Green River Cultural Travels 2006
River Rafting Journey through a Desert Wilderness!
The Green River in Utah has something ideal for just about everyone! by Bill Dvorak, Bill Dvorak Rafting & Kayak Expeditions
You are given the assignment of finding a perfect river trip in a desert wilderness and want to cool down by rafting or kayaking beginner-intermediate white water. This trip would need to meet the ideal expectations of most persons. This trip would offer an breath taking river flowing through the desert, wilderness, canyon explorations and adventure to meet the desires of individuals, families, youth groups and couples and more………..then I would say, “Stop Looking”!
There is such a place that exists! The Green River through the Green River Wilderness Area in Utah. The desert canyons of Desolation & Gray surrounded by desert filled with side canyons, ancient Fremont Indian ruins, layers of desert eco-systems and a river running through it. The Green River is your ideal location.
This 86 mile section of the Green includes two of the most remote and isolated desert wilderness river canyons in the lower 48 states. This section of the river begins tranquilly in the Utah desert and gradually blends into deeper red sandstone canyons. In fact at its deepest point, near crystal clear Rock Creek, Desolation Canyon is as deep as the Grand Canyon at Bright Angle Trail: 5,287 ft. Those first 26 miles of relatively calm water gives way to over 62 rapids in the remaining 60 miles. These rapids start out class I-II and build to solid class III as you move downstream. Not only does this allow novice boaters to become comfortable in their new crafts at the beginning of the trip, it also offers the perfect progression of challenge for the beginning boater. It does not matter the type of craft, hard shell kayak, inflatable kayak, raft, sport-yak or canoe the evolution of skill development is ideal. In addition the water temperature of the river during summer months is very warm, and when coupled with the high air temperatures it makes getting wet a pleasure, not a deterrent!
When you combine this ideal boating progression with those majestic canyon walls, and put it all in a remote wilderness canyon it seems you’ve got it all, right? Wrong! The benefits of this trip don’t stop there. There are also incredible side canyon hikes in which you may visit old moon shiners’ cabins, see walls of Fremont and Anasazi pictographs and petroglyphs, swim in crystal clear spring fed side streams, fossic through pioneer homesteads and see and hear stories about where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid once hid out. In fact, some of the ‘Wild Bunch’ actually met their untimely ends in these secluded canyons.
Due to the canyons’ remoteness and inaccessibility, most outfitters fly their clients in small planes from Salt Lake City, Utah or Grand Junction, Colorado onto a landing strip on a mesa above the put-in point. This flight, taken early in the morning of your first day, offers spectacular birds-eye views of the canyons and landscape that should not be missed! From the plane you can follow the twists and turns of the Green River and view some of the beautiful sites you’ll be seeing up close in the next several days. Most trips through Desolation and Gray Canyons are 5-8 day duration.
Once on the river you will find that its warm water, expansive sand beaches and shady cottonwood groves also make this river a fantastic wilderness camping experience. Many a new camper has found that tents in the desert are not always necessary and in fact end up sleeping out under the stars on the beach. The totality of the experience is brought home by marveling at the celestial brilliance of the constellations, framed by the canyon walls that have guided adventurers for centuries. In fact a variety of specialty river trips have been inspired by historical explorations of the area and those have in turn spawned a specialty trip for almost everyone. These vary from recreations of John Wesley Powell’s first exploration to corporate team building, teenage skills camps, women’s trips, singles trips, or trips doing Yoga on the beaches and featuring vegetarian faire, and even Chukar (a small upland game bird) hunting in the fall.
One of the most spectacular specialty trips involves bringing music to the river and its canyons. Some outfitters have been featuring ‘Classical Music Journeys’ and other music oriented trips for years in these canyons. The natural amphitheaters, large sandy beaches, grassy meadows and shady cottonwood groves provide a natural concert hall and offer exceptional acoustics for musical performances provided by various philharmonic and orchestra musicians that come on the trip. This is a once in a lifetime experience for many people and one that music aficionados should not miss! It is often such a powerful experience that many clients and musicians return year after year to find inspiration as well as to rejuvenate themselves, and their creative juices.
Speaking of rejuvenation, the Green River is also and exceptional trip for inter-generational family outings. Many grandparents, parents, and kids as young as 5 years old will enjoy the experiences available on this section of the river. Daily travel for old and young alike may be riding down river in an oar boat conversing with a guide full of stories about the river; (and usually some tall tales about their own experiences!). Or possibly Mom, Dad and their older kids can navigate the river in one or two man inflatable kayaks or adults and teenagers alike can take on the challenge of learning how to hard shell kayak. Everyone can experience the river at the same time yet all will have their individual story to tell at the end of the day and each will have done something unique. The family bonding on these trips is a delight to behold. In fact all the trips, including those that are more specialized, have their own magic. It’s something that cannot be explained but must be experienced. Those that have done so will understand that there truly is “River Magic” and that no two trips are the same. However from seasoned river pros to those who will be on their first river trip, Desolation and Gray Canyons on the Green River will be a memorable experience.
The Green River through Desolation and Gray Canyons is truly one of the Southwest’s lesser known exceptional river trips. It’s affordability (some outfitters have lower family rates or have ‘Kids Go Free’ dates), and accessibility from major airports in Grand Junction, Colorado or Salt Lake City, Utah make it one of the best adventure vacation venues available for any type of group or individual. In so many ways, it well deserves the title of an ideal river experience.
Also can be viewed at http://www.theculturedtraveler.com/Archives/FEB2006/River_Rafting.htm#