Green River, UT in the summer?

Hi everyone,

Looking for a 10 days wilderness trip this summer (mid July-August, you know kids, school). Usually we go out North, but this year would like to try something different. Green River, Utah seems to be a good destination, but I have concerns about desert heat. Can somebody share experience what it feels like to paddle there this time of the year? Will we cook alive?

Also, if not Green, are there other good destinations? We are not interested in whitewater beyond class II, though. Grand Canyon is not an option :).



Probably too late for this year
The outfitters that take folks out usually booked up really fast and by now are usually out of places, but you might call Tex’s Riverways to see.

I always wear long sleeves to protect from the sun, and recommend heavy duty sunblock.

It is necessary to carry all drinking and cooking water so plan accordingly. The Green joins the Colorado just above Cataract Canyon and unless you are a real experienced white water paddler, I recommend take out before Cataract Cn. That’s where the outfitters come in, there are no roads accessing the confluence of the Green and Colorado for miles upstream.

Yes, you will.
And there might not be enough water to float you over some sections, depending on how soon you go. As the snow melt is no longer adding to reservoirs, and as irrigation takes its toll on the flow, there will be less in the river bed, even less cause this is a drought year. Bring sunscreen and pack light.

love that desert heat!
Yes, you will cook in the desert, but it’s a “dry” heat :slight_smile: Bring plenty of sunscreen and a good sun hat. When my skin has had enough sun, I put on a white shirt (like Columbia). If you dip it in the river and then put it on, the shirt acts as a great air conditioner as the water evaporates.

Without a permit, I think the only stretch of the Green you can do is Labrinth/Stillwater Canyon. Or you could do the Colorado between Moab and the confluence with the Green. Either way, you will need to arrange a water taxi shuttle, so there is some planning involved. Another option is the San Juan River in Southern Utah. You need a permit, but I know there are still some available for a late July/August launch either out of Sand Island or Mexican Hat. Check with the Utah BLM website. Normally the water is quite low at that time of year, but Colorado and Utah got tons of snow this year, so rumor has it the rivers will still be flowing into August. I’ve got a July 19th launch date out of Mexican Hat.

I guess a third option would be to set up a base camp and do some paddling in Lake Powell…or even pack your camp with you and spend 10 days exploring the side canyons and streams along the shoreline. Something I’ve always wanted to do in my sea kayak.

Good luck, have fun and never underestimate the amount of beer you will drink on a desert river trip!!!

Green River
We did the Green through Desolation Canyon several years back. Our take out was the last Friday in July. This was a family outing, five teenagers in the group. I wouldn’t hesitate going again at this time of the year. There is a continous wind blowing upstream during the day. It was quite hot, but everyone was in and out of the river as necessary to cool off. We used umbrellas to shade ourselves, stopped and hung out in the shade late afternoon, and then continued to our camping spot. I would not take an Aluminum canoe. I would be on the river EARLY, and take plenty of breaks. Go for it. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you will absolutely LOVE the trip. Our kids still talk of returning to the Green River.

expect 100+ days!!! Few people paddle it in the summer. Too hot, not enough water, sand fleas, too tired from the heat.

Go north and maybe paddle the yellowstone River from Carbella north of the park to billings or beyond…maybe Pompeys Pillar (lewis and clark site) Cooler temps.

Or the Missouri since its the 200th anniversary of the lewis and clark expedition.

Put in at Three Forks Montana…the start of the Missouri and go to Great Falls! Plenty of wildlife, fishing, scenary, history etc etc.


Lake Powell
We have paddled Lake Powell five times on trips up to nine days, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it in summer. Not because of the desert heat, but the boat traffic. We have always kept to off-season months due to the number of houseboats and speedboats even in the side canyons. You will find it difficult to find campsites because all the beaches are taken as houseboat mooring sites.

Actually, the reaches of the Green…

– Last Updated: Jul-08-05 2:20 AM EST –

...that do require permits are Lodore Canyon, Yampa Canyon, Ouray to IH 70 at Green River (Desolation and Gray Canyons) and Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons (between the Town of Green River and the Colorado River confluence.) Lodore and Yampa Canyons are in Colorado and require permits from Dinosaur National Monument. The other great canyon runs on the Green are in Utah where BLM issues permits.

You can run from Flaming Gorge to the top of Lodore (46 miles) and Echo Park Campground to Ouray (65 miles) without permits.

Be sure to check with BLM-Utah for the latest permit information. BLM permits are hard to get, but some great paddling can be done without them, though it will not include the prettiest and largest canyons.

For up-to-date info on the Green River and other Utah or Colorado runs visit Southwest Paddler at

Flaming Gorge
Go to Flaming Gorge. You can paddle the Green for 20 miles down from the dam and then spend the rest of the time paddling the reservoir.

Green River - Labyrinth Canyon in August
My photoreport together with some related links from August 2002 trip from Green River to Mineral Bottom under low water conditions (650-750cfs) :

  • not much trafic, a little bit extra of navigation between sandbars, not so hot as it could be (during last weekend paddling on North Platte River in SE Wyoming I had temperatures up 104F). It was sort of training trip, mostly paddling, not too many breaks for resting or hiking - we spent only a weekend there, but, of course, more time is recommended.