tool. This study is intended to inform local, state, and federal planning efforts as to the full range and quality of recreational boating opportunities for the Wild and Scenic suitable Yampa River, as well as the Elk and White Rivers, and their tributaries. Your participation in the flow survey is requested.

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River Access Task Force Submits Recommendations to Colorado Governor

2/2/2011
Nathan Fey

Colorado - On December 23, Governor Bill Ritter issued a report outlining a series of proposals for resolving disputes between landowners and rafters in Colorado. He also signed an executive order creating the River Access Mediation Commission to provide a way for some of the most contentious conflicts between boaters and property owners to be addressed. The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force was a 17-member group created in July of 2010 to help craft ways to sort out conflicts on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise.

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Help Protect the Yampa River - Colorado

9/30/2010
Nathan Fey

Colorado - Last month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released their proposed management plan for the Little Snake Resource Area, encompassing over a million acres of soaring plateaus, wild and scenic rivers, and sweeping sagebrush basins.  Special interests are trying to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to protect portions of the Yampa River – one of the nation's last free flowing rivers.    Let BLM know that protections for these rivers are important to you!

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Take Action on Colorado's Right to Float Bill!

3/4/2010
Nathan Fey

This spring, the Colorado Legislature is considering a bill, which helps protect the rights of commercial boaters to float on commercial sections of river, and increases the safety of boaters by decriminalizing incidental contact with private land to portage obstacles. HB -1188 is a good bill, but doesn't go far enough! HB-1188 passed out of the House by a vote of 40-25, and is scheduled to be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote on March 17th. We urge you to contact members of Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to support HB-1188, and to amend the bill to include all members of the paddling public.

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Thomas O'Keefe

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Kestrel Kunz

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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1200307 06/19/11 Thomas O'Keefe photo added
1207996 07/09/17 Kestrel Kunz
1207993 07/09/17 Kestrel Kunz
1192258 06/04/07 n/a n/a