Sand Creek, Minnesota, US
|Usual Difficulty||I-II (for normal flows)|
|VERMILLION RIVER NEAR EMPIRE, MN|
|usgs-05345000||150 - 1000 cfs||I-II||00h17m||~ 122 cfs (too low)|
|Likely low. (Confirm via NOAA data on Flow Info tab.) Reference gauge (Vermillion/Empire) is about 26 miles East. It MAY provide some indication of flows here, but correlation likely to be weak.|
An anonymous tipster provides:
When the creek is running there is a hole about 2/3 down the run that is also accessible across some for-sale lots in the Saw Mill Woods neighborhood. There are plenty of nice little drops and some good standing waves.
A short while after leaving the put-in at Hwy.8, you will pass a golf course on the left side. Soon after, the waves begin to build, and form some nice long roller coaster haystacks that are a lot of fun to ride. When the river is at 4'+, these haystacks will go on for a long time, and are a real "hoot". They seem to build, larger and larger, and finally lead in to Nelly's rapids, which has a long series of large haystack waves at this level, and can be recognized by the grafiti on the railroad bridge at the start of the rapids saying "Nelly's Rapids".
You will have a pause in the action paddling the backwaters of a dam. The dam at Lagoon Park is fairly sizable, and should be portaged by most paddlers, on river-left. It looks runnable, and it HAS been run (along the very left edge), at certain water levels, but I would not recommend it. One mistake here could be very dangerous (even with a rope). A very large backroller can develop here and I would not want to be the one trying to explain to the cops if something went wrong. We have run this river many times, at many levels, and we always portage the dam (even though it sometimes looks so very tempting to run it).
It is a very short & easy portage on the left, with a simple put-in at the base of the dam, and some of the best waves on the river are just ahead as the gradient picks up quickly. Immediately around the next right-hand bend is a long straight away filled with some very nice, LARGE standing waves and haystacks (surfable), and a few nice eddies to catch the waves from. This continues for a few hundred yards, then the river curves hard left and goes under 2 bridges.
There is still some active water for a short distance after the Rice Street bridge, before the river turns to just moving water until you reach the take-out on river left at Lions Park (immediately upstream of the Hwy.169 freeway bridges). There is usually a port-a-potty in the small parking lot.
NOTE: Take-out location (Lat/lng) is intentionally off-river, up on shore in the parking lot to force the shuttle directions to work.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.0||Drainage: ~234 sq.mi.||N/A|
|5.3||Painted Gauge / Rice Street Bridge||N/A|
Drainage area at Nelly's Rapids. (Calculation from USGS StreamStats Beta software.)
A long series of large haystack waves, the beginning of which can be recognized by grafiti on the railroad bridge saying "Nelly's Rapids".
Recommended portage, river-left.
A long straight away (a few hundred yards) filled with some very nice, LARGE standing waves and haystacks (surfable), and a few nice eddies to catch the waves from.
There is a gauge on the downstream center pylon of the Rice Street bridge. If you walk out on the northeast side of the railroad bridge, looking upstream, you can easily read the gauge.
At 1.5' the river is fun and doable, but a little scratchy. At 4'3" it is BIG fun waves and some LONG wavetrains.