Named the Gouffre River, or "Rivière du Gouffre", in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, the river rises in the eastern Laurentian massif at Lac du Coeur, at an altitude of 822.96 meters. Its winding 71-kilometre course crosses wild and rugged landscapes from north to south, notably those of two valleys: the Notre-Dame-des-Monts region and the Gouffre, stretching from Saint-Urbain to the river's arrival in the St. Lawrence River at Baie-Saint-Paul.
At the beginning of the 20th century, sport fishermen from the Quebec City area frequented these waters, which had and still have a reputation for producing salmon of imposing size, although the population of the species can vary greatly in numbers. Renowned painters such as Clarence Gagnon, Marc-Aurèle Fortin, René Richard and Jean-Paul Lemieux have also immortalized the river and its rare beauty. Since 1979, the Association de conservation de la vallée du Gouffre has managed salmon fishing.
The 55 pools are easily accessible and well equipped for fishing. The stream bed is made up of medium-sized stones and gravel, giving it a dark hue and brownish water, becoming dirty downstream after heavy rain. Fishing is wading only.