The changing of the seasons each year brings the excitement and planning for all my upcoming adventures. Too often when we talk about or think of Jeep trips we associate it with a wheeling adventure or expedition. Some of my favorite moments in my Jeeps have been while traveling to or from a camping or hiking trip, kayaking excursion, and even wintertime ski trips.
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So the time had come when the temperatures had melted the snowcaps off of the mountain peaks and it was time to trade the skis for kayaks and camping gear. Thus, we then needed to decide which direction to head for some paddling. This year we headed out to the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota for some paddling. This part of the country had an enormous amount of snowfall earlier this year so we knew we would be able to find the creeks and rivers full and flowing. It just came down to rounding up a few friends and deciding which direction to head.
The Black Hills have several great spots in and around the scenic town of Spearfish. Spearfish is only 20 miles away from the historic town of Deadwood where many of the famous outlaws of days gone by would spend their time drinking, gambling, and thriving during the days of the gold rush. Some of the kayaking that can be found around the area is on the Red Water, a class 1-2 waterway about five miles north of town. Spearfish Creek runs through town and depending on the time of year, it can provide some good class 2-3 rapids and a scenic setting. During the spring runoff, Spearfish Canyon located just outside of town also has some short season paddling offering class 3-4 rapids.
Wyoming also has many places that offer some good water for all classes of kayakers. On the east side of the Big Horns, the areas around Sheridan, Buffalo, Dayton, and Story offer class 1-3 paddling along certain areas of the Big and Little Goose, Piney Creek, Clear Creek, and the Tongue River. The west side of the state has several areas around Cody and the entrance to Yellowstone which can give kayakers who want class 3-5 rapids a place to play.