Southwest Adventures: Gates of Lodore, Green River, Colorado/Utah

Oct 1, 2009
Outside Magazine
Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument    Photo: courtesy of National Park Service


In 1869, when John Wesley Powell first viewed the frothy entrance to what is now known as the Gates of Lodore, he freaked out, calling it "a dark portal to a region of doom." His assessment could not be more misleading. Sure, there are serious rapids (Class III or IV, depending on the water level), but outfitters allow seven-year-olds to raft it. Beginning in western Colorado's Dinosaur National Monument, this 44-mile section of the Green courses through three spectacular gorges as it winds into Utah (Sheri Griffith Expeditions offers four-day trips from $790; First up are the 2,000-foot walls of Lodore Canyon. Then the swirling waters of Whirlpool Canyon, where David Brower and the Sierra Club famously prevented the construction of a dam, before the river tilts again for a rapids-strewn ride through Split Mountain Canyon. Along the way, there are plenty of distractions: bighorn sheep, petroglyphs, pictographs, a billion (literally) years of geological history, and, of course, ButtPlug Falls. (It's not what you think.)

Filed To: Nature, Utah