Looking for Wisdom, Labyrinth Canyon Green River

In a couple of weeks I’ll be paddling Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River. I’m joining others, some who have done this trip before. There is some raft/dory support. I’ll be able to off load my camp chair and paco pad and the only food I will need to carry are my own snacks. All other personal gear/tent I will carry in my boat. Going from Green River to Mineral Bottom, 68 miles- 6 days with side hikes. I already have the Labyrinth Canyon River Guide and a gps. I plan on taking a camera

I have done surprisingly little western canyon paddling. I know this is a flatwater trip. Here’s what I want to know from pcom folks that have done this or similar stretches:

If you could take any boat what would it be? solo canoe, tandem canoe, rec kayak with hatches, sea kayak?

what gear did you take that was useless?

What do you wish you had brought?

Thoughts on bugs, wind, mud, trekking poles for hiking? Strategies to deal with heat?

My prep so far, I bought a light flatwater paddle. I figure on using my pakayak (2 hatched rec boat) or tandem canoeing out of the madriver adventurer. I bought some heavier duty astral footwear. I know I need to get a big straw hat, I usually wear a ballcap. Figure on taking bug dope, sunscreen, mesh tent with fly.

Group things like cookware and the groover are already taken care of. In other words, what worked for you and what didn’t work for you that were personal items?

Must see and do things in the canyon or surrounding area? (I have already hiked in arches and paddled fisher towers section of the colorado)

just looking for general advice

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Have not been for years. This was a section that used to be canoe friendly. I have heard they are maintaining flow levels by releases from Flaming Gorge. I don’t remember the in canyon water source, but I would bring lots of my own water, during summer and low water conditions from side streams.

I like the suggestion of taking extra drinking water. Most of the water will be carried by rafts and I always carry some water in my own boat, but I’ll probably want to double or triple that. Thanks and keep the suggestions coming.

My own son did a private grand canyon trip in July a couple of years ago . He said “it was hotter than hell. We brought too much beer, what we really wanted was more drinking water. We were trading beer for water.”

I want to avoid that scenario. My son makes a pretty good probe. Sometimes you want to follow the probe and other times you want to go a different direction.

While it is possible to filter that river water it still tastes odd… A bottle of water from Walmart is going to be refreshing for drinking.
Poles for hiking. You will be in snake country and if you hike around some of the bottoms you want to poke bushes you hike by.

We loved our screw in the ground beach umbrella. It packs small and is adjustable.

NO on the mesh tent !! no NO no. We took one on our first trip and breathed fine silt all night. It works right through the mesh…It comes in under the fly… If you like to wake up with grit in your mouth its OK’
Find the best solid nylon tent with minimal mesh you can. On our second trip we took a 4 season mountaineering tent. It has very little mesh… That trip was way more clean inside. More of a hassle to set up.

If you can take sand stakes do so… We camped on a sandbar one night and hiked the next day. We shared the site with others as it was big… One of their party looked down at the camp from the Dollhouse and a tent was gone. It had not been deadheaded ( I am sure your leader is well versed in the need to do this). So the tent ran Cataract Canyon with a sleeping bag and clothing and sleeping pad. Its owner had a very cold night that night as it snowed.

Mud??HAHA… Yes. Your boat will be filthy and a bit of a chore to clean for the shuttle back to Moab. Wind?? HAHA… Some days none and other days the wind comes up the canyons and you get whitecaps and two foot waves.
The hat better come with a strap.

We took a tandem as there were two of us and had no raft support. i wanted the groover as far away as possible. We have seen sea kayaks on the Green but the groover has to go right in back of the paddler. Who wants to paddle cuddling shit? Solos would work too but it is handy to have help steadying the boat while exiting… I jumped out once and hit mud and fell in the channel… It had steep banks.

What do I wish I had brought? A western bird and flower book. We have gone in Sept but also in May . We got snowed on both times. And sat in 103 temp both times.

Layers… as usual are the recipe.

There is an excellent book by Kelsey if you are interested in the history as you travel. It is well worth the price


It is a flat water trip but the wind is occasionally fierce in the afternoon. I like big tandem canoes for that run. The weather can be unbelievably hot. I like a flannel sheet for most night. Add a blanket maybe. Even a light sleeping bag can be too hot. Bring sun protection including away to cover your face. We stayed cool by floating in the River with the boats.

We settled river water overnight and pumped it through a filter. You can use a pre-filter.
Bring a machete for hacking through the tamarisk to get to some good campsites. Side canyon hikes are pretty good. The road to Mineral Bottom is very interesting. Notice the smashed cars along the route.

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We have never taken the trailer shuttle down and up from Mineral Bottom. We have launched from Green River both times. So it piqued our interest to find out just how bad that road was to Mineral Bottom was.
After we were done in 2015 we drove our truck down from the rim to Mineral Bottom… Hats off to the trailer shuttle drivers. I drove ; hubby gleefully pointed out the wrecked cars on the mountain side. Very interesting is how I characterize our hubby=wife conversation.

I expect your guides or the folks who have done this trip before will be on to this, but take a 5 gal bucket with you. When you set camp be sure to collect river water and let it settle overnight for dish washing and perhaps sponge baths – the river carries unbelievable amounts of silt but can be used for purposes other than drinking after settling overnight. Save your drinking water for drinking. Use a fire pan and keep the fires small to preserve night vision - its incredibly beautiful down there under star and moonlight also.
As previously mentioned, the sand is indeed fine, and will get through mosquito netting. Its like polishing compound - color will rub off a glass boat dragged over the sand.
An auger such as is used for dog tie outs is a good idea to tie your boat to at night. Ferocious winds can come out of nowhere - perhaps especially just before the take-out at Mineral Bottom (near Hell Roaring canyon). At least that’s where I got hit when I did it.
Trin alcove canyon, very near the start of the run, is a really nice hike. When you get to Bowknot bend don’t forget to climb up to “the saddle” and sign the note pad at the base of the cairn at the top. (Though keep an eye out - the climb up looks like rattlesnake territory to me…)
Take lots of photos at dawn and dusk - its amazing how the light on the canyon walls changes in just a few minutes. You’ll treasure them for as long as you live.
If you happen to be out during a full moon, check out the moon shadows. The air is so dry and clear that if you hold your arm out the shadow cast on the sand is so sharp you can see the shadow of your finger nails. And the stars are spectacular.
Don’t forget to listen. There were stretches that were absolutely dead silent - quieter than in a cave but without the drips and as big as all outdoors. Its a notable sensation. At one point I recall hearing the sound of water running but couldn’t identify the source of the sound till almost half a mile later - a single twig in the flow.
Its worth checking out the remnants of the Hey Joe uranium mine if you have time.
Expect whatever boat you take to take a beating. Probably load carrying capacity is more important than speed. Maneuvering ability is not really necessary - its a big flat river. There will likely be a few awkward landings on sharp boulders.

Take your time - you’ll not paddle a river this spectacular often in your lifetime - savor it.

Appreciate that Mineral Bottom road. Its a spectacular feat of road building and those who regularly run shuttles on it in fifteen passenger vans with trailers are drivers with a very specialized skill set. Not a drive for flatlanders or the faint of heart.

You’re in for a spectacularly beautiful trip. Its magical, like paddling through time itself.


I don’t remember all of it but I learned this folk song about the Green River growing up in Utah
I don’t remember if it came from the Utah War or from a posse sent out to catch the Wild Bunch at Hole in the Wall. It’s on some old recordings made of Utah folk songs, and the Deseret String Band I think recorded it.

We left our homes in Utah, it was so very hard
to march to Colorado and there take up our guard

Now we’re in the river and
Our tea is full of sand and our food is full of grit
and the wind blows all over us whenever it see fits
the river is so muddy
and it tastes just like the breeze
that comes from the little outhouse in the trees.

and when the wind comes
it all comes in flirt
and golly it’s hot enough to nearly burn your shirt.


Lots of sage advice so far. Couple of tips.
Bring a squeeze bike water bottle. This came in handy when our group had to clean tent zippers which were not operating due to blown in sand. The bottle allowed us to ration the water by someone dribbling water while another operated the zipper. Worked successfully on 3 tents. The sand can have the consistency of flour and when blown it goes through screens.

I’ve brought 2 collapsible buckets each of which settles out river water and it is among the first things I do at camp. Cut the top off a plastic water bottle, punch holes in the bottom and you have a shower. Reserve one bucket for washing with soap and use the other only for extracting clean water.

Stay in the current, cutting off those long river curves will be shorter but slower and have you work harder. I love early morning with a coffee at hand in the current of a bend in the river while in the shade of the cliff


thanks for all the advice, exactly the kind of info I am looking for


You got a lot of great advice, with which I agree.

I agree a tool is useful for tamarisk clearing but suggest long-handled pruners instead of a machete. It’s a long haul to the ER, and pruners are more effective IMO. Anybody know if the beetles (Diorhabda) they introduced have made any headway on the tamarisks?

Regards settling silt out of water, a small amount of alum is more effective than settling, and takes only minutes. Search for the specifics, I’m sure it’s on YouTube and elsewhere. Not only is alum effective, but you get to use the word “flocculating!”

As mentioned by others, it’ll be hot and often there isn’t shade. A tarp can be useful, the more opaque the better.

It’s a great trip.


Choose the time of year carefully. Mid summer can be awfully hot. We went in July and it was 112-114 degrees during the day. Cool off by floating in the river with the boats.