Five Things That Make Lodore Canyon EpicFebruary 2, 2018
Five Things that Make Lodore Canyon so Epic. There is really no other way to begin a blog about Lodore canyon than with a selection from the poem that gave it its name.
Here is part of Cataract of Lodore by Robert Southey:
“It runs through the reeds,
And away it proceeds,
Through meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade,
And through the wood-shelter,
Among crags in its flurry,
Here it comes sparkling,
And there it lies darkling;
Now smoking and frothing
Its tumult and wrath in,
Till, in this rapid race
On which it is bent,
It reaches the place
Of its steep descent.
The cataract strong
Then plunges along,
Striking and raging
As if a war raging
Its caverns and rocks among;
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound:
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.”
The poem goes on to describe the “guggling and struggling, And heaving and cleaving, And moaning and groaning,” of this river. The poem has more verbs than any other I have read, which makes sense. Rivers are active, they demand verbs.
Originally, John Wesley Powell just named the entrance to Lodore Canyon. “The Gates of Lodore” is what he called it, evoking the gates of heaven. And heavenly the place is. There, the wide canyon narrows between steep cliffs. You descend into an intimate and wild landscape, one of our Holiday guides’ favorite spots on the river.
Here are five of the reasons that we really love Lodore.
Intimate Canyon Vibes
Perhaps the most serene and unobtrusive way to enter a canyon is by river. You float atop the water, leaving barely a trace. The canyon walls tower over you, and every part of nature seems to go about its business as if you were an intimate friend, a part of the natural flow of the environment. This is especially true in Lodore.
Lodore Canyon is home to Harp Falls, which is the narrowest point on the entire Green and Colorado River system. Our guides frequently describe it as a place that ‘holds’ them as they float down the river. As if some friendly giant has scooped up the water of the river into her hands and the boat is merely floating along like a twig.
The Technical Class 3-4 Rapids
When the river narrows, its current quickens. In Lodore Canyon, the narrowing Green River rushes over all kinds of submerged rocks and crevices, creating some world-class rapids.
The technical class 3-4 rapids in the canyon include the aptly named “Hell’s Half-Mile,” and “Disaster Falls.” But don’t worry, with Holiday’s guides at the helm, your boats will not feel hellish, nor will they face disaster. It will just be, as Robert Southey would say, a “Writhing and ringing, Eddying and whisking, Spouting and frisking” good time!
Ecological Transition Zone
Due to the unique geography of this part of the Green (right where the Uinta mountains meet the Colorado Plateau), you get to float through some incredible ecosystem diversity that really can’t be seen anywhere else. It’s what we call an “Ecological Transition Zone.”
As you float from low-alpine to high-desert terrain, you will notice the temperature change, but also the flora and fauna. You move from pines to junipers, and from moose to pronghorn. As the river continues south, you end up at its confluence with the Yampa in Dinosaur National Monument.
It’s the Back-Door to Dinosaur
Thankfully, Dinosaur National Monument was saved the axe in President Trump’s recent crusade to reduce national monuments like Bears Ears. Perhaps it’s because the monument has less opportunities for oil and gas development. Or, maybe they just forgot about the monument like so many others seem to.
Dinosaur is one of the lesser known geological attractions of the Colorado Plateau. Although we appreciate this fact (more solitude for us!), it makes no sense. Dinosaur has red rock canyons to rival canyonlands. It has eagles, antelope, coyotes, and every other charismatic high-desert fauna you could want. And, of course, it has dinosaurs!
Floating down Lodore takes you right into the monument. When you come through this way you don’t have to worry about traffic or finding a camping site!
Incredible Cultural Sites
After you have floated through Lodore and some other mind-blowing sections of the river like Echo Park and Whirlpool Canyon, you get to a very special place. Here, you can get off the boat and go to check out pictographs and petroglyphs left by people from the Fremont Culture.
Looking at this art from another time, from before the rivers were dammed and polluted, from before people needed ‘national monuments’ to protect their land, we can contemplate where we are at today. What does our own culture worship and elevate? How do we pay homage to what came before, and protect what is left for future generations?
Easton Smith is a Local Wasatch Front resident and writer. He spends his time community organizing, rock-climbing, and playin’ some mean banjo. For more writing from Easton, check out his organizing collective’s blog “Brine Waves” here or stay tuned for future loggings in River Currents.