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Old 06-08-2007   #1
ecarlson972's Avatar
Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 288
Rafting Northgate Canyon info

I am considering rafting Northgate tomorrow and I have never ran it before. If anybody has some info for me I would appreciate it! IS there any dangerous rapids? The water level is at 980 is this ok? Just general knowledge would be awesome!


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Old 06-08-2007   #2
ecarlson972's Avatar
Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 288
Also what about shuttling a vehicle is there enough traffic to hitch a ride? And if anyone one else wants to go let me know!!

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Old 06-08-2007   #3
Tabernash, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 22
Northgate is about a class III run at that level. (a lil' boney in the rapids...)The first half of the day is pretty flat (a rapid or 2) After you float into Wyoming, it gets more exciting. Narrow Falls is the biggest rapid probably - S move R to left and back. Don't miss the takeout if you are on a day trip - river left of a small island and all the current goes right of it. Next take out is abot 12 miles, I think. Boat slide at put in - class V takeout (meaning the walk...)up a hill on a relatively narrow path.

There may be some traffic on a Sat. for shuttle, but I woldn't plan on it...

Have fun!
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Old 06-08-2007   #4
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 36
search back a few days...a guide up there posted allot of info recently and should answer your ?'s.
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Old 06-10-2007   #5
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
Answers, I hope. (the link search on this thing really chews puppy butt)

The online gage for Northgate is: <>

1000 cfs+ is fun for all. 900 means big boats will hit a few rocks and small ones need maneuvering. Below that, it's a workout.

We ran Saturday, at 900 cfs, on the tail of a rainstorm peak, in brilliant sun. The snowpack's low, so there might not be a real high-water blowout this year.

Put in: Routt access, a short right off CO 125, just S of Wyoming border (river in sight). Ramp is a flight of cement steps with rails to slide boats down to river.

Take-out: Six Mile Gap: (CO 125 changes to WY 230) R off hwy about 2 mile, through campground to river parking. River access is a 1/4 mile of steep (but maintained) trail— all gear must be carried up to the parking lot (i.e. light is right).

Shuttle (easy) takes about 40 min. R/T, mostly on pavement. Hitching (or paying one of the outfitters to take you) is a fair bet on weekends Sketchy on weekdays. (Not a bad bike ride.)

The float is about 5 hrs, most of it flat or gentle water. The more difficult rapids are concentrated towards the end. At 1000-1500 cfs (now), I'd rate it 3+, adding a bit as the flow increases. Above 3000 cfs, Narrow Falls flips quite a few rafts: call it a 4+ or a 5. At 5200 cfs (10 yr. flood, in 2005) most boats flipped and some people took long swims.

Main rapids from the Northgate ramp to Six Mile Gap (with notes) are:

-Windy Hole: around first left bend, left run, nice bounce. (then, lots of flat water with small rock gardens)

-Cowpie: a couple hours down. Rocks get tighter over a quarter-mile, with the crux a right run around the cowpie (big mushroom-shaped boulder) then a hard left pull, followed by tail waves that break at higher flows, and rock gardens.

-Narrow Falls: cliffs pull in, ledges and large boulders funnel the flow to a center slot, with a steep drop (I usually go in just right of center) and an immediate pull right, for the big eddy. Left is an undercut cliff face that flips boats, and a rock fence that stops rafts. Kayakers can scout left. Rafts sometimes have trouble ferrying from there back to the best line. At lower water (1000-) rafts can stop just above the falls and scout right. (Line the boat upstream and then pull like a dog to get back in the current.)

At higher flows, boat-scout and give it a go.

-Tootsie Roll: longer & continuous. Large boulders and ledges overlap and step down, with pourovers and several sneaky holes (hard to see from the top). I stay loose, and run mostly to the left.

-Stovepipe: rock garden that forms holes at high flow. Zoom right, avoiding the cliff. Then move left. At the tail, pull far left at the rock tower to make the landing at Six Mile Gap (the channel splits).

(There's a board at the Northgate put-in with a rough map- good for relative distances.)

Happy boating,
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Old 06-12-2007   #6
ecarlson972's Avatar
Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 288
Thanks Chip that is exactly what I needed. We didnt get to run it last weekend but we are going to be up there for sure this weekend!
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Old 06-12-2007   #7
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
Your schedule vs. The River

Check the online gage to see if Northgate's worth the drive. We ran it at about 900 cfs on a falling water level. The next day it was too low for much fun with rafts. It dropped to 500 cfs (skeletal) and is now rising again. That is, it's peaking with each storm (rather than rising for a longer time on snowmelt).

So, before locking into a drive, I'd check the gage a couple times a day. Look at the hydrograph for last 31 days and concentrate on the slope of the rising and falling limbs. Once the rising limb tops off, it'll probably fall just as fast as it rose. You can estimate the rate of rise or fall (e.g. 100 cfs per day) and figure out if you can make it there in time.

I've worked as a hydrologist and this gage-geek stuff is pretty much second nature. It really helps out with planning trips.

If the 'Gate looks decent, I wouldn't mind running with you.

yrs, Chip

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