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Thread: Green River through Canyonlands National Park, outside Moab, Utah

  1. #1

    Green River through Canyonlands National Park, outside Moab, Utah

    No rapids. Gentle flowing river. Ample Sandbars. Spectacular scenery. Placid Waters. Non-technical hikes up stunning side canyons-- the perfect self-guided trip.

    Trip is 52 miles, but the river flows about 2.5 miles an hour, so you can coast and make your “daily distance.”

    Day One. Left Moab with outfitter, who put us in at Mineral Bottom. Stopped at Horsethief Canyon, but the quicksand freaked us out; later learned it is one of the prettiest canyons there.

    Outlaw Cabin and Moki fort at Ft Bottom; take the inside channel to park boat –otherwise tamarisk is just too thick anywhere else.

    Camped at Potato Bottom. Skeeters and black flies were terrible, and I mused that this could be a long trip – but they petered out the next day and didn’t have any more problems.

    Day Two. Canoed to Millard Canyon and hiked toward Buttes of the Cross. Mid afternoon sun was brutal, and found a sandbar in the middle of the river, and made a lean-to with a tarp which was awesome.

    Stopped at Turks Head. Great place to scramble around therocks. We sat under a ledge and watched a monsoon roll in from the distance. Around the corner, stopped at Deadhorse Canyon – hiked a little way,looked promising, but we wanted to make camp before dark. Found a beautiful sandbar half a mile south in a narrow part of the canyon that echoed every sound we made.

    Day Three. Stopped at Horse Canyon. Just a short, sandy walk to an enormous pour off; a nice trickle of water cascaded from above. Giant pool at the base, but we could stand under the water and cool off. The mud ring was 30 ft high and it looked like it would be fun to watch the water pouroff of it in the rain . . .

    Stopped at Jasper Canyon. Great place to scramble, an Indian Ruin. Great place to park boat;sat on the underwater bench and had a beer and lunch.

    Decided to make a campsite for two nights, just four miles above the Confluence

    Day Four. Canoed upstream to an un-named canyon. Arrived at a 10 foot pour off; found a long hunk of pine tree, angled it up and climbed around this short canyon.

    Canoed farther upstream to Water Canyon. A gentle trickle of water flowed down the entire, well cairned path. In the upper canyon, found a little oasis,with seeps, springs, pools. 20 degrees cooler. Lollygagged in the pool, cooked some lunch. Followed old cattle trail over into Shot Canyon. Was led to believe we could hike down Shot – which worked well until we reached a 100 foot pour off. Water Canyon/Shot Canyon was the highlight of the trip. Looking at a topo map, we could have pressed on to Chimney Rock in the Maze section of Canyonlands. Wished we would have overnighted in this area. Much to explore, plenty of water,stunning views of river bottom, so far below

    Day Five. Canoed down past Confluence to Spanish Bottom. Pitched camp across from Spanish Bottom. Hiked up and around the Dolls House area. It was neat, but next time I would skip Spanish Bottom and spend more time in Water/Shot.

    Picked up next day. Nice boat ride back. Lots of boaters/rafters heading to Cataract Canyon.

    The boat parks at one place, you get on a bus, and a giant truck tows the boat back to the outfitter

    Paid $3 for showers at a Moab campground. Went to Eddie McStiff’s for giant hamburgers and fountain Cokes. It was so beautiful, the angel’s wept. Right next door we got hand dipped chocolate shakes. Only on my wedding day, and the birth of my three kids, was I ever happier!!


    Rented canoes from Tex's Riverways in Moab ($20 a day) and arranged for jet boat pick up five days later at the Confluence ($140 per person). Cooler full of beer, and another cooler full of steak, shrimp and chicken. Leave No Trace requires a firepan and toilet, and all trash -- including ashes -- is packed out. Our one luxury were folding chairs. Plenty of firewood – deadtamarisk, driftwood. Nothing like sitting in comfortable chairs around a campfire under the starry canopy of a Utah night

    Mosquitos present first two days, none after. Was kicking myself for not bringing bug juice. If the bugs persisted, it could have been along trip

    Buy and bring Michael Kelsey's book, as it tell you where to park your canoe toavoid tamarisks, and how to find trails into side canyons; buy Belknaps Riverguide; bring a 7.5 topo map.

    Be prepared for thick, thick tamarisk. Be prepared for quick sand. Skeeters peter out as you head south. Bring bucket to let water settle before you filter it; bring a spare filter as the silt is hell. We brought a five-gallon water “jerry can” -- I would probably bring another next time. Regulations require a "toilet",rentable at any outfitter. Had a Kaytn Camp Gravity filter – we would filter water all night. A bitch to keep filter clean, even using settled water. Might suggest some type of pre-filter

    Dont Miss: Outlaw Cabin/Moki Hut on Ft Bottom
    Turks Head (ruins at eastern base); Horsethief Canyon, Deadhorse Canyon. WaterCanyon was the best place on the trip

    Would probably skip stopping at Millards Canyon next time

    When I do a do-over, I would take Water Canyon all the way up and perhaps campout over night, and explore Shot Canyon on the way back. Water Canyon was highlight of trip, in a trip not lacking in platitudes.

    Do over: go to Horsethief Canyon -- the quicksand freaked us out on Day 1 (we were old hands at quicksand by the end of the trip). Later learned it is one of the prettiest canyons here

    Do Over -- Anderson Bottom (old meander, has some good scrambling and a smallslot canyon)

    I am used to backpacking, but canoe camping is great -- we could have brought a bigger tent, and more beer; when we were picked up, I was shocked how much stuff other parties brought. Folding chairs were great to have. Got most stuff in two "totes" and two "coolers." Bring webbing with clips to make it easier tot ie down your gear, and get to it if you need it quick

    We were here in early Sept, and ran into only one other party the entire time.

    A very memorable trip with my son. I will do it again when my daughter is older

    TO TRAILHEAD: Moab to Mineral Bottom, approximately one hour; no vehicle access attake out at confluence, so you need an outfitter to pick you up. Spanish Bottomis as far as you want to go, as Cataract Canyon is the next stop

    Below: Beginning of trip, near Mineral Bottom

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    Below: High walls near Anderson Bottom

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    Below: Water Canyon looking to Green River

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    Below: Sitting on a "bench" at Jasper Canyon

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    Below: Watching a Sept monsoon roll in under a ledge at Turks Head

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    below: Pour off at Horse Canyon

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  4. #2
    Looks like a lot of fun! In need to do this some day! Maybe next year!
    My YouTube Channel

    "As you journey through life, choose your destination well, but do not hurry there. You will arrive soon enough. Wander the back roads and forgotten path[s] ... Such things are riches for the soul. And if upon arrival, you find that your destination is not exactly as you had dreamed, ... know that the true worth of your travels lies not in where you come to be at journey

  5. #3
    Well done trip report. We are planning on doing this trip next year so I apprieciate your perspective on the do's and don'ts.
    We must go forward, even if we can't!

  6. #4
    So not being a river person, are there permits needed for this trip? Is it anything like the White Rim where you have to apply a year in advance? Is camping regulated to specific places? What permits would I need to apply for if I wanted to do this? Or...wouldn't it be sweet if there were no permits and all I needed to do was arrange for a pickup. I've always looked at the river while biking and thought it would be a good trip.
    It's your fault, you shouldn't have been there!

  7. #5
    If I recall, I had to get a permit, and pay $5 a night. Part of the park in in Grand Staircase and the other part is in Canyonlands. It was very easy to get the permit -- not like the Grand Canyon -- but then I was there in September with the usual summer crowds were gone. Call Tex's in Moab -- the outfitter we rented canoes from -- they will know. There are no designated campsites, and a load of wide sandy areas wherre youo can camp. You CAN have fires, and there is plenty of driftwood, tamarisk, etc -- but you need a fire pan -- and practice Leave No Trace, meaning you have to pack out ashes. Canoeing the Green really does give you very easy access to the Maze District of Canyonlands -- if you drive, you will have to spend up to 7 hours getting there -- from Water/Shot canyon, or from Spanish Bottom, you can get up to the Maze relatively easy -- and it is a nice break from canoeing.

  8. #6
    Thanks for the report! Looks like good time for sure!

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