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Drainages: Grades: Keyword:
River: Bluegrass Creek Grade: IV-V
Section: Bluegrass Creek Author: Evan J. Stafford
Put In: Tunnel Outflow Photographer: Evan J. Stafford
Take Out: Bridge on Hwy 34 Nearby Town: Laramie

Bluegrass Creek, IV-V

By: Evan J. Stafford
Photographer: Evan J. Stafford

Looking down on the Main Event

Bluegrass Creek is a late season Wyoming run made possible by farmers who own the reservoir (Wheatland #2) above the runnable section. This is a long run with only two sections of interesting boating and a lot of barbwire. The good sections are interesting enough to make this a yearly event. You put-in right below the tunnel that makes this run happen. The river just appears out of a hole in the hill and drops right into a sweet half mile of the good stuff. Walk over the tunnel and scout this whole section from river right.

Stampede! the first drop: photo Brad Teets

From the put-in it is a constricted and continuous shallow gorge through what was once a dry ephemeral streambed. In this section there is a straight forward 10-12 footer, about 50 yards from the put-in. The next move is a tricky ledge, best run on the left, crossing the current from right to left. Beware! This drop has broken boats and it once drew a swim from a talented boater, resulting in a shallow and fast, 1/4 mile ass kicking. There is one more good drop before you meet up with the “real” Bluegrass Creek. The mood mellows considerably for the next few (10) miles and there are several barbwire fences (over 10).

Shane Spyker at the tricky ledge

Eventually the river starts to drop again. The rapids build in intensity as you enter a cool granite mini-gorge. Nothing too tuff in here (III-IV-). Everything is easy read and run until things open up a bit and you sense that a big left hand turn is approaching, as well as some significant gradient. Eddy out and scout on the left. Here the river drops through a series of very low angle slides into increasingly large hydraulics, culminating with a powerful “eighteen” footer. This drop looks intimidating and the pool at the bottom is in a carved out gorge making safety hard to set. The crux move is to pass through the last sticky hydraulic with enough speed and control to successfully negotiate the falls. Prepare for some down time, unless you get a really good stroke, and even then….

Randy Ramirez about to dissapear

There is one more sliding 10 foot drop as you exit the mini-gorge (which is actually quite sticky if you fail to paddle through it). From here the gradient mellows and the barbwire returns. I counted 17 fences along this run, although, if you are skilled in the art of negotiating fences you will probably not need to portage. Be careful ducking and lifting the fences because some are anchored in the middle of the river and others have dangling lengths, waiting to tear your dry top. Fight through this section and take out at the Hwy 34 Bridge. Do not do this run if you are planning on portaging the bigger drops. There is very little in the way of moderate rapids and instead there is endless miles of class II with barbwire fences.

Paul the kayaker looking less like a raft guide than usual

Brad Teets stoked on his second waterfall ever

Directions: The beta in CRCII is outdated on this run. The Flying X Ranch no longer allows access to paddlers and you have no choice but to put-in at the outflow from the tunnel. To reach the take-out find the bridge over Bluegrass Creek on Hwy 34 in south-eastern Wyoming (16 miles west of I-25). To get to the put-in drive a few hundred yards back east on Hwy 34 to a sign that points you in the direction of Wheatland Reservoir #3. Take a left at this paved road and continue for a ways until you cross a small bridge over a dry streambed. Immediately turn left onto a dirt road and continue to veer left 2-3 times as the road gets increasingly bumpy. Eventually (not too far) you will come to the tunnel and you can see the horizon line for the first small waterfall. There are no road signs out here so it helps to have a map handy if you’re prone to getting lost.

Gauge: >250cfs - Call 307-742-7657 (auto) or 307-742-0023 (voice) for the outflow from Wheatland #2.