Paddling Wyoming

Has anyone here ever paddled in Wyoming? I am considering a trip either entirely in Montana, or on one of the rivers that cross the Wyoming/Montana border. I have the Falcon Guide “Paddling Montana” book, but I can’t find any info on paddling in Wyoming. Any help is appreciated.

White water? slow rivers
What are you looking for?

I’m going to be in Wyoming the latter part of March and I want to know about paddling there also. I’m interested in slow easy stuff.

I am looking for slow, easy stuff. I’d like to do a 5 day, relaxing trip. If there were good scenery and any fishing that would be ideal too. From what I’ve seen, the catch will be that I have to go later in the summer, and could have water-level problems.

I’ve looked at the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone in MT, but I would like some solitude. I don’t want to paddle with a whole flotilla of other canoes, if at all possible.

In WY, I’ve only done the Snake in the
Tetons, which is too busy for you. But in late summer, you might not find the Yellowstone in Montana so bad. I did Yankee Jim Canyon in early August, and there were no rafts or hard boats.

Dan Lewis’s Paddle and Portage is the main source for Wyoming. About$13 bucks. He is fairly flatwater oriented, so the book could be quite helpful to you.

Wyoming / Montana

– Last Updated: Feb-20-04 8:08 PM EST –

Last August, on my way to paddle the Upper Missouri in Montana, I put in for a day paddle on Leigh Lake and String Lake in the Grand Teton National Park. They are small but beautiful bodies of water with the Grand Tetons as a backdrop. Farther up, I spent a day paddling on Yellowstone Lake...a relatively large lake where more time could be spent if one desired. The final leg of my paddling expedition was a 108 mile / six day paddle down the Upper Missouri River, retracing a portion of the Lewis & Clark route. This is designated as a Wild and Scenic area...the river runs at about 2.5 rapids...just a quite, serene trip with almost no others on the water. It was hot (90-100 degrees) but the water was a comfortable 70 degrees so it wasn't all that uncomfortable.

I’ve done Yellowstone Lake
and Green River from I-80 to Flaming Gorge. Yellowstone is great for isolation in 4 days we seen fewer than 20 people. (places2paddle July 1999). Same for the Green above the lake, but Yellowstone has better scenery.

Enjoy the trip


Leigh and String get crowded
because they are small and very pretty.

Ditto for Jenny Lake.

Yellowstone Lake is so huge that you can get away from crowds, depending where you go. Commercial trippers start from Grant Village and do day trips of the West Thumb area, so you will see groups in that area. (Still a great paddling trip!)

In 2002 my then-boyfriend and I paddled to a campsite on Yellowstone Lake and only saw a couple of motorboats plus one group of canoers who were NOT camped anywhere near us. Ironically, many kayakers and canoers probably choose to take a motorboat shuttle to the “remote southern arms” so you may actually have more privacy in the “less remote” areas.

Henry’s Fork (ID) and Madison River
Are in this region. You want more current information I have not been for many years, but portions of these rivers are not too challenging and very beautiful and used to have some of the best fishing in the US. Late in the year they usually have plenty of water.

I’ve paddled Wyoming a bit…
over the last 25 years and I’ve lived here since '80.

Dan Lewis (a naturalist from Glenrock, WY), is a friend of mine and his book is great. A bit dated now but still a good resource. Dan’s book is not real strong in the area you are contemplating though. I would certainly recommend the Falcon Guide titled, “Paddling Yellowstone & Grand Teton Ntl Parks”, by Don Nelson. You’ll find it full of good info.

I would be more than happy to help you in whatever way I can regarding your trip. Just drop me an ‘e’.

Do remember these are cold waters even in the summer. Afternoon winds can be an issue and should be planned for. The paddling opportunities are endless in this area and quite variable in nature. WW, fun water, big lakes, little lakes. I could spend two weeks on Jackson Lake alone. The paddle from Lewis to Shoshone is a nice one and the river communication is very scenic.

Don Nelson’s book will help you plan your trip around the wilderness campsite protocol, shuttle info, etc.

Lots of film, my friend, lots of film!

Take care and keep in touch.


WY paddling - books, pictures, movie
You can find description of Wyoming rivers in:

“The Floater’s Guide to Wyoming Rivers: Paddle and Portage”

and there is a paddling guidebook for Yellowstone and Grand Teton:

“Paddling Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks”

My paddling experience in WY is limited to different parts of North Platte River including some reservoirs:

I have also a short movie from paddling N.Platte from Treasure Island to Pick Bridge last year:

Jackson Lake
Late in the year … when the tourists are gone.

Stay in Coulter bay, paddle in the reflection of the Tetons… hard to beat for scenic beauty

I live in this area
and I have read those manuals. For real wilderness canoeing, I don’t think we have a lot of rivers, per se. Even Shoshone Lake is a debatable “wilderness” trip. There are a few stretches of rivers in Montana that don’t parallel a road or jump from dam to dam, but Wyoming is very limited. The Big Horn through the canyon is a good bet, but not very long. The Breaks area of the Missouri seems to be the best bet. There are some shorter stretches, but some hard to get to. The South Fork of the Flathead boasts a 15 mile stretch above the canyon, but it takes a healthy portage to get to the river at that end. I think lakes are the best bet in this part of the county, expecially if you don’t use a Royalex canoe. Look at the Green River Lakes for a peaceful canoe getaway. You have to portage to the upper lake, but once there, you can camp in a true wilderness, and take day hikes up the canyon into post card pretty country. Be careful on the lower lake on the return. It is almost always white capping in the afternoon.

fun rivers
Can be found all over wyoming and montana. The Yellowstone river below Yankee Jim canyon has very spetacular scenery and some great fishing for trout all the way to Columbus. Below Billings the river becomes more of a prairie river and although It does have a highway near it it is still a very nice river. The Missouri below Fort Benton is classified as wild and scenic and is both. I would expect that it will be a bit busy this summer with the lewis and clark centinial but this was the quitest place that I found in the lower 48. Some good walleye and carp fishing (I even caught carp on flys and they were very strong and a ball to catch) there’s also catfish. Yellowstone lake is a wonderful paddle and my wife I paddled around the whole lake and it can get very rough with wind but the arms are wonderful. Overall I found the montana rivers more fun to paddle because they have a sream acess law and that gives you alot more places to camp and stop.

Look here in in the “place2paddle” section Ive posted some wyoming paddling info.