by Julie Trevelyan
The Green River through the Gates of Lodore
The Gates of Lodore are an impressive example of nature’s architecture. Towering 800 feet above the Green River, the canyon snakes its way through the Uinta Mountains of Colorado and Utah. This is a wonderful river rafting vacation to take for many reasons: diversity of wildlife, presence of exciting white water rapids, gorgeous canyonland scenery, enjoyable hikes, and a wealth of intriguing history that lends your experience more depth, leaving you with the satisfaction of having really understood Lodore Canyon during your rafting adventure. For those who want a chance to play on the river in an inflatable kayak, that opportunity arises through the more placid Echo Park section, allowing you to catch your breath and gaze at the simply stunning beauty of the canyon around you.
The Green River through Lodore Canyon has an average water flow of 800-2,000 CFS (cubic feet per second). As usual, the late spring months (May and June) serve up the highest flows because of all that melting snow. River rafting through Lodore can be a lively ride, since the canyon’s structure means the water flow gets bouncy, jouncy, and just plain fun. Backed up by the Flaming Gorge Dam, flows are regulated.
Jones Hole Creek is a great little area where you might spend part of a day exploring, strolling around, swimming, or even casting a line to do some fishing. Ancient petroglyphs dot the area, inviting speculation as to lives of the long-ago Indian inhabitants who left their sometimes cryptic figures and depictions in the rock walls. A waterfall also splashes down here and makes for a great photo spot.
Major John Wesley Powell and his merry band of intrepid explorers were the first people known to raft through Lodore Canyon during an 1869 expedition. Powell’s first impression of the canyon was mixed: “When I came down at noon, the sun shone in splendor on its vermilion walls shaded into green and gray when the rocks are lichened over. The river fills the channel from wall to wall. The canyon opened like a beautiful portal to a region of glory. Now, as I write, the sun is going down and the shadows are setting in the canyon. The vermilion gleams and rosy hues, the green and gray tints are changing to sombre brown above, and black shadows below. Now ’tis a black portal to a region of gloom. And that is the gateway through which we enter our voyage of exploration tomorrow—and what shall we find?” After he and his men gathered their courage, Powell ultimately discovered a great rafting trip! We can thank him today for being the first to tell the world about this beautiful canyon with its breathtaking whitewater runs.
Who will enjoy this trip most:
The Class IV whitewater rapids appeal to those with an adventurous spirit. You’ll descend 13 feet per mile rafted along the 44-mile river trip. Families love this canyon for the thrills as well as the plentiful white sand beaches that invite frolic as well as relaxation. Lodore Canyon rafting is also great for anyone who wants to drink in the views of the huge, beautiful canyon. Box elder trees nod along the beaches, and you can spy tall lodgepole pines up on the canyon rim. If you’re a wildlife spotter, this is the trip for you: mule deer, beaver, desert bighorn sheep, and more call the canyon home, and they are often seen during a rafting trip. A regular stop at Jone’s Hole where you’ll find a blue ribbon trout stream is a call to the fly fishing crowd.
1. The name comes from an 1820 poem, “Cataract of Lodore,” about Lodore Falls in Cumbria, England. Powell’s exploration party named it.
2. Lodore Canyon has been an official American treasure since 1938 as part of the National Park system.
3. Creative names for the rapids include Upper and Lower Disaster, Hell’s Half Mile, and S.O.B.
Written by Julie Trevelyan.
Julie is a freelance writer and wilderness guide in southern Utah. She especially enjoys books, coffee, yoga, wild country, horses, and dark chocolate.
See more of her work at www.wildgirlwriting.com