Laid-back river trips in Utah

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of March 27-April 3, 1996
Laid-back river trips in Utah
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Mellow canoe trips in the Northwest

Laid-back river trips in Utah
Q: I'm looking for a nice, unchallenging river in Utah to run in an inflatable kayak, over a week or so. I don't have much kayaking skill, but I have camped in the backcountry a fair amount. I have been thinking about the Green River to Murphy's Landing, the BLM boat ramp just north of Canyonlands. Is this a reasonable thing to do? Any suggestions, advice, resources?

Bill Bradford
Port Townsend, WA
[email protected]

Float trip nirvana. The Green River winds lazily through Utah's canyonlands
A: You bet it's reasonable. In fact, we dubbed this stretch of the Green one of the world's premier flatwater canoeing rivers in our March 1993 issue, which means it'd be ideal for a eight- to ten-day trip in an inflatable kayak. While hotshot paddlers expound on the churning, thrill-inducing whitewater in Lodore and Desolation canyons, the 124-mile run from the town of Green River to the confluence with the Colorado River in Canyonlands is 100 percent laid-back. Put in at Green River and get your river fix in shorter doses or go whole hog and paddle all the way to Canyonland's Spanish Bottom, where Moab-based Tex's Riverways will pick you up and shuttle you and your kayak four hours by jet boat to Moab (801-259-5101).

If you don't have that much time to spare, take out at either Ruby Ranch, 23 miles from your start at Green River State Park, or at Mineral Bottom, 68 miles downstream. If you choose one of these shorter routes, it's a good idea to leave a second vehicle at your take-outs, since shuttle services can be hard to come by.

Green River State Park is about 185 miles southeast of Salt Lake City on I-15 and U.S. 6, or 100 miles west of Grand Junction, Colorado, via I-70. For more information, contact the Bureau of Land Management at Price (801-637-4584) or Moab (801-259-6111). Or call Canyonlands National Park at 801-259-7164 for details about shuttles, guidebooks, and dozens of area outfitters. Outside the park you don't need a permit to paddle or camp on the riverbanks or sandbars. Inside, campsites cost $13 per person for up to a week and free paddling permits for overnight travel are available at the park office in Moab. Finally, before you go, check out "The Tides of March" in the Destinations section of our March 1993 issue.

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