Northgate Canyon

Class III

General Information

  • American Whitewater Page : North Platte, Stateline to French Creek (Lower Northgate Canyon)
  • Northgate Canyon is a wonderfully scenic multiday run. The first day is the only day with any whitewater, however, the entire run is still tons of fun and incredibly beautiful. As this river is fed by the snowmelt runoff, it has runable flows seasonally, and I highly recommend catching it at somepoint. It was around 1,100 CFS when I ran it in May of 2018, and this was a very fun level.
  • When I ran this section, I went all the way to Treasure Island, and we spent 2 nights on the river.

    • The first day contained all of the whitewater and it occurred about 7 miles into the first day, all happening right above the 6 mile gap river access point. You could either launch here at 6 mile, if you wanted to have a multiday class I - II float, or take out here if you only wanted to run the upper section of Northgate Canyon for a day trip.
    • The second part, is quite scenic despite not having much whitewater, and I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it is along the river. I was able to find hammock camping spots at each of our campsites that we picked, and we were able to get in a nice scramble up out of the canyon at one point to gain a nice view of Bennett Peak. I think it could be a fun side goal to try and bag that peak on a multiday trip.

River Sections

Upper Northgate Canyon

  • This is the section where all the rapids are, but even here, it isn't continuous action. It begins with a small little warm up rapid, called windy hole, and then quickly calms down with 6.5 miles of moving flatwater.
  • About 7 miles in, the river starts to pick up after a small creek flows in on the right. This marks the beginning of a fairly continous stretch. First comes Cowpie Rapid, then Narrow Falls. Narrow Falls is the steepest rapid on the river, and in the photos below you can see a fishing boat pinned on a rock that we helped to rescue.

    • This rapid can be seen in the video below at 2:05 where you can also see the boat pinned as I pass by.

Lower Northgate Canyon

  • The Lower Canyon section doesn't contain any whitewater, but it is a beautiful section of river to paddle, and I was pleasantly surprised by the scenary along the river. (If you drive in to set up a shuttle, you'll understand why I was pleasantly surprised)

Optimal Flow levels

  • I've only run this at 1,100 CFS and it was a very fun level. I could see it being runnable in a packraft quite a bit lower, down to say 500 cfs or possibly lower. I'll have to check it out sometime. I'd also be curious what it's like at higher water. I would guess it takes on quite a big water feel, especially Narrow Falls.


Video Footage

I am only relaying my experiences and in no way am I giving you advice on what is safe. Every person ultimately must be responsible for themselves. Do your own research and be honest with yourself about your abilities.