This photo needs editing.
Difficulty II-V+
Length 17 Miles
Gauge N/A
Flow Range
Reach Info Last Updated 08/26/2019 9:46 pm

River Description


This is a bizarre post-season run courtesy of the ranchers of south-east Wyoming. The water in Wheatland Reservoir #2, which comes from the Laramie River, is siphoned off into Bluegrass Creek. You will have a 17 run with 20+ fences over the creek, 4 V to V+ rapids, 2 or 3 miles of fun III/IV, and 13+ miles of swift moving Class II.


The put-in is truly bizarre with the water coming out of a hole in the side of the hill and transforming an otherwise sagebrush filled desert draw into a class V paddler's oasis . The stream-bed is only as old as the diversion, which was completed in 1886 by Chinese immigrant  labor (history lesson available here: http://widirrigation.com/Home/About).  This inital 2/3 of a mile beginning at the mouth of the Wheatland Tunnel  contains 3 of the major rapids (aka glorious boofs)  on the run.  Those without time to complete the entire run to highway 34, or simply wanting to milk as much whitewater out of their day as possible will enjoy lapping this section via a faint trail on river right.  I also recommend using this trail to scout the entire top section, there are very few eddies and even fewer places where it is easy to get out in this first section of action. 

The unnatural nature of this run is intimidating, and although it does tend to paddle more cleanly and easily than immediate appearances would indicate, you will immediately notice while scouting that this is no place to swim and a scary place to find yourself upside down.   Despite it's bizarre nature, the top 2/3 of a mile  is exceptionally high quality with 3 waterfalls of varying height and technicality.    A splashy and hole strewn run out below the waterfalls careens around several blind corners before  unceremoniously dumping paddlers into the main channel of Bluegrass Creek.  Don't forget to scout this last section, a  midstream boulder hidden in the blind corners claims more carnage than any of the spectacular waterfalls elsewhere on the run.  

After merging into this large (dry) drainage paddlers can relax somewhat, there is about 10 miles of Class II until the next significant rapids; however, prepare to do the back-ferry to barbed-wire limbo maneuver 20+ times negotiating fences  until you reach the take out.  The fences are sketchy, straight up, and paddlers have definitely hit them, gotten stuck, torn clothes etc.  Stay heads up, keep spacing, communicate well and the run can usually be done with no fence portages.  But this is certainly subject to change.  

The action eases back on with 3-4 miles of class III- IV mini gorges and beautiful prairie scenery.  Granite rock formations and frequent wildlife sightings abound. 

Just when paddlers begin to think the class III is about to fade back to flatwater, the creek descends into an obvious gorge.  The Main Event is a spectacular mulit-part rapid that looks like something straight out of California.  A series of slides build in size and intensity through several holes before launching off the powerfully folding lip of the Main Event.  The ambitious should gun for a  monster boof here, but realize that the vast majority (>99%) of lines  will look much more like the flushing of a toilet.  A hectic boiling cauldron leads to a final slide with a powerful hole with a nice  curler boof on river right.  

Below the main event a quick moving 3 mile sprint (with numerous fences)  will deliver paddlers to the highway 34 bridge and their take out.  


Rapid Descriptions

Stampede!

Class - 5.2 Mile - 0
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Stampede!(V+) is an 12' waterfall at the put-in, which funnelizes(aka - no eddys) you into the next 8' pourover that slams into a jagged wall. After that you've got about 150 yard sluice like rapid.

Bucking Bronco

Class - 5.2 Mile - 0.25
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
Bucking Bronco(V+) has 2 or 3 severe lateral cross currents before launching you off a 10' ski jump of a ledge. The run out to Bucking Bronco is about 200 yards of swift eddyless IV+ to V-(depending on waterlevel or who you ask).

Class II

Class - II Mile - 0.5
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At this point you will want to keep a sharp eye out for barbwire fences, you will most likely encounter 20+ before the takeout. Some are in better repair than others. For most of them I was able to find a weak spot and push myself under the wires. But watch out for those well constructed ones with tight wires. There are also a handfull of lowhead dams, we were able to run all of them.

Good Times

Class - IV Mile - 10
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Somewhere around mile 10 to 12 the creek drops into a scenic bedrock canyon. The rapids in here are of the highest quality III with the occasional IV and one IV+. After 2 or 3 miles of good times the rapids will mellow out again for a while before reaching The Main Event

The Main Event

Class - 5.1 Mile - 15
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The Main Event(V) looks like something straight out of California, it is a series 3 big drops carved into smooth bedrock. 1. There is a long bedrock slide that slams into the river right wall, creating a massive hole/pillow 2. Then the creek charges off an 18' waterfall into a cauldron. 3. There is a short inescapable gorge before a final steep 18' slide with a stout hole at the bottom.

Class II

Class - II Mile - 15.5
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Pop some Advil and continue downstream for the final 5 or 6 miles of Class II until the highway. There are some ranch houses near the creek in this final stretch, and this is the location of those well constructed barbwire fences over the creek.

Highway 34

Class - II Mile - 23
Rapid Thumbnail Missing
The takeout. One of the worst fences is right under the bridge, class II with a complete lack of a good eddy above it.

Comments

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Austin Woody
|
6 months ago

As of September, 2019 there was one fence requiring a portage. It is below the Main Event and is fairly obvious with large iron upright posts anchoring it inplace. There is a quick and easy portage on river left. Also, beware of two fences in rapid succession directly below the highway 34 take out bridge. If possible take out above the bridge as soon as it becomes visible.

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Paul Martzen
|
8 years ago

The Wheatland tunnel was constructed between 1883 and 1886 by the Wyoming Development Corporation. Canals #1 & 2 were constructed at the same time. The reservoirs were constructed a bit later; 1901 for reservoir #2. http://waterplan.state.wy.us/plan/platte/atlas/lower/lower_agricultural_irrigation_districts.htm

No Gage

Gage Descriptions

Call 307-742-7657 (auto) or
307-742-0023 (voice) for the outlfow from Wheatland #2.

 

This is primarily an August run, because that's when they release water from the Wheatland Reservoir.

Bluegrass Creek at Highway 32 USGS gauge daily data collected from 1953 to 1979.   Normal max flows from the tunnel appear to be about 600 cfs.

 

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.

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News

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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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Austin Woody

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Paul Martzen

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Matt Muir

Revisions

Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1213525 08/26/19 Austin Woody updated description
1200671 09/14/11 Paul Martzen added historical gauge link
1193339 07/21/04 n/a n/a
1213524 08/26/19 Austin Woody updated stats