Join us on our Green River canoe trip and discover why this trip is one of WI's favorite destinations. Take in scenery as stunning as you'll find anywhere in the world, as you paddle the river slicing through the red rocks of Utah's Labyrinth Canyon. See layers of exposed red rock formations at every turn, investigate cliff side Anasazi ruins, and explore magnificent side canyons. Examine graffiti from early European travelers etched beside Native American petroglyphs on the canyon walls. We will take a close look at John Wesley Powell's explorations of the river and the surrounding terrain.
DAY 1: Meet your shuttle drivers at 8 am in Grand Junction, CO, to travel to Green River State Park, UT. Arrive around 1 pm to meet your river guides and set up camp, with a visit to the John Wesley Powell River History Museum before dinner.
DAY 2: You will participate in a canoe orientation before paddling down river. Today you will see Crystal Geyser, and interesting geologic feature. Paddle for 12-15 miles and setup camp on an island.
DAY 3: Paddle down river past Dellenbaugh's Butte, named for a young artist on the second John Wesley Powell expedition. Camp out at Trin-Alcove.
DAY 4: Layover day. Enjoy scenic hikes up into the side canyons of Trin-Alcove. Explore the weathered sand, and marvel at the geology of this unique landscape.
DAY 5: Paddle down to explore and camp at Hey Joe Canyon. This is a great place to study the geology and plant life of the canyon. We'll also see Fremont rock art etched into sheer sandstone walls. Cool off in the afternoon with a dip in the river.
DAY 6: Paddle down river in an ever-deepening canyon to Bowknot Bend, where the river winds around in a big 7-mile loop. After a fun hike to the top of Bowknot bend, we will continue on to Oak Bottom for the night.
DAY 7: Paddle to Mineral Bottom Landing. Enjoy a fun and festive final night of camping by campfire, under the bright stars of the desert.
DAY 8: Wake up and pack up camp for the last time. Enjoy a tasty breakfast and board the van at 9 am for Grand Junction. Stop at the Deadhorse Point lookout en route, and arrive Grand Junction around noon. Schedule flights to depart after 2 pm.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Utah's Red Rock Canyons are made up of sandstone cliffs, some of which are over a thousand feet high, with side canyons leading back into intimate passages. You will camp on either rock plateaus or sandy beaches. Boat landings are often muddy. The river runs more swiftly in the spring than in the fall. Depending on the water level, you may have a couple areas of swift water, or even rapids. The Green River offers a variety of daily route options from easy to very difficult. Some groups may also paddle in Stillwater Canyon.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: You will travel in 17-foot tandem canoes, which hold two to three paddlers, plus all necessary gear. An average day's travel consists of 4-7 hours of paddling, depending on wind and weather. Travel distances vary from 10 - 14 miles per day with the exception of scheduled layover days. You should have at least one layover day to explore the surrounding canyons and Indian ruins. To protect the environment, WI uses Leave No Trace camping techniques.
WEATHER: Temperatures range from 30 F (evenings) to 90 F (days) in the spring and fall. Be prepared for unpredictable weather, such as sudden thunderstorms or windstorms in the summer or snow storms in the spring and fall.
ACCOMMODATIONS: This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a comfortable Eureka Timberline tent. Typically, there are 3 people per 4 person tent (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of an outhouse or a foldable commode chair set up in a privacy tent. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness. After the trip, showers are available at the campground in Moab.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 10 to 12 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can. Part of the adventure involves learning about daily camp activities.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: If you are new to outdoor activities, you need not spend a lot of money on gear. Wilderness Inquiry will provide all necessary canoeing and camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. If you need to borrow personal gear, that can usually be arranged.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: No previous experience is needed to complete this trip.
A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
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The Green River, beginning in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, cuts almost directly South through the Colorado Plateau on its 730-mile path to its confluence with the Colorado River. We typically paddle in Labyrinth Canyon, though some groups may paddle the final stretch of the Green, along the last sixty miles before the confluence in Canyonlands National Park. Throughout this section, the Green River cuts through the Colorado Plateau. In some places, it is boxed in by canyon walls 2000 feet high, which portray a dramatic chronology of the geological epochs of the last 300 million years.
300 million years ago, the area that now comprises the Colorado Plateau (the dominating feature of the Northern Southwest) was covered with ocean. The ebb and flow of this ancient ocean deposited considerable beach sands, marine limestone (calcium carbonate) and other minerals. Following the retreat of the oceans, the erosion of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains also added layers to the Colorado Plateau. Although the proto-Green and proto-Colorado Rivers did form at this time, it was not until 10 million years ago that the rivers began to cut their characteristic canyons. This accelerated erosion was caused by the uplifting of the Colorado Plateau.
Far below the dry plains of the Colorado Plateau, the ecosystem of the river basins and surrounding canyons is teeming with life. The most apparent vegetation along the rivers remains the tamarisk tree (also called Salt Cedar), which forms dense thickets along the river bottoms. Interestingly, the tamarisk is a native of South Asia, and was introduced to the United States for erosion and flood control. The tree's ability to reproduce rapidly, recover after fire and hoard large quantities of ground water allow it to out-compete the native cottonwoods. In addition to trees, the river bottoms host a wide variety of cacti and other succulents. In the springtime, many species of cactus flower display a startling variety of red, pink and orange blossoms.
Many birds and other animals can also be seen along the river, including the Big Horn Sheep, Beaver, Canada Goose, Great Blue Heron, lizards and snakes. Also of note throughout the area is an interesting community of microorganisms that form patches of cryptogamic soil. These colonies of cyanobacteria form in thin sheaths across the desert floor, absorbing nutrients over hundreds of years. During rainy periods, they swell up to ten times their normal size. As they mature, other plants can grow through them symbiotically by enhancing the host's root system and by tapping into plants' roots for nutrients. These occur in patches of dark, spongy crusts in open areas. Take care not to step on them!
Suggested reading list:
Baars, Don. (1989) Canyonlands Country. Canon Publishers: Lawrence, Kansas.
Belknap, Bill., Belknap, Buzz. (1974) Canyonlands River Guide. Westwater Books: Evergreen, Colorado.
Belknap, Buzz., Evans, Laura. (1978) Desolation River Guide. Westwater Books: Boulder City, Nevada.
Belknap, Buzz., Evans, Laura. (1980) Dinosaur River Guide. Westwater Books: Evergreen, Colorado.
Cunningham, Richard L. (1990) 50 Common Birds of the Southwest. Southwest parks and Monuments Association: Salt Lake City, Utah.
Hoffman, John F. (1985) Arches National Park. Western Recreation Publications: San Diego, California.
Houk, Rose. (1992) Anasazi Prehistoric Cultures of the Southwest. Southwest Parks and Monuments Association: Tucson, Arizona.
Kelsey, Michael R. (1991) River Guide to Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity. Kelsey Publishing: Provo, Utah.
MacMahon, James A. (1988) Deserts. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, New York.
McPherson, Robert S. (1992) Sacred Land Sacred View. Brigham Young University/ Signature Books: Salt Lake City, Utah.
Niehaus, T., Ripper, C., Savage, V. (1984) Southwestern and Texas Wildflowers. Houghton Mifflin Company: New York, New York.
Noble, David Grant. (1995) Ancient Ruins of the Southwest. Northland Publishing: New York, New York.
Peterson, Roger Tory. (1990) Western Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, Massachusetts.
Powell, J.W. (1961) The Exploration of The Colorado River and its Canyons. Dover Publications: New York, New York.
Stall, Chris. (1990) Animal Tracks of the Southwest. The Mountaineers: Seattle, Washington.
Stokes, Lee. (1969) Scenes of the Plateau Lands and How They Came to Be. Starstone Publishing: Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tweit, Susan J. (1994) The Great Southwest Nature Factbook. Alaska Northwest Books: Portland Oregon.
If you have other reading suggestions please let us know!
For more information, visit these links:
National Park Service - Official Canyonlands National Park Website
Canyonlands National Park
Go-Utah.com - Green River
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
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