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Old 12-20-2013   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 78
North Platte Camping.

Howdy all. I am still fairly new to the area and have yet to get out on the upper North Platte. I know the season is still months away but I want to be ready this time around. I have been researching all the details but there are a few areas I am still a bit fuzzy about.

One big one is camping. The section that has the most interest to me is Six mile to Treasure island. From the maps I see that there is plenty of camping and public land for the first 10 miles or so. After that there are a few spots scattered through a lot of private land.

#1 what are the camp spots like, are they a one group type of spot or is there room for multiple parties. On a busy week/weekend at peak season is it possible that you might not find a camp spot?

#2 do I need to stick to designated spots or can you camp on any BLM land?

The second area is the ideal CFS range. I run a 13ft raft. I travel very light with gear, I come from backpacking and I keep it similar when doing overnight rafting trips. I would say my boat is on the light side of a normal 13ft raft set up for 1-2 nights on the water. I have read some conflicting reports about ideal CFS range. I have seen that below 500 would be a no go but is that correct for your experience? I do not mind thin water but I rather avoid walking the raft at points.

On the high end I have seen CFS up to 4500 that people have talked about. What is the peak that would keep you off the river.

I have also seen that from Six mile down is class II maybe II+ but what about at high water, do things change much?

Sorry for the long note, I am just trying to get some advice on these two topics, CFS and Camping. I have read all the previous posts I could find and there was some great info so now I am just trying to get a few second opinions so I can compare.


T1112 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-21-2013   #2
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 53
I can't answer your questions about camping. But ran Northgate at around 3700 CFS once. I would have to call it pretty exciting at that level. Looking forward to the responses you get, as I would also like to do a couple of nights on this run this year.

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Old 01-02-2014   #3's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 491
Its Wyoming!! Be very careful not to anchor, walk or camp on private land!! That includes the river bottom. Ranchers have guns and an a attitude. Fishing can be great.
I've only done Saratoga to interstate 80 so don't have any knowledge about upstream from there. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2014   #4
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
I ran Northgate at over 5000 cfs alongside a commercial raft trip. At those flows it was fantastic. Better than high water Brown's and in spite of the commercial trip I was with no one else on the river. I would consider narrows a CL IV with some technical maneuvering and some big water features. Many rapids had raft flipping features though our trip was clean. Some of the rapids run into each other so climbing on and righting a raft mid wave train should be in your skill set.

We took out at six mile so not much help for the lower canyon. It seemed like more of a camping trip but for the effort of dragging your boat down the put-in ramp you should just run the whitewater in my opinion. Unfortunately I think good whitewater flows would be sub-optimal fishing.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 01-03-2014   #5
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
The best advice I have for that section of the North Platte is bring a mosquito head net. Wyoming can rival Alaska for those pesky bugs.

Wyoming river access laws allow you to float through the private sections, but no touching the bottom. That includes anchoring or stopping on shore for a pee. The public vs private can be hard to keep track of. The river meanders through a patchwork of 1 mile square checkerboard of private lands with about 10% of the squares designated 'public'. There are small color coded signs that are supposed to mark the boundries, but often hard to see due to old age and vegetation. There are places where a single bend in the river can be left side public and right side private, then switch back and forth every 50 yards or so.

Below North Gate Canyon the private land is mostly developed ranch and grazing with a few private hunting and fishing clubs. So it's not exactly floating through a wilderness area. Local fishing guides pay the private land holder for access, so just beause you see a boat on shore doesn't mean it a public section. Most of the camp sites are also accessed via public roads so you will be competing for camping space.

The fishing guides and private clubs have a big finacial interest in protecting there 'private property rights' and can be aggressive about busting peole for touching bottom. I've heard stories of private security teams video taping folks with remote cameras as they float through and being met by the sheriff at the take out.

The local sporting and river groups negotiate with the private land owners to create contigious sections of public land. As a result the public/private boundries can change yearly. They publish a good river map that has a clear deliniation of the current boundries. Check in with on of the local outfitters or fly fishing shops to get a current map and have them pencil in any recent changes.
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Old 01-03-2014   #6
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
Northgate is one of my favorite butt kicking times.
Ran once at 6,500; we went from Routt access to 6 mile in less than an hour (really!). Perhaps the most adrenalin loaded trip of my career. I don't recommend doing high water Northgate unless you are fully prepared.

We used to camp across from 6 mile; don't know if it was public or private, but we often saw other campers there who drove in.

We ran to Bennett peak the second day, so camping wasn't an issue, and we never had run ins with private owners.

Keep in mind; once you start into Northgate canyon stopping or climbing out is pretty much not an option. The best and easiest out is 6 mile.
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Old 01-03-2014   #7
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 75
A friend of mine and I did a 3 day 2 night canoe/kayak self-support during the first few days of June last year from 6-Mile to TI. Our initial plans were to camp on public land and have nights out away from the crowds. Plans change. We camped at the Pickaroon and Bennett Peak campgrounds. We were alone at Pickaroon. Bennett Peak was a touch busier, but not by much with the exception of the knock-down drag-out brawl between two drunk guys at the boat launch site. I digress. It seemed as if there were more on-river camps to choose from above Pickaroon.

Flows last year were somewhere around 800 cfs and dropping. It was a good flow for not having to paddle much. By the next week, flows were around 400.

Fishing seemed to be awesome for the few folks we saw on the water. Bugs were not an issue on our trip, although others have had less pleasant experiences. It did get pretty chilly overnight. Water bottles slushed up. We were lucky with the wind. On the two days prior to the trip, winds were in excess of 50 mph on a sustained basis.

Have fun relaxing. The hardest part of the trip was carrying the gear to the put-in at 6-Mile and then paddling to the main current from the river left channel.
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Old 01-03-2014   #8
Radville, Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 26
Wyoming fish and game publishes a river runners specific map showing all of the put ins, take outs, public lands, etc. There are developed campgrounds (with ramps) below NG canyon, otherwise it's find your own spot. NG canyon has some established camping sites, but it's first come. Some of the developed campgrounds may get full on summer peaks (say 4th of july), but there is still plenty of undeveloped camping in the area. Generally you won't see another boat up there, so camping isn't an issue.

Private property is a HUGE issue up there, so be sure to do your homework.

Flows really depend on section. i know the local fishing guides up there sort of consider 300-350 the minimum for most sections. At those flows you'll almost certainly have to get out once in awhile, depending on your ability to row really low water stuff.

Nortgate is generally class III until you cross about 3000 CFS, when it starts to develop some nasty keeping holes. They're easy to see and miss, but for less experienced boaters it can spell trouble. I've run 6 mile up to about 5k, and it would call it III-III+ at that level. It's not all that hard, but unless you have experience with flood stage sort of things, i wouldn't attempt it alone. i'd call it class II+-III- from 3000-5000. in that range eddies get a little small, and things happen quickly. all that said, it's actually relatively rare for flows to even break 2500 cfs. basically if the north platte is running, you should get up there.

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