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Floating the lower Green River

The Green River offers many exciting possibilities for floating. One of the more popular floats is from the town of Green River, Utah down to the Mineral Bottom takeout- about 68 miles- or on to the confluence with the Colorado River- about 122 miles total. This is considered a flatwater float, being very calm and easily navigable by most craft. It is very popular with canoes. Mineral Bottom is considered the last takeout on the river- it is easily reachable by car. Many people use this as a put-in and float from there through the rest of Labyrinth Canyon and on through Stillwater Canyon below.

UPDATE- 12 June 2011
I have had a few inquiries and comments lately about floating the Green River. An update on conditions is on order. 

As of 29 march, 2011 Mineral Bottom Road down to the Mineral Bottom boat ramp is open. The switchbacks that were washed out last August have been repaired- and the road looks nice! You can read more and see a photo at the NPS website. But, I was told by someone in Moab a few weeks back that the road from the bottom of the switchbacks up to the boat ramp is now under water. Here is a quote directly from the NPS website: "The road to the Mineral Bottom ramp may be flooded at flows above 30,000 CFS. If this occurs, vehicles left at the Mineral Bottom parking lot will be stranded until the water recedes."

Flows today at Green River town according to the USGS water data website were at about 45,600 CFS- close to reaching record levels.

The White Rim Road was open briefly, but is now closed again. Rain and hail closed the Schafer Trail on the east side of the park on the 18 May. And now the extremely high flows on the Green River have flooded the low sections of the White Rim Road right along the river. According to the 19 May 2011 issue of the Moab Times-Independent, flooding along these sections occurs when the flows reach about 20,000 CFS. You can read more about closures at the NPS website.

Be sure to check in with the the appropriate agency before you leave home if you are planning a trip any time soon. You may have to change your plans. If you are floating any time soon- have fun and be careful.

Guidebooks and the Put In

We used two guidebooks for the trip. Both are very popular and highly recommended. The first is Michael Kelsey's River Guide to Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity. Anyone who has ever used Kelsey's guidebooks knows they are the most thoroughly researched and informative books available. If you are not familiar with his guides, you should be warned that Kelsey is super-human and what he manages to do in a day may take the average person 3 days. If you buy his books, read his warnings! The second guidebook is Belknap's Waterproof Canyonlands River Guide. The Belknap guide is more of a map book. It is in stripmap form and very convenient for navigating the river.

Looking downriver from Bowknot Ridge, downriver side of bend, Green River, UtahThere are two options for putting in right in the town of Green River. The most common is to drive to the boat ramp at the Green River State Park. Just follow the signs down to the river. There is a small fee for putting-in at Green River State Park; this may be three dollars per person, or five dollars per vehicle, depending on who is manning the entry booth. The phone number for Green River State Park is (435) 564-3633. A ranger may check you in at the dock depending on the time of year. So be prepared to show all your required equipment including fire pan, aid kit, toilet and permit- be sure to have a copy of the permit to leave with them. The other option is to put in just above the river bridge on the west side of the river right near the museum. You can also put-in downstream on private land at Ruby Ranch. The fee there is said to be about five dollars per car, but may have changed. They can be reached at (435) 650-3193 to confirm current fees. The put-in at Mineral Bottom is free of charge. It seems to be a safe place to leave a second vehicle for taking out- in August, 2007 there was a Park Service volunteer camping at the site full time.

Permitting- NPS or BLM

Permitting for this section of the Green River, the entire 122 miles from Green River town to the Confluence, is done through the National Park Service. Currently there is a flat fee of twenty dollars for the trip for up to 40 people. Forms can be downloaded online at the National Park Service website. The National Park Service website covers all the details for floating the Green River. Be sure to read the regulations, requirements and other information at their web site so you come prepared. A map showing the lower half of the float, including the Mineral Bottom takeout is also available the NPS website.

If you plan to float from Green River town to Mineral Bottom, a float of about 68 miles, permitting is handled by the BLM Price office since Mineral Bottom is just outside Canyonlands. Download and print the permit, fill out both copies and take them with you to the put in. There is no charge for floating this section of river.

For the long float into Canyonlands you can talk to the very helpful and knowledgeable staff at the NPS at Canyonlands by calling (435) 259-4351. Be sure to take advantage of all the information they offer on their website, including information on float times and distances, regulations, river flows, temperatures and interesting details about the river, the park, plants, animals and archaeology.

Shuttles

After passing Mineral Bottom and heading for the confluence you must be picked up by boat and shuttled back upstream to Moab, Utah unless you are prepared and permitted for the float down Cataract Canyon. Jet boat shuttles can be arranged through Tag-A-Long Expeditions in Moab at (435) 259-8946. You can also visit the Tag-A-Long website for more details. Tex’s Riverways in Moab also offers jet boat shuttles. They can be reached at (435) 259-5101. You can visit Tex’s Riverways website for more details about what they offer.

August 2007 Float

The Anvil, a.k.a. Dellenbaugh Butte, a.k.a. The Inkwell , Green River, UtahA brief description of our experience on this section of river in early August of 2007 goes like this: We put-in our inflatable kayaks at Green River State Park in the town of Green River at about 11 a.m. Ten days later we were at the confluence waiting for our Tag-A-Long jet boat shuttle. Ten days on the river in early August was not nearly enough time. Fourteen days would have made for a more leisurely trip. In early August of 2007 the river was very slow. We averaged about 2 miles an hour, mostly just by floating along, but that included an hour or so of active paddling each day to speed things up. River flows were between 1300 and 1700 CFS, fluctuating with afternoon rains.

The weather was comfortably hot for desert rats, but it was described as “Africa hot” by a northerner who made his way to the southwest for the trip. The clouds rolled in on many afternoons, with rain, just short showers here and there, on about 5 days. One night brought a downpour of about 5 hours. The next day the river was no longer green, but red.

We packed along ten gallons of water per person, which was plenty for about 7 days. After that we settled river water in a collapsible 3-gallon bucket overnight, then filtered it off. If you have the room in your boat, consider packing 11/2 to 2 gallons per day. If not, settling out the silt and filtering is not a big deal on the Green River at this time of year.

Mosquitoes were not really an issue; they were out briefly on a couple of nights. There were gnats on a night or two, but they were easily put off by a light spray of bug juice.


Besides these pests, there were no unwelcome visits, except for a very large Midget Faded rattler (Crotalus viridis concolor) as we waited just below the confluence for our jetboat shuttle (for more on rattlesnakes, click here). After being disturbed from his sunning, he made his way off into the willows. Its all part of the adventure.



 


Latest Visit- August 2009 Float From Green River Town to Mineral Bottom

We did this part of the float in 6 days- although we should have taken 8, from 02 thorugh 07 August. The water was calm, flowing at about 3000 CFS, except in the afternoons when the wind blew up river as it often seems to do making the water very rough for an hour or so. Paddling was necessary to make our daily mileage. We put in at the bridge in town rather than at Green River State Park. We arranged to leave our vehicle across the river at the J.W. Powell River History museum, where we also turned in our permit, so it made more sense to put in there. Besides, there is no charge for the put in or parking.

We had mild weather, in the 80's and clear skies. Mosquitoes and other bugs were not an issue at all, although the spiders at Crystal Geyser, our first campsite, were abundant. Besides watching Crystal Geyser for a night, we took a look at some of the historic inscriptions along the river, the River Register, checked out some of the old water wheels and foundations, and hiked up onto the saddle at Bowknot Bend. There is plenty to do and see along the river- take as much time for the float as you can and you will be able to fill it.

See our 21 August 2009 Blog post for more on this float.

 

Green River Family Float- August 2012- Green River Town to Mineral Bottom

This year we made our way back to the Green River for our family float. We put in on the 19th and took out on the 26th of August. The weather was perfect- not too hot, cloud cover in the afternoons,  and only a couple of storms- one big, dramatic one that put our aging Sierra Designs tent to the test. It held up for the most part, but the zipper has finally given out after 20 plus years of use. A point of note for other Sierra Designs users- I called to see about a zipper replacement and was given an online code for 45% off any new tent. The zipper replacement could reach as much as $125, and while not quite reaching the cost of the new tent, it was close enough. So next year we’ll be trying out the Sierra Designs Zolo 3. Look for  a review of that at some point.


One of our perfect beach camps. We found them around every bend in the river this year.

Back to the river- as usual, there were no bugs, and because it was a little later in the season, we saw on average one other group each day. All in all it was a very calm and quiet float. Unfortunately we missed the fast water last year, when we floated the San Juan. So this time we rowed, and rowed some more. The water averaged about 1200 CFS and we planned accordingly. We gave ourselves 8 days to get from town down to Mineral Bottom, so that we wouldn’t be rushing and could enjoy the big sandy beaches all along the 64 miles of our float. In the end, as usual, we could have used 10 days, or maybe 14, or a whole month if it could be managed- the truth is that the surprises that nature provides are never-ending and a person could spend a lifetime out there enjoying them.

See our 13 September 2012 Blog post to read more about this trip.


Click for Green River, Utah Forecast



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