Green River Utah trip

I am planning to do the Green River stretch in Utah in late September. Maybe one half or maybe the entire 100 miles from Ruby Ranch to Spanish Bottom.

I’ll be taking my OT Pack Canoe to carry enough water as I am told that filtering the river is not a good idea.

I’m ordering the Canyonlands Guidebook from REI tomorrow and have printed up the google-earth maps.

Anyone here do that run and have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions or experiences?

I’m not a beginner, nor am I an expert, maybe intermediate or experienced as I’ve done multi-day trips up and down various stretches of the Colorado River and week-long around-the-lake live-from-my-kayak trips so have some experience in this. But never did a 2 week trip on a river that has uranium tailings in the water.

Excellent trip

– Last Updated: Aug-27-14 1:09 PM EST –

I haven't done the whole section you're talking about - only Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottoms - but its the trip of a lifetime. Every paddler should do it at least once.

1) We had very good luck making arrangements/permitting through Tex's Riverways in Moab. They'll supply a groover (required) and clean it (worth a lot right there...), they're equipped to run shuttles on some of those roads running down the cliff sides; in short, they know what they're doing on the Green. This isn't an ad for them, there are others perhaps better suited for raft runs on the Colorado etc., but Tex's was very good for us on the Green.

2)Keep your mileage/day down. The guy who had Green river experience and more or less led my introductory trip figured on only 10mi/day. (I thought that was absurdly low when I first heard it. "And what," I thought,"will we do for the remaining 22 hours of the day?") I now see he was exactly right. Allow plenty time to hike the canyons and soak in the nature of where you are. Those canyons are like nowhere else on the planet and it would be a crime to spend the precious few days of your lifetime when you'll be in them racing downriver. Pull off the water and pitch camp in time to watch the evening colors change around your camp.

3) Expect weird winds. Stake down your tent as if for a storm even if it doesn't look at all like you'll need to. We were hit by a gale of wind without build-up, warning, or a cloud in the sky. And it disappeared just as quickly. Like nothing I've ever seen anywhere else. Think it might have something to do with cooling evening air in the canyons while a desert sun is still cooking the flats above the canyons generating localized and sporadic roaring winds. But it could take a tent or an unsecured canoe very easily.

4)In mid-Sept be prepared for temps from below freezing to full summer heat. You're at around 4,000ft, as I recall. Temps can change surprisingly (to an upper Mississippi river guy at least) fast, as in the mountains, in any event.

5)IMHO, for that river you'll be better served by a freight hauler of a boat that can take a beating than a BWCA "fast cruiser" or other higher performance boat. The sand is abrasive (like rubbing compound), river water very muddy, steel groovers not shaped to fit shallow arch hulls. You'll want to carry at least a gallon of water/person/day. You'll also want a couple extra 5 gal buckets to fill with river water as soon as you hit camp. By morning enough mud will have settled out to siphon off enough "clean" water to wash your dishes with. All this kind of stuff makes a "beater, freight hauler" boat better suited to this trip than fancier boats. I'm thinking at least one Grumman in the group is a good idea.

Hope these ideas help a bit.

Have a GREAT trip - I know you will...

PS: I was favorably impressed with Belknap's waterproof Canyonlands River Guide. Perhaps there are better guides for the Green, but I don't know which. Don't forget to read your Ed Abbey...

What’s that about your OT Pack and
carrying “enough water”?

I needed a much bigger canoe to carry enough water for three days and two nights on the Dolores.

You need a big canoe with carrying capacity.

Agree to all of that
Have fun …

and yes to the winds

From a folk song from the Utah Indian War my grandfather used to sing …

our tea is full of sand and our bread is full of grit

the wind blows all over us whenever it sees fit

you can talk about your gritty men

but I think we take the prize

we are sanded on the inside and all around the eyes .

how much did you haul?
Even in Arizona we only need a gallon a day which is 8 1/2#/gal.

5 days means 5 gallons = 42 pounds! That plastic jerry-can will easily fit under my seat. Then I can filter-&-refill whenever I see a side stream that looks cleaner than the Green.

I know one woman who hauled her gallon PLUS 5 gallons per day for a daily shower. but even on a 5-day trip around a lake, I hauled a gallon in the kayak and filtered every evening.

I’m taking a solo-canoe because a) I am not big enough to paddle my Coleman Ram-16 alone and b) I’d rather not fight with my canoe-mate because she did what I told her to instead of what I wanted her to do.

Still, I am considering your suggestion as it seems worthwhile.

Agree with PJC but add
I agree with all that PJC said. Especially taking time to do hikes. We even took a layover day just below Bowknot Bend.

I will add three things:

  1. We found it best do start our paddling earlier in the morning by 9 am, in order to get off the river to set up camp by 3 pm. This way uou have a better chance of avoiding the afternoon winds, finding a better camp site, and having enough time for afternoon hikes up the side canyons when the lighting is better for photographs.

  2. Don’t depend on finding “cleaner” or any water on the side streams. When we were there in the fall all the side streams were dry. So, carry all the water you intend to drink or have in your food, including water for coffee. You can do as PJC said and leave a bucket of water to settle overnight, then boil that the next morning for washing last night’s dinner dishes and the morning’s breakfast dishes.

  3. Even if you are not into photography like I am, make sure you bring extra batteries and memory cards for your camera. You are likely to take many more photographs than you think you will. Better safe than sorry. At 62 for us it was a once in a lifetime trip.

Do NOT assume any water

– Last Updated: Aug-27-14 4:48 PM EST –

unless you get a few folks with experience there to tell you there is a reliable source and how not to miss it -- and I'm hearing folks tell you the opposite. I did a 7-day trip just upriver from there (Desolation and Gray Canyons) in June and only after getting real good advice (on the mountain buzz forum) about a reliable source of clear filterable water was I comfortable carrying only enough good water for the first half of the trip.
On your planned section, I have only been as far as Mineral Bottom -- great trip! -- you've got good advice here.

Did a twelve day trip this April.
It was the third time I did the trip. You can’t filter water since the Green is too muddy. Can’t count on water in streams so I carried enough for the whole trip. I like the gallon containers since you can stash them in small places and crush them flat when empty. I rented the outfitter’s potty and was very unhappy with the decision since it took up way too much room and was heavy. I had to pack the canoe around the potty. The other two trips I brought my own.

Watch out for the wind. I got caught on the river with the wind so strong that I couldn’t control my canoe but couldn’t get off the river because of cliffs.

Campsites can be a problem depending on the water level. Too low and you have to slog through impossible mud and deal with high banks. Too high and the islands disappear. In April the water was low and made some of the canyons nearly impossible to get into. I was sinking in the mud up to my knees. The mud would suck my shoes off so had to walk with my Seal skins on when walking in the mud. Look for the red beaches since it is sand and easier to walk on. High banks and thick vegetation can make getting into a bottom very difficult. It’s a great trip.

water bottles
Over the years I’ve been collecting those bladders from box-wines and making cloth bags to protect them.

That is another possibility as they can fit almost anywhere.

Concur with your advice and water ideas
I’ve done Ruby to Spanish three times now - yes it is that nice.

Drinking water will be a major concern. If you settle out the Green River water, it can be filtered. Using alum you can settle out a 6 gallon bucket in about an hour or two.

Buy those 2 1/2 gallon plastic rectangles of water and have your outfitter bring them to mineral bottom at the halfway point on agreed-upon date. We had a 10 gallon resupply at our midway point.

Get a small cooler perhaps 20 quart size. Find 1 or 2 liter plastic water bottles that will fit it. If you bring them frozen, they will act to provide you refrigeration for your first three or four days. Afterwords they are a nice clean water supply.

Bring two collapsible buckets. One can be used to settle out for filtering water, The other is settled out and used for washing. Take A plastic Coke bottle and cut off the very top. Poke holes in the bottom and now you have a dipper that is a shower. Do all your soaping out of the bucket by using the dipper and your second bucket will stay pretty clean.

Layover days are good filtering days and a gravity filter makes it especially easy.

Absolutely stunning trip - well worth doing

I was thinking about going again this Sept. Didn’t work out but I did make an inquiry at Tex’s about water.

They said they could (for a price I assume) do a water drop at some inconspicuous prearranged spot near Mineral Bottoms, since they do frequent put-ins and take-outs there anyhow. That’s about half way. Perhaps that suggests something to you…

Done it twice
In April there was plenty of settled water in side canyons and the occasional spring. We used a gravity filter but did bring 2 2.5 gal water jugs after they were empty we used them to sete and decant water.

The water filter did not clog. And we just did ten days on Superior and used the same filter

Sept is decidedly more unpleasant (our first trip was in Sept). We had to use alum to clump the sediment then let settling and filtering happen. While not fun then it IS still possible to filter and drink the Green

Native Utahn Here
I would just carry plenty of fresh water to drink and avoid cooking that uses water. You can put lots of bottles low along the keel and behind the seat, we actually just use plastic water jugs.

You don’t know if there are going to be storms that can turn side canyons into muddy messes. Filters will clog and the water tastes like s__t.

good thought
I was thinking of asking if that were possible.

Yeah, with the wind that sweeps that
open water, it can’t hurt to have a hunnert pounds of Walmart plastic water bottles as ballast.

I have a nice water bag too, but it’s actually more trouble to use. The Walmarts, once empty and resealed, are just more flotation, all in a mesh bag.

Green R
It is very interesting to hear of others’ experiences on the Green. I did town to Mineral Bottom. Fall is the best time to go. Bring a copy of JW Powell’s journal and read it around the campfire at night.

I am not sure where all of these ideas come from about carrying water on canoe trips. I used a regular water filter and settling. Alum is a great idea.

Big boats are the norm on the Green and big loads. The afternoon wind can be fierce, sometimes building to whitecaps as there is a lot of fetch in the canyon.

Water bottles
I’m surprised at all the recommendations for buying bottled water. Why not just fill up empty water bottles or milk jugs? Never understood why anyone would pay for water and waste all that plastic.


You can do that
You probably will be using a shuttle service. There is a hose at Tex’s for filling water jugs.

Plus the local City Market on weekends is often plumb out of bottled water. When the California crowd comes or the UTV convention, supplies are depleted fast.

direction ?
wind blows down canyon with current or up canyon aganst current… ?

now, of course we know the answer but from experience ?

so why does the wind always blow up the canyon against our travel direction with current ?

Inside Passage

sail and motorboat manual…the $35 tome with map on cover…lists taverns within walking distance from the dock.