The Lower Wind River is a paradise for summer waterfall addicts...but the fun comes at a price. The river features miles of Class III-IV boulder gardens with an incredible series of drops known as Shipherd Falls waiting as a grand finale. When the boulder gardens are fluid, however, the falls often feature burly holes that unfortunately require a portage.
The action starts immediately after the put-in as paddlers pick their way between boulders and through chutes with the scenic High Bridge arcing high above. The river calms down for some time before making an abrupt left turn into Flume, a steep constriction with plenty of pin and piton potential at low flows. Fortunately, there is an easy portage on the right.
Shortly after a suspended pipeline crosses the river, paddlers will find themselves above another horizon line. The fish ladder on the left provides an easy portage or scouting route for Beyond Limits, an approximately 8-foot pourover with two slots to choose from. Only a few more rapids remain before the main event: Shipherd Falls.
Paddlers should take extra care in the rapid leading up to the lip of Shipherd Falls as it develops a hole and feeds into the enclosed fish ladder on the left.
Scout from the fish ladder, and if necessary carry down to a faint path leading up the jagged cliff for the "throw-and-go" portage. Shipherd Falls consists of four distinct drops. The first three are easily lapped by carrying your kayak up the fish ladder, and each offers a variety of lines down during different flows. The final drop, however, is always the same: a man-made weir with a significant hole at all but the lowest flows, it is run on the far left to avoid a shallow landing everywhere else.