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Watford City Gage
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According to Canoe Camping - Top 40 (www.canoe-camping.org), a flow of 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) is adequate for canoeing the Little Missouri River between Medora and U.S. Highway 85 (Long X Bridge).
The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department has developed canoeing recommendations based on data from the U.S. Geological Survey gages at Marmarth and near Watford City. Those recommendations are incorporated in the chart below.
According to the National Park Service, a stage reading (taken at Medora) of less than 3 feet is considered too shallow for canoeing. You may call National Park Service Theodore Roosevelt National Park headquarters in Medora at (701) 623-4466 for current information for the National Park.
Data Recommendations and Interpretation
Each river, and each gaging station on a river, has a unique streamflow-stage relation. This relation can be expressed in a rating table and may change with time. Given the stage at a particular gaging station, streamflow can be estimated using the rating table. Likewise, given the streamflow, stage can be estimated using the rating table. Using the streamflow-stage relation, canoeing recommendations for the Little Missouri River can be expressed as as the above recommendations.
As streamflow and stage decrease, the river becomes slower and shallower; thus, canoeing will become more difficult and portaging around shallow areas may be frequent. As streamflow and stage increase, the river becomes faster and deeper. As river conditions change due to natural events or human activities, the streamflow-stage relation may change. Canoeing should not be attempted when the river is flooding. Observation of the river and its streamflow or stage over time will help you determine the optimal river level for your enjoyment.
How to Obtain Current Streamflow and Stage Data
Pick the gage/city closest to your desired canoeing route on the Little Missouri River. Click on the link for that gage in the chart above; click on the button with the city name on the left side of this screen; or click on the gage, indicated by a red triangle, on the map below. You will be presented with a chart showing the current streamflow (discharge). Scroll down for another chart showing the current stage (gage height). To view streamflow for the last 18 months click on the button on the left side of the screen that says 18-Month Graph. Data for the past 18 months are helpful in determining the best time of the year to canoe a river.