Photo Journal: Lodore from the Eyes of a Guide

by Justin Malloy

As a guide, when someone asks me what my favorite river trip is, I usually tell them that that decision is a lot like choosing my favorite band. I have a handful of names to list but I go through phases of who I want to put in that number one spot. It really depends on my mood, the season, and what I’m looking for in the music at the time. I’ve heard stories that Dee’s answer to the same question was that it was as hard to choose his favorite river trip as it was to choose his favorite daughter: he loved them all equally.

With all of that said, I can’t declare that the Gates of Lodore is my favorite trip. Instead, I’ll say that Lodore is a lot like Fleetwood Mac’s classic album, Rumours. No matter how many times I hear it, the songs never get old, and more than a few are among the greatest of all-time.

The following photos were captured by Chris Whitaker on a trip down Lodore in 2022.

Day 1

Lodore Canyon is especially unique in how dramatic its entrance is, and you can see the “Gates” for the half hour of your van ride to the put-in.

Around one river mile after pushing off, the steep maroon canyon walls rise above to envelope you.

Rowing near the canyon wall

It’s hard to find a more beautiful place for lunch!

Chicken Ceasar Salad

The boating on the first day is a delicate dance around rocks and through splashy waves.

The first technical challenge comes at Disaster Falls, which we scout on every trip down Lodore to discuss our route.

Jac teaching younger guide at the scout

Finesse boating skills are require here, a fun challenge as compared to other styles.

Jack in Triplet Falls

The rapids never fail to thrill everyone, guides and guests alike.

Boat of laughing folks

Guest having a laugh

Seriously- how can a canyon be this majestic???

Upstream from Rippling Brook #1

Scenic Lodore

There is great fishing from camp and I love watching anglers analyze, strategize, and pass the time casting their lines.

Fishing in Lodore

Day 2

Downstream, contrasting rock layers of limestone and sandstone emerge to offer even more majesty to the scenery.

Guide Luke Rogers rows Lodore

There are so many opportunities to splash the most adventurous of our thrill-seeking guests…

Kids lean in for the waves

…As well as calm stretches for the more mellow of folks to get out of the boat and float in their lifejackets!

Cheers from the river!

Floating in lifejackets

The second camp on this stretch is frequently one of the two camps at Rippling Brook. Both camps have large sandy beaches…

Rippling Brook #1

Rippling Brook #1

…as well as access to one of the coolest hikes in the whole park…

View upstream from Rippling Brook hike

…to the Rippling Brook Waterfall!

Rippling Brook waterfall

Guest under the Rippling Brook waterfall

Scenic kitchens? Check.

Jac cooks fajita veggies

Bocce ball courts? Check.

Kids play bocce

Great places to ducky, even from camp? Check.

Duckying

Day 3

If you look closely while floating downstream, there’s a good chance you’ll spot some bighorn sheep traversing the narrow ledges of the canyon walls.

Also, there’s a 100% chance you will spot some breathtaking geologic formations, like the Mitten Park Fault, pictured here at the end of Lodore Canyon.

Mitten Park Fault

After exiting Lodore and floating around Echo Park…

Echo Park

…the Green River shepherds you into another amazing canyon of deep maroon walls, this one called Whirpool Canyon…

Whirpool Canyon

…where more majesty is lying in wait to be discovered…

Lunch at the dam site

…Like the oasis that is Jones Hole Creek!

Jones Hole jacuzzi

Cooling off in Jone Hole Creek

Jones Hole is a 5 mile hike with many fun pitstops to make and cool off.

Jones Hole trail

Inevitably, the experience of floating through a canyon like this will bring out the child in all of us!

Catapult!

Catapulting!

I can’t think of a better way to spend some quality family time.

Family photo

Syd and the Shoells

The campsites in Whirpool Canyon are no less fantastic than those above in Lodore.

Compromise from above

They even have great bocce courts, too!

Bocce at Compromise

Day 4

As a guide on the last morning, it’s a meaningful practice to share a reading from a hero of every river rat, Buzz Holmstrom, who was the first person to navigate the Green River solo from Wyoming all the way through the Grand Canyon.

Jack doing a reading on the boats

More geologic wonders await us downstream, like the Split Mountain Fault, pictured here.

Split Mountain fault

Looking upstream from Island Park

As beautiful as these photos are, it’s impossible to capture the absolute, all-time, unfathomable, sheer awesome-ness that is Lodore Canyon with a camera. As we like to say at Holiday, “You Gotta Go To Know”!!!

Guide Jac pushes through Hells Half Mile