Riviere de Plat

Tumbling Down the North Platte

Its name would not be a siren call to whitewater enthusiasts. "Riviere de Plat," the name applied to the Platte River by early French explorers, means the flat river. But shove off from the headwaters of the North Platte beneath Colorado's Rabbit Ears and Never Summer mountains and you will find a tumbling descent plenty challenging even for expert kayakers.

From the Routt put-in in northern Colorado to the first take-out 12 miles later at Six Mile Gap in Wyoming, the river cascades through Northgate Canyon. Although the rapids start early, the first half of this run is relatively tame. But a few miles above Six Mile, the rollercoaster really begins. With a maximum gradient of 40 feet/mile, the rapids develop into Class III and IV.

Below Six Mile, boaters continue to feast their eyes on the magnificence of Northgate Canyon, but the water settles down. For those wanting to take a couple of days for the 18 miles from Routt to the Pickaroon takeout, there are good campsites all along this stretch.

Below Pickaroon, the river sets into a long easy stretch, with some Class I and II rapids. The run is 16 miles from Pickaroon to the take-out at Bennett Peak Campground. Private land abuts the river the entire distance, so boaters will find no access or camping until Bennett Peak Campground.

For most of its run through Wyoming, the North Platte is prime trout fishing water. Not particularly well-known compared to other fabled streams of the Rockies, and offering spectacular landscapes, it makes an outstanding float for fishermen.

More on fishing the North Platte.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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