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North Platte River

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General Information

Description - The North Platte starts high in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness and runs north out of Colorado into Wyoming through a vast grassy basin. North Park is an impressive island of grasslands in the midst of the Rockies. This terrain creates a classic meandering, oxbow meadow-type river, which makes a solid fishing stream. The river eventually dives into Northgate Canyon and cuts into the Medicine Bow Mountains creating a fine whitewater run.

Recreation - The North Platte and tributaries start high and clear in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. The North Fork of the Platte also feeds into the North Platte and is a fine fishing stream. Both rivers offer many and varied fishing opportunities. There are deep pools, riffles and flat water. All fly fishing techniques will take fish on this river. Access along private properties seems to change yearly. Contact the North Park ranger in Walden for current information.

Good to mediocre fly fishing can be experienced on the North Plattes other tributaries: Grizzly and Norris Creeks and the Canadian, Illinois and Michigan Rivers. More importantly, these waters provide many nutrients which help the fish in the North Platte grow to 10-16 inches.
The river changes to narrow, fast moving water at the Northgate Canyon. About midway through the canyon, is the Wyoming state line. Make sure you have a Wyoming fishing license if fishing past the state line.

Rafting and kayaking opportunities also exist on the North Platte. The Northgate Canyon run is reasonably mellow water, except for when in flood stages. This is an intermediate run through rapids formed around large boulders. This is a nice day or even weekend trip with good car camping potential from either the Steamboat or Fort Collins areas.
Barring a run at the peak of a high water year, the main allure of the Northgate Canyon is the scenery. Besides the serenity of the area surrounding the river, the canyon (where the river has cut into the hills) is comprised of 400 foot-deep low-angle walls. The tougher drops are found seven miles into the run after Elkhorn Creek enters from the right. Here the main canyon constricts and the gradient steepens slightly.

Climate - The North Platte River is situated in high mountainous altitudes. Persons coming from lower elevations should be aware that time is needed to adjust to the higher elevations.

Warm days and cool to freezing nights can be expected in the mountains during the summer. July and August are usually the warmest months. During this time afternoon thunderstorms are common. Be prepared for both warm and chilly weather, as well as for rain showers.

Being at high elevation and fueled mainly by melting snow, the North Platte is a rather cold river. During the spring runoff the river is full of freshly melted snow, and the temperature of the water is especially cold.
Please make sure that you dress appropriately when participating in whitewater sports. Wear shoes that can protect feet if you bounce off rocks or walk out of a canyon in the event of an accident. Wet suits are mandatory when air and water temperature added together total 100 degrees or less. If total is less than 80 degrees, a full set of waterproof or wool garments on top of the wet suit should be worn.

Location - To get to the North Platte from the Steamboat Springs area drive east on Highway 40 and north on Highway 14. From the east, drive to Granby and take Highway 125 towards Walden.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Dave (Ft Collins, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Fished over the weekend of 8-21-05 Northgate produced plenty of little browns during the day, but not much action on anything really, nymphs, streamers, dries, tried everything. Went over to wyoming side at six mile gap, and they really went off in the evening, I have never seen so many caddis flies. So the fishing is really good in the morning and the evenings. I suggest a good elk hair caddis.

Filed By: George Garvey (Denver, CO)
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: I fished Northgate Canyon on August 3, 2004 in the Gold Medal/Wild Trout water area with one of my friends. Collectively we only caught 2 fish over the course of the entire day of fishing (7 AM to 8PM). The fish were of average size 12 inches and 14 inches. I would not recommend this river as an experienced dry fly fisherman. After not getting any action with my nymphs I ceased and only used dries. Adams, Caddis, Hoppers, Ants, Royal Wulffs, none seemed to work. My advice: stay home or go to the San Miguel River or the Cache la Poudre River.

More Information

Additional Information:
Colorado Rivers & Streams - Colorado's rivers and streams are characterized by steep continuous drops in the mountains and slow moving big rivers in the plains. In the west the Colorado river and its many tributaries cut through the desert. Excellent fishing opportunities can be found throughout the state.
Northwest Region - This diverse area encompasses mountains and high desert. The terrain supports a huge variety of recreation opportunities and some of Colorado's world famous resorts.


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