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Difficulty II-III+
Length 0.5 Miles
Gauge ~ VERMILLION RIVER NEAR EMPIRE, MN
Flow Range 80 - 450 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 49 minutes ago 751 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 01/03/2018 11:16 pm

River Description


There are several nice holes for surfing and blasting at 100 cfs and higher. The holes are shallow, and the rocks are sharp, so be very careful about flips and upstream braces. At higher flows (over 500cfs), the holes become very sticky and the reach (overall) will merit a class IV rating, due to being relatively narrow, constricted, twisty, and relatively continuous. It's a real short run with a trail along side (in a park), so you can carry up to do it again and again and again. 

Boaters are also encouraged to support the "Friends of the Vermillion River Water Trail" (FVRWT, 'favorite'), which has a brochure available online here.

Note that water quality is generally quite poor, so nose plugs are a good idea. The stream is on the list of 'impaired waters' due to fecal coliform bacteria levels, which exceed recommended levels for any contact with the water, especially after a "rain event". For more info see Minnesota Polution Control Agency.

The following video (courtesy 'FacePlant' and YouTube) is helmet-cam footage for a boater's-eye view of the run.

Rapid Descriptions

Comments

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Nora Whitmore
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6 years ago

The USGS gauge is notoriously incorrect after big rain events. There is a stick gauge on the mill just above the falls. Here is a collection of videos that show the actual river according the the measurement on the stick gauge. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC662C0FC68F0BDC0

Summary of Gauge Readings

The cited gauge is 17.3 river-miles upstream. A handful of decent sized tribs enter below. Drainage area at the gauge is 129 sq.mi., while at a defunct gauge listed  drainage of 195 sq.mi. within a mile upstream of the listed put-in. Thus if/when the entire watershed contributes flow evenly/proportionally, flow in this reach would generally be nearly 1.5 times flow listed on the gauge! On the other hand, when localized rains hit tribs unevenly, flow in the whitewater reach could vary significantly from expectations based upon flow reported by the upstream gauge. Quite regularly the gauge may 'under-report', I.E., this could be boatable (even moderate flows!) when gauge says it's too low (if rain hit tribs other than where gauge is). Also possible (less often), the gauge may 'over-report', showing higher flows than yet exist in the whitewater reach (eg., if reaches above the gauge get hit with rain, and it hasn't worked its way downriver to the whitewater reach). Thus, first-hand on-site observation of the reach is needed to confirm actual conditions.

Some local folks will boat this with reported flows as low as 50 cfs or so. Obviously things will be scrapey, but a couple spots are available for tame play. The 'minimum' as set here is for a more reasonable play experience with more features formed up for good play. 
The 'maximum' as set here is more an indicator of a 'bump up' in difficulty level. The river is definitely runnable/playable much higher. (There are reported runs at 1300 cfs and more!)

Based upon the latest 22 years of data,

Maximum Daily Mean Flow: 3000 cfs
Minimum Daily Mean Flow: 14 cfs
10% Flow: 153 cfs
90% Flow: 26 cfs
10/90 Ratio: 5.88 (The 10/90 ratio of 5.88 indicates this would be classified as only a moderately 'flashy' stream. A disclaimer here that the analysis is only upon "mean daily flow", thus will not accurately reflect the effect of instantaneous spikes of duration less than a day which often affect urban streams, smaller streams, and streams with less permeable surface in their watershed.)

Gauge NameReadingTimeComment
VERMILLION RIVER NEAR EMPIRE, MN
AW Gauge Info
751 cfs ℹ️ 00h49m USGS gauge (129 sq.mi. drainage) is 17.3 river miles upstream. Actual flow in this reach might average 1.5 times what the gauge reads.
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Directions Description


This is a park-and-play, so 'shuttle' is generally hiking back upriver to your vehicle (or, likely, to put-in again for multiple play/runs).

 

Use the text-entry box below to input your home or other starting location to get drive time, distance, and directions to this river/reach.

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No Accident Reports

Alerts

News

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Penobscot River Dams to be Removed!

2003-12-01 00:00:00-05
Kevin Colburn

Atlantic Salmon and other imperiled fish species will soon have hundreds of additional miles of habitat. A recent decision between a power company, NGO's, tribes, and government agencies calls for the removal of two dams on Maine's Penobscot River and the bypassing of a third. American Whitewater applauds this huge win for rivers and is recruiting volunteers to assist with our work on the project. There is a public meeting December 2nd.
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