UPPER DEARBORN: The popular section of the Dearborn is the last 20 miles before its confluence with the Missouri. It's popular for a reason – the river is beautiful and forgiving. Hence, it draws the crowds. I like a quiet, less developed run with plenty of bounce, so I go as high up as I can get. Put in near the Bean Lake access/campground, off of Rt. 435 southwest of Augusta, or push on another three miles upstream to the diversion dam. The first miles in the canyon are rock-walled and spectacular. The water is fast but easy, with only an occasional sweeper to worry about. Lower down, a couple of 4' drops (Class II-III) precede a 10' falls, which is easily portaged on the left, or lifted over on the right. The lower half of the run is a pretty steady diet of moderate, rock-garden riffles as the canyon starts to open. Take out at the Hwy 200 bridge.
Length: ½ day
Boats: whitewater canoe/inflatables
Best level: 500-1,500 cfs
Best month: mid-May to mid-June
Shuttles available through fly-shops in Wolf Creek or Craig along Interstate 15.