Boxelder Creek - Upper Boxelder Canyon



Boxelder canyon is an early season run near Casper, WY.  Not far off the highway, the canyon is characterized by a pool drop creeking character.  The upper canyon is around 2 miles long, but the rapids are fairly stacked once they start.  The rapids range from class IV to V with some significant gradient.  The quality of the run is somewhat marred by its short length and unpleasant hike out.  The hike requires climbing out a gully with lots of loose rock and dirt making it difficult to find good footing in parts and potentially dangerous for those below subject to rock fall. 

The middle canyon has a questionable entrance drop that has thus far prevented further descents.  The lower canyon appears to have some nice drops along with some portages, but both middle and lower canyons have potential private property issues which need to be resolved. 

Most of the drops are fairly channelized and therefore the run has a reasonably wide flow window.  The gauge is fairly high above the run so is only a indicator.  The run will have more water than the upper gauge is reading, how much more depends on the time of year.


As of 2013, there are some access issues with this run.  I'm not privy to what's been going on in this area, but there appears to be some land owner hostility directed towards kayakers.  The most convenient put-in briefly requires crossing VR Ranch property.  We were able to contact their office by phone, and while they were very friendly, they made it clear that they were not granting kayakers permission to cross their property in order to access the river.  Fortunately, there is a put-in on public land further downstream that does not cut out any of the major rapids.  A road that branches off to the left upstream of the takeout leads to a 4WD road that branches off to the right and heads down towards the river.  The road reaches a point before bending back downstream o the left.  There is a short hike down to the river on a scree slope full of loose rock that provides access on public lands.  A couple sections on the 4WD road require a little extra clearance than your standard passenger car has.  An alternative is to hike the short section of road.

The situation at the takeout is less clear.  There are two takeout options, one above the last rapid (Hairy Beaver) and one below it.  The upper takeout is legal and not an issue.  Without doing some research, it's unclear whether the lower takeout crosses any private property or not.

Hopefully relationships between kayakers and land owners can be improved in the future in order to provide a brief season of access without conflict.

Just to add a little more about the lower canyon egress options. In the spring of 2013 our group of 2 took out at the highway overpass after floating through several ranches and portaging a few barb wire fences. We were confronted by the land owners of the ranch which surrounds the highway and were accused of trespassing. Wyo Highway Patrol was called and we were issued warnings for taking out at the bridge but the landowners were informed we could rightfully float and portage the creek but there is not a right of way between the highway and the creek. That said the most legal option short of getting explicit permission to takeout from one of the ranchers is to float to the platte and find a legal take-out. This will add miles of flatwater to an already lengthy flatwater paddle out. I believe the other group who ran the lower canyon took out at one of the more upstream ranches and encountered landowneres wielding guns. - Glenn



Class V
Current Flow -999999.0 CFS
07-06-2016 14:45
Recommended Flow Minimum: 120.0
Average: 300.0
Maximum: 600.0
Typical Season Begins: April
Ends: June
Recommended Use Kayaking: Yes
Rafting: No
Canoeing: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Length 2.9 Mile(s)
Gradient 137.0 FPM

Boxelder Canyon

05-12-2013 -

Photo By: Kevin Cripps