America · Cultural Heritage · Historic Towns · intercity transit · Rivers · travel plan

The North and South Platte Rivers

American River Trails

The Platte River originates in the state of Nebraska and is about 310 miles – 500 km – long. Measured to its farthest source via its tributary the North Platte River, it flows for over 1,050 miles – 1,690 km. The Platte is a tributary of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers which flows to the Gulf of Mexico.

North Platte River Northgate Canyon CanoersRiver Valley Trails played an important role in the westward expansion of the United States, providing the route for several major emigrant trails, including the Oregon, California, Mormon and Bozeman Trails. The French were the first Europeans to reach the Platte. At Casper, Wyoming the trails left the North Platte valley and followed the Sweetwater River valley and other river valleys going further west.

The North Platte River is approximately 716 miles – 1,152 km – long, across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. It is navigable over most of its length at high water by canoes, kayaks and rafts. In Colorado and Wyoming, the river is narrower and much swifter flowing than it is in Nebraska, where it becomes a slow, shallow stream. The upper reaches of the river in the Rockies in Colorado and Wyoming are popular for recreation rafting and fishing.

south platte riverCasper Wyoming was established in 1860. Near what is now Casper was the location of several ferries that offered passage across the North Platte River during the summer Trail season starting about 1847. The wagon trails following the south side of the Platte/North Platte River ferried or waded in low water years across the South Platte River in several places to stay on the south side of the North Platte River where the trails were located. Those who went to Denver followed the South Platte River trail into Colorado. Historically, the North Platte River used to be up to a mile wide (1.6 km) in many places as evidenced by the old stream bed and written records.

Denver View from from City ParkYour anchor locations when visiting the North and South Platte Rivers include Denver and Wyoming

The South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River located in the eastern flank of the Colorado Rockies, Nebraska and southeastern Wyoming near Cheyenne. The river forms southwest of Denver in the South Park grassland basin and is a major source of drinking water for the Denver area, flowing north through central Denver. The highly industrial Denver Valley is also a major railroad route. North of Denver it is joined by Clear Creek which descends from the mountains to the west in a canyon that was the cradle of the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.

Platte river watershedThe South Platte is the Principal Source of Water for Eastern Colorado

History originally called the Rio Chato, and before the city of Denver was founded, many travelers came to the South Platte River to escape the arid Great Plains.

Fly Fishing a Gold Medal Western trout river on the Eastern Slope of Colorado, the river is well known for its brown and rainbow trout.

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