The expedition begins early in the morning at the Sheri Griffith Expeditions office. We then drive to the launch site near Green River, Utah. After a safety talk and some basic kayak instruction we launch. We will float through an open valley and begin a descent of about a foot and a half every mile.
There are no rapids on this portion of the river, only a few riffles just below the town of Green River. Today we will have the opportunity to explore Crystal Geyser~ a cold water geyser whose eruptions are fueled by pressurized carbon-dioxide gas. The first eruption recorded was in 1936 when Glenn Ruby was drilling for gas and hit the pressurized pocket that activates the geyser. Years of accumulation of minerals brought up by the eruptions have left a beautiful copper colored formation around the geyser. By late afternoon we'll pull into a secluded campsite where we will enjoy exploring while our guides prepare a delicious dinner.
Note: Meals are served from a set daily menu, but you are welcome to request, in advance, special dishes or tell us if there are particular things you would prefer not to have.
Potential Hiking Opportunities: Crystal Geyser
After a hearty Breakfast of French toast and sausages or Pancakes and Bacon we pack up and start the paddling! The river progresses slowly through white, yellow, brown and red canyon walls with hairpin switchbacks accented by towering buttes and mesas rising 1,500 feet above the river. Labyrinth Canyon's walls are cut with long side canyons, where guests of all skill levels can explore and ponder ancient Indian writings and trapper's inscriptions.
Our guides are naturalists with great depths of knowledge about the history, geology, wildlife, and legends of the canyon. They know the 'secret' places that only exploration and experience reveals, and they share it all, connecting you to this incredible country. We will pass the San Rafael River today along with several working ranches. In the afternoon we will come to Trin-Alcove, named for the three canyons coming into the Green River. Be sure to watch for wildlife. This part of the canyon has many animals including deer, elk, and beaver. We will pull over to camp by late afternoon.
Potential Hiking Opportunities: Trin Alcove, Anvil Bottom
For the second morning in a row you'll wake to fresh brewed coffee and hot cocoa. The scenery begins to change as the river leaves the open desert and cuts its way into the rising plateaus of Utah's Canyon Country. This is Labyrinth Canyon, named by John Wesley Powell when he was here on his historic expedition in 1869.
The canyon becomes deeper as Sandstone walls of the Wingate Formation rise hundreds of feet on both sides. Orange and reddish brown cliffs drip with a darker brown and blue-black known as "desert varnish." Formations of tan Navajo Sandstone, purplish-red Kayenta towers, and brown Wingate cliffs, continuously unfold above. We will stop and look hike several of the wonderful side canyons in Labyrinth Canon.
We will also pass the river register where early river runners left their signatures. The sandy beaches in Labyrinth provide for wonderful camping. Our guides are amazing river chefs who do all of the work of preparing the highest quality, healthy meals made with fresh ingredients. We serve a variety of fruits and vegetables from our garden and buy locally whenever possible. Our meats and cheeses are purchased from our local meat shop that focuses on the highest quality ingredients. We can accommodate a variety of diets from Kosher to vegetarian and everything in between.
Potential Hiking Opportunities: Ten Mile Canyon, Hey Joe Mine, Keg Spring Canyon
After another wonderful morning, we will pack up our kayaks and head downstream. We will hike "Bowknot Bend" where the river makes a seven and a half mile loop back onto itself. We will hike up to the saddle which provides an incredible view of the desert.
There will be ample time each day for hiking and exploring the canyon's rich history and geology. The Fremont Culture were a semi-nomadic people who inhabited these canyons (500-1275 A.D.). They left petroglyphs on the rock walls that can be spotted today. You will also see the inscriptions left by the crew of the Launch Marguerite, a stern-wheeler river boat which traveled on the Green and Colorado Rivers between the towns of Green River and Moab during the early 1900's. Denis Julien was a trapper and fur trader who left inscriptions on the rocks in a number of places. All of his inscriptions are dated 1836. How Julien got into the canyons is still a mystery. It is not known if he came by boat or if he walked in from the rim.
Potential Hiking Opportunities: D. Julien Inscription, River Register, Hey Joe Mine site
Day 5, 6, 7, 8
On these days we will see more and more evidence of the uranium mining that once took place in these canyons. Tailing piles and abandoned mining equipment can be seen from the river below.
We will switch from our touring kayaks to oarboats for the rest of our journey. We will launch and float through Stillwater Canyon. Within a short time we enter the spectacular landscape of Canyonlands National Park. The next couple of days provide opportunities for extraordinary exploration. On these days you may get a chance to hike to several great features including Turks head, Anderson Bottom Narrows, Ruins at Fort Bottom, Jasper Canyon Ruins, or Hike up Water Canyon. .
The scenery begins to change as the river leaves the open desert and cuts its way into the rising plateaus of Utah's Canyon Country. The canyon becomes deeper as Sandstone walls of the Wingate Formation rise hundreds of feet on both sides. Orange and reddish brown cliffs drip with a darker brown and blue-black known as "desert varnish.
By the end of the 8th day, you will sense the anticipation of the group rising as the rapids near.
Potential Hiking Opportunities: Turks head, Jasper Canyon, Water Canyon, Shot Canyon Hell Roaring Canyon, Bowknot Bend
Day 9, 10
Breakfast is served in your canyon dining room. Breakfast offerings will vary throughout your rafting expedition. Hot coffee, tea and chocolate are always available, as are juices, and fresh fruit. After breakfast, clients will board the boats and we will head down river.
Enjoy another healthy and delicious Lunch, served as you visit a large sandy beach alongside the river. Today we may get a chance for a "Layover Day". This allows us to hike to the top of the famous Dolls House in the Heart of Canyonlands National Park. This is a very challenging hike with over 1500 feet of vertical gain as you hike from Colorado River to rim of Canyonlands National Park. Once up top some of the attractions include spectacular views of the La Sal Mountains, Canyonlands and the Colorado River. You will also get a chance to see hidden Native American ruins and petroglyphs.
This afternoon we will reach the Confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. We now enter the true heart of Canyonlands National Park as we near the Confluence. If it has rained recently, the mixing of the rivers will be defined in brilliant swirls of red and green.
After the Confluence, we will experience the first of the Cataract Canyon rapids, numbers 1 through 10. By now the river has doubled in size and force. The rapids are not huge, but will suffice in getting everyone good and wet before we pull off for the night. We may take a side hike to the top of the Dolls House. We will pull off river for an afternoon of hiking, swimming and yard games such as horseshoes or bocce. The crew will set up the camp as guests relax. Dinner will be served with the sound of whitewater in the background and blue skies overhead. Guides will tell stories of early explorers and of more recent experiences in the rapids that you will face the next day. Tonight we will experience a night of peaceful camping and quiet anticipation. Fall asleep to the quiet sounds of river music: quiet splashing accompanied by the high tones of crickets and the low tones of nearby owls.
Potential Hiking Opportunities: The Dolls House
This morning's fare is complimented by the sound of rushing water and the anticipation of a great day of running the famous rapids of Cataract Canyon. We will load everything back onto the boats and prepare ourselves for the exciting day at hand. This morning we will run some of the biggest whitewater in the Western United States (on trips during May and June, later season trips ~July and August~ have smaller rapids). Rapids whose names are almost as intimidating as the whitewater itself: Big Drop 2, North Seas and Capsize. Everyone will be thoroughly soaked as we take a break at midday for lunch and to catch our breath. Stop for Lunch and for some "Land Time".
While the guides prepare lunch, guests are welcome to explore the canyon a bit or watch as others run the big rapids they have just been through. Once we have finished with lunch, we get back on the boats and head into the big whitewater. This afternoon we will navigate through more intimidating rapids, including Big Drop 3, Satan's Gut and Little Niagara. There may be stops along the way as the guide scouts the rapids to find the best route through the churning whitewater. We will pull off the river.
After we recreate our riverside oasis, guests are welcome to kick back, relax and relive the day's adventures over and over again as the evening deepens and a bright canopy of stars replaces the blue sky. Traditionally, this last night is a "Dress Up" night. Anything goes, from formal wear to clown outfits with floppy hats. Guests are not required to participate, but are welcome to use their imagination and help celebrate an amazing trip.
Your final day of rafting begins with hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate followed by a delicious breakfast, prepared by your guides. This morning we will pass through the final rapids. We may have some opportunities for hiking in some of the canyons previously lost to Lake Powell's waters, but accessible now that the waters in the lake have dropped. Clearwater Canyon and Dark Canyon are guide favorites.
We'll climb back aboard the boats and follow the Colorado River as it pushes its way into the calm waters of Lake Powell. Here we'll be in the deepest part of the canyon, surrounded by nearly 2,000 foot cliffs. We'll see the Dirty Devil River and Piano Leg Arch. We will motor off of the lake and pull off near what used to be the Hite Marina on Lake Powell. You will be escorted to the landing strip for your return flight to Moab. As you take this scenic flight, watch for the Henry Mountains, the White Rim, the Abajo Mountains, the La Sal Mountains and nearly the entire Colorado Plateau. You will bet met at the Moab airport and transferred back to Moab and the Sheri Griffith Expeditions office where your journey ends.
Potential Hiking Opportunities: Clearwater Canyon, Bowdie Canyon, Dark Canyon