Gates of Lodore History | Green River River Rafting | Utah Rafting Vacations - Sheri Griffith Expeditions
Gates of Lodore History

Gates of Lodore History

Gates of Lodore History Fun Facts:

  • River: The Green River

  • Rapid Rating: Class III-I

  • Put in (Green River): Gates of Lodore Boat Launch (3 hour drive east of Vernal, Utah)

  • Take-out location:  Split Mountain boat ramp (1 hour from Vernal, Utah)

  • River Miles: 45 Miles

  • Number of rapids: 11 named rapids with a lot of smaller un-named rapids

  • First to run Cataract Canyon: Fur trapper, General William Ashley in 1825.

More Gates of Lodore  Rafting Information

Map of Gates of Lodore


Gates of LodoreIn 1869 Andrew Hall, a member of John Wesley Powell's expedition, named The Gates of Lodore after a poem called, "The Cataract of Lodore," by Robert Southey. The Canyon of Lodore lies in the upper end of the Dinosaur National Monument, which was created in 1915 by President Woodrow Wilson. In 1938 the park was enlarged to include this incredible canyon and the Yampa River. Lodore has an exciting history including trappers, river runners and outlaws who were traveling on their way to nearby the hideout, Browns Park.


Gates of LodoreThe geology of the Gates of Lodore goes back beyond the age of dinosaurs into the pre-Cambrian time period. As you enter the "gates" the river cuts through the towering Uinta Mountain Group rock formation. (Which is billion year old red quartzite.) As the river continues and leaves the Canyon of Lodore, the rock changes into Weber sandstone and Limestone layers as well as the spectacular Mitten Park Fault. After floating through Island Park and admiring the great views of the Morrison Formation (Where dinosaur bones are found!), the river cuts right through the Split Mountain Anticline.

Human History

John Wesley Powell The Native American history in this region dates back as far as the Paleo Indians (8,000 years ago!). The Paleo Indians hunted big game animals like giant bison, mammoths and giant camels. Following the Paleo Indians came the semi-sedentary Desert Archaic Indians. The Fremont people who were nomadic horticulturists left a part of their history along the canyon walls in the form of rock art, leaving us many questions about who these people were and why they disappeared.

The Gates of Lodore is on what today we call the Green River. The Shoshone called it the Shetkadee (Prairie Hen) while the Ute called it the Bitterroot. In September of 1776, the Franciscan Fathers Escalante and Dominguez explored much of the West looking for new missions. They called the Green River the San Buenaventura. In the 1820's trappers made their way into these canyons on the river they called the Seeds-ke-dee-Agie or the Shetskedee in search of fur. Finally the river was called the Rio Verde or, the Green River.

General William Ashley was one of those trappers who made his way down the "treacherous" rapids in search of rendezvous sites and beaver in 1825. Trapper Dennis Julien left inscriptions all along the Green River including one in Whirlpool Canyon dated 1838. John Wesley Powell set out on his first expedition in 1869 despite being warned of the "sucks and waterfalls". Many other river runners followed his expedition, including the Kolb brothers in 1911, Bus Hatch in the 1930's (one of the first commercial trips), and Buzz Holmstrom's solo Green River trip in 1937. During the early 1900's, The Gates of Lodore's nearby location to Browns Park brought in outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Today this Canyon is one of the most popular stretches of river for river runners.

Books about Gates of Lodore and the Green River

  • Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons ~ John Wesley Powell

  • If We Had A Boat: Green River Runners and Explorers ~ Roy  Webb

  • The Doing of the Thing: The Brief, Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom ~ Vince Welch

  • Dinosuar River Guide ~ Bill Belknap

  • Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region ~ Sally J. Cole