View topic - Southwestern US float trips

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PostPosted: January 24th, 2014, 11:28 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1882
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
ppine wrote:
The Green is a great river for canoes and the landscape is a nice change for almost everyone. I have been searching for similar trips, on big rivers with minimal rapids and portages that go for long distances.

pknoerr wrote:
ppine, There are dozens of rivers that fit the bill you are requesting. In addition to the Green, I did the San Juan in southern Utah which can be made into two weeks of generally flatwater. But check out for an extensive list of rivers in the western US.

I wanted to bring this into a separate thread. I’m interested in southwestern paddling opportunities for a possible spring trip.

To the list of western canoe trips I would add the Rio Grande through the canyons of Big Bend Nat’l Park. Santa Elena, Mariscal and Boquillas Canyons all offer(ed) good paddling.

I don’t know that the river levels are like these days (the Rio Grande thereabout essentially ran dry at one point 10 years ago), or how the situation along the Mexican border stands, and the shuttles are long (although I had no trouble finding someone to run a haul-back with my truck). On the plus side the Rio Grande in Big Bend is a long ways from nowhere-else-on-route and the shuttle difficulties can bring solitude.

The easiest of those is Boquillas Canyon; 30 miles of riffles at most from Rio Grande Village to La Linda. Santa Elena and Mariscal have some whitewater areas (the Rockslide and Tight Squeeze respectively) that can be carried. And there is some great hiking in the interior as well, up at the 5000 to 7000 foot level in the Chisos.

Less remote and far more peopled the Colorado from Hoover Dam down to Willow Beach or the head of Lake Mohave is a fine and easy trip, with hot springs, interesting wildlife and several outfitters for shuttles and permits (hence more people).

If you can tolerate open water and motor boat traffic the big reservoirs are a possibility. I know the level on Lake Mead and Lake Powell have been down for a decade or more, but the upper end of Lake Powell looks intriguing, and is the furthest away from any useable motor boat launch or marina.

Big lake paddling eliminates the need for sometimes long/expensive shuttles and opens the door to more freestyle timing.

Any beta on tripping Powell, Mead or other southwestern lakes would be appreciated.

PostPosted: January 25th, 2014, 2:38 am 
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Joined: February 19th, 2004, 9:53 pm
Posts: 1451
Location: Atlanta
First is a link to my "SOTP" trip report for the Dolores Slickrock Canyon. Probably not enough snowpack for it to run this year, but an excellent canoe trip in late spring.

Next, a day trip from Pagosa Springs, CO, on the San Juan.

The upper canyon or the lower San Juan.

The lower canyon of the San Juan

The San Juan requires a permit. There will be enough water for canoes at least through June. After that, heat rather than water level is the main problem.

PostPosted: February 8th, 2014, 12:12 pm 

Joined: March 21st, 2013, 11:30 am
Posts: 137
Location: Minden, NV USA
Thanks. Many years ago we planned to paddle the Rio Grande in the winter. We hit the weather all wrong with heavy snow and cancelled it.

Last Feb we paddled 80 miles of the Colo R from Blythe to near Yuma. Heavy frost at night. Part of the river is heavily riprapped. There were some great moments.

I have paddled the Sacramento R many times which always surprises people. We caught some salmon last Sept.

Next up is the Willametter R in Oregon. I like the John Day R and Umpqua R too.

I have thought about the San Juan R for years but have not done it yet.

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