Bear River Trip Report

Evanston, Wyoming, is about a 60 minute drive from Odgen, Utah, and about 50 minutes from Park City, Utah. The Bear River originates from the Northwest slope of the Uintas in Utah, and meanders north into Wyoming and then Idaho. It turns south after several hundred miles and empties into the Great Salt Lake back in Utah. I have heard that it is the longest inland river in North America.

On May 1, 2021, a kayak friend and I spent the Saturday afternoon on the Bear. The water was running at 279 cfs (Sunday was better at 384 cfs but we did not go then). I ended up scraping bottom of my Alpacka Expedition about 5 times, but it was not bad. I think the water conditions will only get better in the next month and a half because of the snowmelt. The total float time to do the section averages about 45 minutes which we did twice. The section is in the middle of the city that has three pedestrian bridges and two roadways along with riparian trees to beautify the scenery.

The town of Evanston has created a kayak park with several tons of volcanic rock and a few drops. The course has two sections. The first section is a meandering course for a couple miles. The second section has the kayak park which begins just before the interstate overpass. The start begins at the Bear River State Park. After entering, go past the bison and elk in their respective pens. At the end of the state park there is a parking lot with restrooms and picnic tables. The launch point is about 20 feet away from the parking lot. The ending section is about a mile and sports about five drops ranging from class I to II. One class two drop is about 3 feet the other two are about 2 feet in drop. This year’s strainers are low compared to last year. Although I did encounter a submerged log.

I have been told that the bottom three drops have the names of Bear Claw (next to the Debbie Smith Bridge) and Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

When we came down, both times there were two sets of two kayakers from Salt Lake City who were surfing the Bear Claw. One said that the Bear is about the only thing running as Salt Lake has had a low snow pack this year. So the four kayakers made the trek to surf the bear. On the second trip down, I hit the hole in Ursa Major on the right and it flipped me. It also flipped my kayak buddy. We then pulled our boats out and put them in above the drop to go down (without difficulty) a third time.

Overall, the Bear is a good place for early season packraft and kayak practice once the water is above 250 cfs.