Running The Rivers in Canyonlands

Getting wet in Canyonlands usually involves a float trip down the Colorado River, but you also can paddle down the Green and end up in the park.

Above the confluence of these two iconic rivers, near the heart of Canyonlands, you have miles and miles of flat water perfect for canoes, sea kayaks and other shallow-water boats.

But below the confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a 14-mile stretch of Class III to V white water.

Flat Water Paddles

Rumored to be one of the Southwest's best canoe trips is the paddle on the Green River 68 miles down from the town of Green River to Mineral Bottom, with an option for another 55-mile paddle to Spanish Bottom, which is the end of the line for canoeists. Hardy paddlers, once they reach the confluence of the Green and the Colorado just above Spanish Bottom, hang a hard left and paddle upstream to Moab.

A permit is required for all overnight flat water trips in Canyonlands. It's recommended that folks interested in flat water permits should make their upstream travel arrangements before contacting the park. Permits are plentiful - it's more likely that shuttle availablility will be a limiting factor for your trip. The National Park Service does not operate a shuttle service.

Unless groups have their own motors or a lot of time to paddle upstream, take out is via jet boat shuttle back to Moab. This service is available from two licensed operators:

Tex's Riverways: (877) 662-2839 or (435) 259-5101

Tag-A-Long Expeditions: (435) 259-8946

White-Water Paddling

One of the classic white-water river trips in the Southwest is riding the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon with the sandstone walls of Canyonlands rising overhead. Most Cataract Canyon trips put in at Potash, Moab, Green River, or Mineral Bottom. The usual take-out for Cataract trips is Hite Marina. However, a prolonged drought has significantly changed conditions on Lake Powell.

If you want a guide to lead you through this stretch, you can find a list of NPS-authorized outfitters at this page.

Now, if you're planning a private float trip in the park, as of March 31, 2011, the park has been assessing a $20 per person per trip cost recovery fee for both flat water and white water trips on the Green and Colorado rivers. That fee will be in addition to the existing reservation fees of $20 per permit for flat water trips and $30 per permit for white water trips.