John Wesley Powell 150th Celebration Trip
About This Trip
Carved into the memory of every river runner on the Colorado Plateau is the all-too-true legend of John Wesley Powell and his voyages down through the Green and Colorado River system. It is one of the most notable journeys of the 19th century and this 2019 river season marks the 150th year since his fateful crew shoved off shore.
Holiday is choosing to commemorate such a momentous occasion with our own twist on JWP’s epic adventure. Join our expert guides and top-notch river historians for a 18 day exploration of the greatest canyons in North America.
We will begin with the seminal “Gates of Lodore” Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument. After 4 days with some of Powell’s most notorious whitewater runs, we will regroup and continue the journey into the playful rapids of Desolation Canyon. With a re-supply in Green River our crew will dive into Labyrinth Canyon’s placid twists and turns. With one final leg to go, we will part ways with our last glimpse of a boat ramp at Mineral Bottom and continue into Stillwater Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, and the confluence of the mighty Green and Colorado Rivers at the head of Cataract Canyon - arguably some of the most compelling whitewater on the continent.
All told, this 308 mile journey is a lengthy trip... but nowhere near as long and arduous as the original voyages were! Even still, for your convenience you can book into this trip in its entirety or any one or more sub-sections of this 4 part voyage. These kind of extended voyages simply aren't done very often in the 21st century, so it's our honor, for this season only, to offer you a time-portal back to a slower and more adventurous time on the Colorado River System!
Renownd Powell Historians and River Naturalists include:
Gates of Lodore: Roy Webb
Desolation Canyon: Dennis Willis
Labyrinth, Stillwater & Cataract Canyon: John Weisheit
To Book this trip Call our Office! (800) 624-6323
Location: Green & Colorado River
Length: 18 Days
Dates: July 5-22nd
Meet At: Vernal, UT 7:00 AM
Rating: Intermediate, Advanced
Age Min: 8
- Unforgettable voyage on a scale rarely done in this day and age!
- Everything from serene flat-water to thunderous whitewater
- Expert river historians along for each leg of the journey!
- Much better food and drink than Powell's expedition.
Trip Price & Departure Dates
18-Day Full Trip Flat Rate - $3,850
*Plus $62 Land Use Fee
1st Leg: 4-day Gates of Lodore
Adult - $1,005
Youth, Senior, Group - $885
*Plus $27 Monument Fee
2nd Leg: 5-day Desolation Canyon
Senior, Group - $1085
3rd Leg: 5-day Labyrinth Canyon
Flat Rate - $950
4th leg: 5-day Cataract Canyon
Youth, Senior, Group- $1040
This 308 Mile expedition takes a good bite out of Powell's original journey. Staring in Browns Park up near the Wyoming Border and ending in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near the Arizona Border, this 18 day trip spans the entire state of Utah!
One of the advantages of a river trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. It can vary widely from one trip to the next based on group desires, Mother Nature, and courtesy for other groups on the river. This typical itinerary illustrates a five-day trip through Desolation and Gray canyons. In August, we lengthen the Desolation Canyon trip by one day and follow this general itinerary.
Days 1-2: Lodore Canyon The great voyage will begin at our Headquarters in Vernal Utah where you will meet your crew, be issued waterproof bags and saddle up for our 3 hour van ride to the put-in in Brown’s Park National Wildlife Refuge, like most other commonly used names along the river, was named by Powell's expedition a century and a half ago. We will make one rest stop in Maybell, CO to stretch our legs, before getting back on the road. Right off the bat we will navigate some of Powell’s more infamous rapids: Disaster Falls & Hell's Half Mile.
Day 3: Echo Park & Whirlpool Canyon Spend some time relaxing on serene flat water as we meet the confluence of the Yampa River in Echo Park, named for its incredible acoustics and scenery. Once around Steamboat Rock we will face Whirlpool Canyon - aptly named (by Powell of course.) for its swirling unpredictable currents. We will camp near or at Jones Hole, a site where Powell’s 1st voyage happily gorged themselves on the plentiful fish found in the side-creek; this makes for a great fishing hole along the adventure!
Day 4:Island Park and Split Mountain Gorge This last day in Dinosaur National Monument carries us into what Powell described as a place where the river stretched out shallow and as wide as the Missouri River and snaked through a series of islands. Then end the days ride with a bang, navigating dozens of rewarding rapids through the awe-inducing Split Mountain. We will hit Split Mountain ramp mid-day and with full bellies shortly after lunch. The crew will pack up the boats and the voyage will continue the next morning once everyone makes it safely to our main Headquarters a 3 hours drive away in Green River Utah.
Days 5-7: Desolation Canyon After spending a night at one of Green River’s comfortable hotels & getting a warm shower in, reunite with Holiday at our headquarters & join us for a breathtaking 30 minute scenic flight from Green River to the embarkation point for Desolation Canyon at Sand Wash. Much like Powell and his many ‘side-excursions’ spent mapping and measuring the canyon, we will stretch our legs and hike 1.5 miles down to the put-in from the plateau overlooking the greater Tavaputs region and meet our guides riverside. Once on the water, we will float our way into the deep chasm that is Desolation Canyon. Encountering dozens of rapids these first few days, and many iconic Powell sights, such as ‘Lighthouse Rock’.
Days 8-9: Gray Canyon & JWP Museum As the cliffs colors shift dramatically, it is easy to see why Powell named Gray Canyon. Even more eccentric rock towers lead you to sporty rapids like Wire Fence, Three Fords & Coal Creek; mystical ‘Seeps’ in the rock layer bringing verdant life to the canyon walls. Iconic Gunnison Butte welcomes you into the outskirts of one of Powell’s most notable supply stops, Green River. In that proud tradition, Holiday will spend the evening freshening our coolers while your crew can dig further into Powell’s story at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. Spend the evening with one more hot shower on the banks of the Green in River Terrace Inn.
Day 10-13: Labyrinth Canyon Resupplied and ready to go, we will leave Green River behind us and slowly wrap through a rarely visited section of the green river, and the upper stretches of Labyrinth canyon. Slowly the canyon will rise up from the earth and close in around you transporting you from alien flat-lands of the upper section to breathtaking red-canyon walls with exquisite side stops like Trin Alcove, 10 mile Canyon and Bowknot Bend. Around lunchtime on the 13th, we will encounter Mineral Bottom and folks last chance to make a run for town, from here on out our fates belong to the rapids of Cataract to come.
Day 14-15: Stillwater Canyon Spend tranquil days enjoying the continued flat water and secret tiered grottoes of Stillwater Canyon. Wander around the same abandoned meander Powell had & discover for yourself the incredible signs of Ancestral Puebloan peoples. Dive into a side canyon and loose yourself in native plant species, that blot across the landscape, holding the desert together. Rediscover this amazing place with new eyes. Eat much better fare than Powell's expedition along vast sandbar beaches.
Days 16-17: Cataract Canyon Enter the heart of Canyonlands National Park at the confluence of the Green and mighty Colorado Rivers. This auspicious place marks the beginning of Cataract Canyon. A few short miles of flat water downstream and an ominous thunder can be heard downstream; Powell’s Cataracts are soon to come! Thirty plus rapids quickly wake you up from a week of flat water. With full chapters written about them, these massive wave-trains and churning holes are an epic crescendo for this extended excursion.
Day 18: Narrow & Glen Canyons After your harrowing rapid run, spend a day decompressing through Narrow Canyon, aptly named for the incredibly straight and austere walls hugging the river below. Aided by motorboat “Seldom Seen” during higher lake levels, you’ll finish the trip at Hite Take-out. A two-hour drive bringing you back to Green River. Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
As mentioned earlier, this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the trip you will experience. It is intended to give an idea of what the trip will be like. It could also be exactly what you do. Keep an open mind, be flexible, go with the flow, and enjoy!