This trip was to test the early season trout fishing and pick up trash along the river banks & the islands. It was also a test of my endurance with the portage cart, as my travel to and from the river was by surface streets and bicycle trails that parallel the North Platte River.
I left my house near downtown Casper at 08:30 and arrived at the Game & Fish launch after a four-mile two-hour push against a 20 mph wind with a 17' Grumman Standard canoe on my homemade portage cart. This cart is 23" high at the cradle and after 30 years of using the darn thing I discovered on this trip that making the load bow-heavy and pulling down on the stern end cap while pushing ahead was far easier than having slight or even neutral weight on the stern. This was a timely discovery as I had about 150 lbs. of landscaping tools for my work on the River and this was my longest portage in over 30 years.
After the afore-mentioned 4-mile slog I met a father-son combo fishing at the Game & Fish launch who helped me redistribute my gear in my canoe which I had set below a muddy, three-foot-high cut bank. (This would be a much easier one-foot-high bank during the high water season) A 10" rainbow caught on a worm by the boy seemed to be a good omen.
Once underway, and as lightly loaded as I was, the wind really pushed the canoe around, but the deep keel on this aluminum hulk eliminated a lot of side-slip. On any other river I would have preferred a keel-less zero-rocker design, but the Grumman seems to have the right combination of deep keel and rocker for this occasionally shallow, and generally windy, river.
After a half mile, I paddled past the dogs playing at Morad Park Launch and then beached on a gravel bar to try my luck with a #1 gold Panther Martin spinner. With only one half-hearted strike after 15 minutes, I paddled further down to pick up trash on the wooded island west of the Casper Municipal Water Plant.
A dozen bottles, 14 aluminum cans, and minor amounts of plastic/paper later, I shoved off again against a shifting wind, making casts both against & with a wind often blowing me upriver.
After a brief stop on a wooded island I shared with a mule deer doe, located just upstream of the Mills Bridge (Fort Casper Launch), I continued to a new rope swing over a deep hole just downstream of the Garden Creek Confluence.
After another 400 yards downstream, I landed on a wooded island just upstream of the Casper Creek confluence and south of the Mills Municipal water Plant, and bagged up bottles, cans, and the rotted remains of a partially-buried tent from many years ago.
Another half-mile put me at the first chute of Whitewater Park Launch, with the chicken-out ramp on river left. Had I been new to the area and in mid-channel with the same high tailwind blowing the sound of the rapids away from me, it would have been impossible to turn away from them after the chute became visible.
After putting the empty canoe on the portage cart twice due to a wind blow-over, I finally started the 1-mile portage to the house. Interestingly, the 5 miles with the cart was greater than 3 miles on the river.
I would rate this trip as moderate in difficulty for reading the shallow water, and moderately difficult while paddling solo with a 17 foot canoe in high winds. In summer with high water and a light breeze it would be easy.
Commercial campgrounds and motels all over Casper.
From Downtown Casper take David Street south and turn right onto CY Avenue. Take CY Ave. southwest 3 miles (it turns into Hwy 220) then turn right on Energy Lane and follow it down to the river.
From downtown Casper go west on First Street (Yellowstone Highway or Hwys 26-20) for 1-1/4 miles, turn left at the brick building (Trails center) They also have trail and river maps available during business hours.
Casper Quadrangle - USGS (At Mountain Sports -downtown)
Casper BLM Surface Use Map (At sporting goods stores)
Casper Area Map - 14" x 8-1/2" By Casper Area Convention & Visitors Bureau