High water levels in the North Platte River likely to impact Memorial Day weekend recreational activities
Foote PAA flooded with water from the North Platte River

Following a severe winter that brought high snowfall to the upper reaches of the North Platte River drainage, recreationists should be aware that spring snowmelt is likely to impact recreational activities. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has documented very high water levels in the North Platte River, with banks flooding in areas around Saratoga. Many Game and Fish managed Public Access Areas (PAAs) are currently experiencing impacts, or are likely to in the coming days.

The Foote PAA is experiencing extensive flooding. Campsites in this area are currently under water and will be inaccessible until the waters recede. The Pick Bridge PAA is experiencing mild impacts that will continue and possibly worsen throughout the weekend. Recreationists should assume that low-lying areas alongside the North Platte River in the Saratoga area may flood as the river reaches peak spring runoff this weekend.

Recreationists should plan ahead and consider camping locations away from the river. In addition to impacts on Game and Fish managed PAAs, the USDA Forest Service has issued an emergency closure to overnight camping within 1,000 feet of the North Platte River. The areas affected in Wyoming extend from the Colorado state line where the North Platte River flows north into the Medicine Bow National Forest to where it flows out of the Forest boundary near the confluence with Savage Run Creek. This emergency closure is because of the potential for flash floods and debris flows in the area burned by the 2020 Mullen Fire. 

Finally, with spring conditions, rafters may experience hazards including:

  • High water flows may carry debris, like downed trees, and submerge other hazards
  • Swift water can make landing boats at take-out points difficult
  • Cold water and air temperatures 

Game and Fish advises rafters to stay alert, anticipate your route, and be prepared. Wearing protective clothing and carrying extra layers can help protect against cold temperatures. Bringing along a first aid kit and matches in a dry bag is also good practice.

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!

Caroline Rosinski, Public Information Specialist (caroline.rosinski@wyo.gov)

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