Clarks Fork Yellowstone - 4. The Box

Clarks Fork Yellowstone, Wyoming, US


4. The Box

Usual Difficulty V+ (for normal flows)
Length 22.9 Miles
Avg. Gradient 89 fpm
Max Gradient 229 fpm

Deep Six

Deep Six
Photo of Barry Bohrer by David Schroeder taken 08/02 @ 650

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Clarks Fork Yellowstone River nr Belfry MT
usgs-06207500 500 - 1200 cfs V+ 00h53m 283 cfs (too low)

River Description

Shrouded in lore and mystery, the Box Canyon of the Clarks Fork Yellowstone is one of the definitive multi-day class V kayaking trips in North America. It is also one of the most dangerous. The third deepest canyon in the United States and by far the least accessible, the Box is home to uncountable sieves, undercuts, and powerful cascades on the grandest of scales.
In places, sheer granite walls 1200' high rise dramatically from the tumbling class V waters. Scouting from shore, one cannot contain the spectacle at a glance. It is simply too immense. The roaring waters and solemn stone are in perfect harmony here, singing of a secret few have shared. It is like no other place on earth.
The rapids found deep in the gorge are pure bliss for the intrepid kayaker. Steep and demanding, the physical challenges coupled with the unparalleled aesthetics of the canyon itself leave little to be desired and the knowledge that escape on foot is impossible for nearly the entire length of the run adds a level of intensity rarely found in kayaking.
Though hiking around the numerous mandatory portages is painstaking work, it is well worth the effort as each offers a surreal view of powerful, raw elements churning and crashing in a humbling display of ferocity. The Box is an epic in all regards. Its grandeur will forever elude eloquence and imagery.
In August, 2003, a group of seven paddlers, including myself, dropped below the "last chance" eddy above the sixth and final portage. Coming down an easy slide to a blind corner, we realized our mistake too late. All 7 boaters were flushed into a terrible, unrunnable cascade laced with caves, sieves, and undercuts. Daniel Louis Crain, a great man, was lost. Though several members of the team had not been through the Box before, three of us had made the portage a combined 5 times. Not one of us remembered the spot� The Clarks Fork Box is not to be taken lightly. An experienced group of solid boaters, with their guard down momentarily, can be met with disaster in the blink of an eye. Taking on this run without the benefit of someone who knows the Box well would be a daunting task indeed. Do your homework, know your flows, and exercise extreme caution if you choose to pursue the Clarks Fork Box.

Check out Mike Albrecht's photos of The Box


The various reaches of the Clarks Fork Drainage:
Styx and Stones (Class V+/VI),
The Upper (Class IV/V+),
Honeymoon (Class IV/V+),
The Box (Class V+/VI),
Lower (Class IV/V), and
Crandall Creek (Class IV).



StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2008-05-26 13:57:55


Rapid Descriptions

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