Green River, Utah, USA: Flowing over 730miles (1,175km) through the states of Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, the Green River offers so much to the avid paddler. From the mountainous rocky rapids and lush forests of Wyoming to the desolate, but awe inspiring canyons of Colorado and Utah the river shows many different faces before meeting as the chief tributary of the infamous Colorado River.
The *Fremont Culture* is known to be the earliest signs of life in the canyon areas, dating back to the 7th Century. Native American tribes such as the Shoshone and Ute peoples, occupied the land throughout the states of Colorado and Utah in later centuries. Spanish explorers travelling along the Old Spanish Trail were among the first to map the river, but incorrect mapping of its course had later explorers set out to rectify the error, and today, the names of the canyons, rapids and geological features along the river are named after the 1869 mapping expedition of John Wesley Powell and his team.
The river’s untouched, natural beauty is something to behold. The canyon walls and winding twists and turns of the river allow for an exciting and emotional journey. There’s no horizon on this journey, but the one you create… One, that will have you coming back for more.
WHERE (Instead of line points – use dot points (but I can’t get it on mail)
- Nearest Major City: Salt Lake City, Utah
The section of the Green River that we paddled is located near the town of Moab, Utah, which is 187 miles (300km) South-East of Salt Lake City. The River flows for 120miles (193km) to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers.
- Crystal Geyser to the Confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers
- 120miles / 193km
TIME / DAYS
- 10 Days
- Flights: Salt Lake City Airport, Utah / Los Angeles Airport, California
- Car: Driving from Salt Lake City to Moab, Utah takes 3 1/2hrs. Alternatively, a road trip across from Los Angeles to Moab, takes roughly 12 hours.
- Shuttle Service: All river trips need to be logged with permits issued through rafting companies in Moab. There is a selection of companies to choose from, however we used Tag-A-Long Expeditions. These companies organise shuttle drop-offs and pick-ups along the Green River, and jet boat pick-ups along the Colorado River (no motor boats are permitted on the Green. You must pass the confluence of both rivers for the jet boat.)
- BEFORE YOU GO
I’m not going to lie, there is a lot to plan for a trip like this. Ten (10) days out in the middle of the canyons, literally miles from the nearest town, you need to be self sufficient. Making sure you have prepared extremely well, will put you in good stead when you set off from the starting point.
Some things to think about before you go;
Permits – scroll down for more information about obtaining permits for your trip.
Shuttle pick up and drop off
Accommodation in Moab the night before your departure. And also the accommodation at the end of your journey as you will arrive back in Moab at sunset (depending on your shuttle route).
Water – River guides suggest packing one (1) gallon of drinking water, per person, per day. Along with this, you will also need water to cook with and to make coffee/tea with. Another one (1) gallon per day is suggested for cooking as well. You can never have too much water with you in the desert.
Food – prepackaged foods are probably the best form of nutrients for a long trip like this. Just remember you cannot leave your rubbish and waste in the canyonlands, everything needs to be brought back out, so pack light but pack enough food to last. We opted for no cooler on this trip, as it would have been too difficult to keep foods fresh after the fourth or fifth day. Examples of food we packed included trail mixes, muesli bars, rice, pancakes, wraps/rice cakes with a selection of spreads.
Gear & Equipment – The size of your group will depend on the amount of gear you will need, but the basic essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, tarpaulin, cooking utensils, billy, etc, will put you on the right path.
I strongly recommend taking along a Personal Locator Beacon. Robert took one with us and he was able to connect his phone via wifi and receive text messages from loved ones. This is extra handy as they can send through weather updates and warnings. A PLB will also track your movements via satellite and others can log into an account to check on your daily position. You are in complete isolation out there, so it is recommended you take one.
We also took portable solar panels and power packs to charge our camera gear and phones.
A spare SUP paddle may come in handy as well.
There are 2 permits required for the 120mile journey from Crystal Geyser to the Confluence.
- land permit for first section – Bereau of Land Management
- canyon lands permit for second section – National Parks Service
Be sure to book well in advance and coordinate valid permits with the rafting shuttle company of your choosing. Each company is slightly different, so check with them prior to booking. Spots are limited with each shuttle company and this allows for minimal traffic on the water, and at campsites.
One the most fantastic things about paddling the Green River is that you become a minimalist. Spending nights in a tent, cooking from the fire and being self sufficient is all a part of the journey. Searching for a campsite was one of the most exciting things about the paddle. The first night we spent on an island, then the second, we camped on the riverbank and this changed throughout the entire paddle. You never know what was around the corner and where you would be camping of a night. But a good hint is to find a campsite early in the afternoon, to make sure you leave enough time to set up camp before it gets dark.
The riverbanks/islands change with the constant flow of the river. On our trip, we were lucky to have bountiful sand islands to camp at along the river, however, we heard from other paddlers who had previously paddled this section that every trip is different in regards to where you camp.
Certain points along the river are prohibited for camping because of permit restrictions. Carefully read your permits before leaving.
Spare sand tent pegs are helpful too.
GROOVER (portable toilet)
A groover is compulsory for river trips. Make sure you have ‘groover tamer’ before hitting the water. It will make your journey so much more pleasant. Its main purpose is to keep the environment pristine and untouched. Carry out all of your waste.
For a number 1, you go in the river. Number 2′s in the groover.
Rapids – there are no high grade rapids on the 120mile section of the Green River. There are however, two (2) small rapids within the first five (5) miles. If you get a lot of rain on the trip, the river flows a little bit faster, and the shallow sections become faster flowing. You can hear the rapids from a distance, so you get warning of faster flowing water up ahead. Once you reach the confluence at the end of your trip, find a campsite close by the sign-on box (you will need to register your campsite once you are on the Colorado).
Course – The Green River traverses through incredible canyon walls. With constant bends and loops, there is hardly ever a long straight stretch of river. You never know what is around the corner.
The colour of the river changes with very different view. At the top of our bowknot bend hike, the river looked as is sounds, green. On the river, the mud and silt makes it look brown in colour, but everyone has their different perspectives.
The flow of the river is quite constant and this makes the paddling easy.
HIKES & WALKS
There are so many different options for hikes along the river. Each side canyon has opportunities for walks, and there are some amazing hikes to fascinating geological and historical features. We planned three (3) hikes along our trip.
Bowknot Bend – incredible views of both sides of the river. The point on the river where its course does a loop, almost right back on itself. Easy to medium grade hike, as there is some steep rocky parts along the trail.
Upheaval Dome – ancient meteorite site. It is suggested that millions of years ago, a meteorite struck here on earth, creating the dome like shape. A very long walk from Hardscrabble Bottom, but well worth it. You can see the crater from satellite images on maps.
Fort Bottom – a masonry tower structure that was supposedly used as a signalling beacon between the Asanazi Indian tribes. Spectacular views of the river. Easy walk, with a slight climb at the end to reach the top of the hill.
THINGS OF INTEREST & GOOD TO KNOW
- The mud and silt from the river felt really good on the skin. Very cleansing.
- The nighttime was quite cold. We wore jackets and track pants almost every night. Robert even wore his beanie some nights.
- Jackets also come in handy for the Jet Boat pick up. The wind is extremely cold and chilling, so when you finish the paddle and are waiting for the jet boat, make sure to unpack your jumper for the journey back upstream.
- Because of the Green Rivers isolation, it is always good to pack a first aid kit, the same for any journey. However with the desolate area, there may be a few other animals that you come across. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, coyotes, etc, are rare to come across, but are found out in the canyons. Have your wits about you, be safe, be careful, but most of all, have fun!