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.
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.
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.
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.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
on Bluegrass Creek @Tunnel outlet to Highway 34
a view of Stampede from the put in
Small Version of Main Event
Bluegrass Creek - Main Event - Ben
Bluegrass Creek - Main Event - Bryan
Bluegrass Creek - V+ Put-in Rapid
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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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