We did this float in May, mostly because it was before the bugs came out. After having been to the upper part of Labyrinth Canyon in January, we knew we wanted to go back and spend some time on the Green River. The 730-mile-long Green River is the main tributary of the Colorado River, beginning in Wyoming and flowing through Utah. The powerful river winds through the sandstone canyons on the west edge of Canyonlands National Park, converging with the Colorado River at the southern tip of the park. We floated from Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom, which is a popular float. Here are the route details,
We thought about driving and taking our own canoes, but after talking through details, decided against it. We found Tex’s Riverways outfitters, and had a great experience with them! (Shout out to our front end shuttle driver, Colin). After our hike in Bullet Canyon, at the start of the trip, we drove up to Moab to load up on groceries for our 4 day, 3 night float trip. An overnight hotel stay, and we met the shuttle at Tex’s on Friday, May 7.
For this trip, you do need to get camping permits, and Tex’s is a good resource to help with figuring those things out. We rented one tandem , 16’9” canoe, and had plenty of room for all our gear, which included the required portable potty. Tex’s includes one with your canoe rental, and they also offer cooler rentals, ice, and other equipment you may not be able to bring on the airplane.
We set out from the Ruby Ranch boat ramp mid-day, and floated through calm, breezy, comfortable conditions. We made a couple of stops to see some points of interest . One of those was “3 mile canyon” which was listed as hosting “ Indian Rock art”. We climbed all around that canyon and all over those rocks, and didn’t see any art on any rocks. ? Still, it was fun to explore, and a good place to stretch our legs
We’d read, and been told by Tex’s, that the winds can really pick up in the evening on the Green River at this time of year. There is a lot of information about the force of the wind and the difficulty of the paddle in those conditions. Sometime in the early evening on our first day, the winds came. The smooth, waveless level 1 river suddenly turned into a wild whitecap level III-IV experience. (that may be a slight exaggeration – but it was a rapid to be sure). Shannon was in the captain’s seat in the back, and worked hard to keep us steady and pointed in the right direction. After an hour or so of this, we decided to stop for the night.
By the time we were ready to settle in and make dinner, the wind had died down considerably, and we enjoyed sitting out on the beach, looking at the incredible cliffs all around us, and watching the stars come out. The weather was mild, and we left the fly off of the tent so we could lay in it and look up at the stars, which were brilliant out here. It was glorious and we fell asleep easily. That is, until sometime in the wee hours of the morning, when we awoke to buckets of sand being poured over us. The wind had picked back up, and Shannon was up and securing the fly. There was about 2 inches of sand in the tent by now, and it was everywhere. Lesson learned.
The next morning was calm, and we set out to explore.
Our day 2 adventures included: Keg Springs Canyon, Hey Joe Mine, and a 1909 expedition inscription.
The mine is located on an ATV trail. It seemed that there were a quite a few people who were renting or bringing their own ATV’s to travel (bounce along) the endless dirt roads through this part of the canyon.
The “mine” wasn’t what I was expecting, as it was a hill with a tractor on top that they’d mined by scraping with a front loader. I guess that’s what a strip mine is! Still, it was a nice walk and fun to explore and we had a nice conversation with a group from California who were having a picnic on this tractor, which is also listed as a point of interest on the route maps others have left.
The Launch Marguerite was a wooden paddle wheel boat. You can find out more about it here if you’re interested.
Part 2 coming soon!