I didn’t know what to expect when I heard that we were “kayaking down the Fremont Canyon.” I hadn’t even heard of Fremont Canyon. It was a complete mystery, so I immediately looked it up and discovered that there is a lot of water around Casper, Wyoming, where we were staying.
There are two reservoirs to the southwest of Casper: Alcova and Pathfinder. Both are a result of dams on the North Platte River. Fremont Canyon is a drowned canyon meaning it is home to water, a lot of water. Located on the southwest part of Alcova Reservoir, it is 200 feet deep in some areas.
Much to my relief, Fremont Canyon’s water is calm and there are no rapids. It can only be accessed by boat, and that’s exactly what we were going to do.
A 45-minute drive from the Hilton Garden Inn in Casper put us at Alcova Resort. This lake-side facility has a restaurant, bar, general store, and ice cream parlor. There’s also a marina where we met Lauren, our pontoon boat captain.
Lauren was going to deliver us, along with two kayaks, up the canyon, and we would paddle back to the resort. This was all sounding rather grand and only slightly intimidating. I had kayaked several weeks before in Frisco on Lake Dillon, but I was no professional.
RELATED: Kayak Lake Dillon from Frisco Bay Marina in Frisco, Colorado
We boarded the pontoon boat and Lauren buzzed away from the marina in the direction of Fremont Canyon. I love a ride on a pontoon boat, but those two kayaks balancing next to Lauren meant I was going to have to move under my own power very shortly.
As we turned into the canyon, my breath literally caught in my throat. It was awe-inspiring. Sheer cliffs rose up on either side while the water cut a ribbon of darkness that we followed deeper and deeper into the canyon.
Incidentally, Lauren and Ryan had gone to the same Colorado high school, albeit years apart. It is a small world. Lauren told us about a flock of baby mergansers and their mother that had been spotted in the canyon. Later that morning, we saw the family, but they all skipped across the water so quickly that we were unable to get photographic evidence.
We finally reached Alcova Resort’s last put-in spot in the Fremont Canyon. Guests choose whether to make it a shorter or longer paddle by where they put in their kayaks. Of course, Ryan wanted a long paddle. As we got situated in the kayaks and Lauren drove the boat away, we were alone in the canyon with hundreds of tweeting birds. It was as if we were starring in National Geographic special about canyon-dwelling birds. Seriously.
The dam, up the canyon from us, had just released some water into the canyon so we benefited from a small current heading in the same direction as us, towards Alcova Reservoir. We could really get moving when we paddled but if we didn’t paddle at all we’d still move. It was pretty darn convenient.
The first time it happened, we both jumped. A fish hit the top of the water hard enough to make a splash. It continued to happen and Ryan had high hopes of catching a glimpse of a fish during one of the GoPro’s voyages underwater. Alas, we got no fish on video. However, I can understand why fishing is a popular pastime in this part of Wyoming.
At one point, movement near my kayak got my attention, and as I looked down at the water a small turtle went swimming by. To write that I was ecstatic is an understatement. In all my years of paddling a canoe with my family, I had never seen a turtle swim by.
All in all, we saw lots of birds, including three vultures near the shore and lots of mergansers, baby mergansers, one turtle, and loads of jumping fish.
For the first hour or so, we were the only humans around, but then we started passing fishing boats. Eventually, two jet skis went roaring by and I must admit it looked fun, but I guarantee they didn’t see the turtle.
We only had one moment of rough water caused by four boats going by at high speed. Most boats slowed down when they saw they were about to pass kayaks. These four boats were accompanied by a gust of Wyoming wind and we were tossed about a bit. However, I didn’t have it as bad as the guy we saw on a stand-up paddleboard. He went to his knees in order not to be knocked off.
A storm was coming, so we paddled like maniacs when we got out of the canyon and on the lake. The water was a little choppy from the wind, and there seemed to be no boats on the water. We paddled like mad to make it back to Alcova Resort before it started raining, which it did about 20 minutes after we landed. We’d loaded into our kayaks around 9:45 a.m. and we got back to Alcova Resort by 12:30 p.m. I am grateful we weren’t embarrassingly slow paddlers. At least I don’t think we were.
Back at the resort, we were famished. We bellied up the bar, ordered beers and yummy club sandwiches. The Alcova Resort website declares the resort as “Home of the Bucket.” I thought this meant a bucket of beer, but I was wrong. They are home to the Slushy Bucket!
Sitting in front of the slushy machines rolling around colorful slushies made with various types of liquor, I had to order one. I got the lemonade vodka slushy in a half-gallon bucket. Brain freeze!
The one thing that really stuck out during our visit was how genuinely nice everyone is at Alcova Resort—from the gals in the restaurant to the bartenders to Lauren. I can honestly say that the entire experience was one of my top HeidiTown excursions. Not only did I get to kayak in a beautiful canyon, but I also got to drink an alcoholic slushy from a bucket! What more could a gal want?
Read more about this area: The Way West and The Rest of the Story in Casper, Wyoming
Thank you to Visit Casper for hosting this memorable weekend.