Lodore Canyon – July 2009

July 15-18, 2009

 The water level for Lodore Canyon was the best I have experienced in several years.  It was running at about 2200 cfs during the day, and dropping to 1500 cfs at night.  Below the confluence with the Yampa, the river was running at about 3400 cfs.


Gardiner: Dee, Kim, Kevin, Jamie, and Jason.

Lloyd: Barry, Karla, and Hannah.

The Gates of Lodore



14’ Maravia: Dee & Kim.

16’ Sotar: Kevin & Jason.

16’ Sotar: Barry & Karla.

Ducky: Jamie & Hannah.

Barry and Karla after a very long day


Excellent!  Hot and sunny during the day, cool and clear at night.  Perfect temperatures both on and off the river.  Only occasional afternoon wind, but nothing too bad.


2 hours 45 minutes from Salt Lake to Rock Springs non-stop at 75 mph most of the way.  Another 1 hour 45 minutes to the put-in.  The road from Rock Springs to the Colorado border is paved.  It is dirt beyond that, but a nice road.

Shuttle by “River Runner’s Transport” out of Vernal.

We stayed in Rock Springs and drove to the put-in in the morning.  Barry drove the whole way that morning, leaving home about 5:00 AM.  We arrived at the put-in about 9:45 AM and launched at about noon.  An alternate strategy would be to camp at the free public campground in Irish Canyon.  It is about 20 miles from the put-in I would guess.  The campground has tables and a pit toilet, but no water.  It should be cooler and quieter than the put-in campground.

The drive home is about 3.5 hours not counting stops for dinner and gas.


  1. Kolb.  This is an excellent camp.  It doesn’t look like much when you pull in, but it has great tent sites, a nice kitchen area, and a great hooter spot.  It has both afternoon and morning shade.
  1. Rippling Brook #1.  This site was not quite as good as expected, but not bad.  The tent sites aren’t quite flat.  There is a nice, but steep hike to a wonderful waterfall shower.  There is also a wonderful view of the canyon from the trail.  There were a fair number of bugs and snakes in this camp.
  1. Jones Hole #3.  This camp has a great kitchen area and nice tent sites.  It has plenty of shade, but the vegetation is so thick there isn’t much of a breeze.  There is also a cute skunk that frequents the camps.  The water in Ely Creek was flowing well, so the pressure washer showers at “Butt-Plug Falls” were intense.


  • Winnie’s Rapid was rather easy.  At this flow it is easy to stay to the right of the center rock.  We stopped and walked up to the grotto.  There is one tight squeeze through a fallen boulder, but otherwise it is an easy hike.

Hannah & Jamie avoiding Winnie’s Rock

  • Upper Disaster Falls was fairly easy.  Most of the rocks were covered, so there are more options than at lower flows.  You still need to make a few maneuvers to miss them all.  The waves near the bottom were of good size, breaking over the bow of the boat.  The tongue at the top was misleading due to submerged rocks.  It was easy to miss the main tongue and take a narrower slot to the left.

Kevin & Jason in Upper Disaster Falls

  • Lower Disaster was really easy – as long as you stay left of the island and away from the undercut cliff.
  • Triplet Falls was also easy.  There were good waves in the first section, the middle was easy, and then you have to dodge rocks in the final section.

Dee & Kim in Triplet Falls

  • Hell’s Half Mile was intense.  The water was flowing over Lucifer’s Rock.  Most of the flow was going right of the rock, but it was very difficult to get a raft there.  The tongue was tricky, so it was hard to hit it clean.

Barry going over Lucifer’s Rock

The standard run is to enter on the right side of the tongue, and then pull hard right immediately after passing the submerged rock on the edge of the tongue.  If you get over far enough, you can then ride the S-turn slot that changes your momentum to the left.  The S-turn slot is just right of Kevin.  He didn’t quite make it over, but he was able to go right of Lucifer’s Rock.  Barry also came up short and ended up going right over the top of the rock sideways for a scary ride.  Jamie & Hannah made the slot perfectly in the Ducky and were able to go left of Lucifer’s Rock.

Jason enjoying Hell’s Half Mile, with Kevin at the oars

Dee changed strategies after watching Kevin and Barry attempt at going right.  He decided to punch through the hole just left of where Kevin hit it.  He was in a smaller 14’ boat and feared flipping in the hole, but there was a nice slot in the middle that allowed him to easily break through.  This put him in the calmer water and then easily went left of Lucifer’s Rock.

  • The rapids in Whirlpool Canyon were not very big.  They were all easy and some were kind of fun, but nothing special.
  • Moonshine and Schoolboy had fairly nice waves.  SOB required some maneuvering, but not too bad.

It was a wonderful trip this year.  The past 3 or 4 trips down Lodore Canyon were discouraging because the water was so low.  There were essentially no fun waves but many, many rocks to avoid.  At this higher flow, it was quite fun.  It was still fairly technical, but not unbearable.  The weather was perfect and the food and company was excellent.

About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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