In mid October I took a five day kayak trip down the Labyrinth Canyon section of the Green River in Utah, from Green River on I-70 to Mineral Bottom near Island in the Sky, about 67 miles. It was a good time, lots of new experiences and photo ops, very different but also very similar to hiking in the Colorado High Country.
The quiet of the slow moving river, flowing through the sandstone cliffs, was something I'll never forget. Along with plenty of sun, good campsites, and relative solitude, it's a relaxing trip.
Proper planning is essential. The water requires a LOT of filtering, and campsites can be few depending on the water level. Shuttling vehicles from the put in point to the take out requires some work too. I used Coyote Shuttles from Moab, and they did a fantastic job. Quite the joy to see your truck there at the landing when you arrive.
Leaving Green River, Utah, you float under the railroad bridge, then I-70.
After 5 miles of open desert, you arrive at Crystal Geyser, a rare example of a cold water carbon dioxide driven geyser. Powell noticed it's original form in 1869 on one of his expeditions, but its present form dates to a 1935 exploratory oil well that kicked it into gear. The surrounding orange travertine is from the current version, some white travertine layers date from the earlier natural time. I didn't see it erupt, but the couch gallery seems to indicate the locals come here to witness something.
The 'River Quaternion' on its test run outside Green River, Utah.
As you enter Labyrinth Canyon, the rock walls grow ever higher, and the river slows it's pace as if in awe.
At mile point 70 you come upon Bowknot Bend, where the river takes a wide turn and then comes back to within a few hundred yards of itself. This takes 7 river miles, but you can hike up to the gap, and look down on the river below you on either side.
I hiked up to the gap at nightfall and shot the sunset, and the rising of the Milky Way. The camp fires of other folks could be seen far in the distance from my vantage point between the bends.
For a map of the area, click here: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/recreation/River_Recreation/LabyrinthCanyon/labyrinth_map.html
The guide book I used and recommend is Belknap's Waterproof Canyonlands River Guide:
Most folks I saw on the river used canoes, which had a larger carrying capacity. The river has no rapids in Labyrinth Canyon to speak of, so canoes or sea kayaks will work fine. Whatever you choose to float in, it's a fun, relaxing trip along a spectacular stretch of river!
Keywords: Bob Fergeson, Colorado, Coyote Shuttle, Green River, Labyrinth Canyon, Utah, canoe, canyon, clouds, kayak, landscape photography, mountains, nostalgiawest, river, stars
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