Canoe the Brazos River
Canoeing: a guide to canoes and canoeing on BrazosRiver near Dallas & Ft. Worth, Texas.
Canoe the Brazos River
By Sam Bailey
BRAZOS RIVER below the dam of Possum Kingdom (PK) Lake.
LOCATION: 100 miles West of Dallas, Texas.
SCENERY: The Brazos , below PK Lake, runs through the Palo Pinto Mountains which are more like extremely large rugged hills than mountains. There are some beautiful cliffs and rock formations through the first 20 miles. The semi-arid landscape lends an Old West feeling of the area. It’s easy to see why the Native Americans called this area of Texas home.
RIVER FLOW & WATER QUALITY: The Brazos is one of the cleanest rivers in the state according to EPA studies. The water is clean and cool as it comes off the bottom of Possum Kingdom Lake. The river flow is almost totally dependent on the release of water from the hydro-electric PK Dam. The good news is that even at the lowest levels the river is still runable. If the dam has been generating the night before you shouldn’t even have to get your feet wet.
There are few if any hazards in the way of swift water or rapids. The only true Class II – Class III rapid (at higher water levels) is at the Hwy. 4 crossing at Rochelle’s which is the take-out point for the 1 or 2 day trips. If it looks like it’s a little too much for the kids then you can take out before getting to the bridge on the left hand side. Mostly, you will find the river to be slow and relaxing and a great learning opportunity for the novice canoer.
CAMPING: The camping is strictly primitive and trips should be planned accordingly. None the less, there are numerous camp sites along the river and you should have no problem finding a great spot to set up a tent, a camp fire and a home for the night. You might be surprised to find how much camping gear a couple of canoes can hold. The only warning that has been repeated over and over is to make sure you are camped above the generating level. You’ll be able to see that level by the water line on the banks. There’s no worse feeling than waking up at 3 am with your tent in the water and half your stuff floating down the river (I speak from experience).
Take a little extra time to have a picnic on the gravel shoals and islands along the river. You never know if you’ll come across an Indian arrowhead or flint stone.
FISHING: This river is full of fish! Some of the best catfishing in the state is right here. The bass are small but active. The pan fish are plentiful. The gar are elusive but there are some Monsters! I’ve seen them up to 8 or 9 feet long and at least 150 pounds! The State Fish Hatchery also stocks the river with trout. They can be caught in the first three miles of water below the dam. That’s the only water cold enough to support them.
Canoe Rental & Shuttle Service: Rochelle’s is the only outfitter in the area and they offer just about any length of trip you could want. They are located on Hwy 4 @ the Brazos River crossing.
TRIP DURATION The one day trip is about 11 – 12 miles on the river. It takes 8 or 9 hours. The two day trip is 19 miles and takes two very leisurely days to complete or can be stretched out even longer if you enjoy the camping, fishing and hiking. The 3 – 4 day trip is about 40 miles and would probably be a little more than the kids can handle.
To sum it up, I can’t say enough about what a great river experience the Brazos has to offer. I’ve been going on average of 6 times a year since 1980. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough so that we can start taking the family trips. Hope you’ll give it a try and have a ball !!!
GreenBuilding and Remodeling
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