CO Plateau backpacking suggestions for spring run-off season

fossana

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A friend is heading down from WA next week, and we had planned to do a backpacking trip (something like Allen's Dirty Devil south or Stephens/Fold, which I wouldn't mind repeating). I've been watching the river flow rates spike for the Escalante and Dirty Devil, with more rain/snow expected in the next few days. He has already done Dark Canyon from Woodenshoe to Sundance, I've done Sheiks to Bullet, Fish/Owl, and both of us have done Boulder Mail Trail to Death Hollow and the Zion Traverse. We're thinking about doing a Grand Gulch point-to-point instead (realize some overlap with my prior trip). Any other routes (up to ~60 miles) we should consider that would be reasonable from a last minute permit and high water perspective? thanks
 
What about a crossing of Canyonlands (Needles and the Maze) with a jet boat shuttle across at Spanish Bottom? Wouldn't be too hard to arrange, since you could predict with good accuracy when you'd arrive.

I've heard talk that it's also possible to connect Slickhorn and Grand Gulch along the San Juan - although not sure if that's at river level or up on the layers. If so, starting at Slickhorn 1 and going up the Government trail would be rad.

Or possibly across the Grand Staircase, over the Kaiparowitz and Yellow Rocks to the Paria. Just depends how much planning you've got time for. Lots of fun possibilities!
 
Thanks @LarryBoy. We only have 5ish days max, hence the 60 miles. Also, not as interested in areas where there's 2-track with ATV/Jeep access.
 
Grand Gulch, especially lower part can be a real slog with any continuous water. I have always enjoyed the Point Lookout down to the level above the San Juan and then up Slickhorn. Not sure how long that is though. I have always wanted to do a traverse of Cedar Mesa, from Johns into Slickhorn back out then up Grand Gulch to the ranger station. That would be a long one.
 
Grand Gulch, especially lower part can be a real slog with any continuous water. I have always enjoyed the Point Lookout down to the level above the San Juan and then up Slickhorn. Not sure how long that is though. I have always wanted to do a traverse of Cedar Mesa, from Johns into Slickhorn back out then up Grand Gulch to the ranger station. That would be a long one.

Lower as in between the San Juan and Collins, or higher up?
 
Lower as in between the San Juan and Collins, or higher up?

Yes, below Collins. If there has been any rain you will be in and out of water a lot.
It's beautiful though.
 
Escalate flow rate is looking better, but the weather now looks unstable. We're leaning toward Cedar Mesa now; will make the call on Monday. Thanks for the suggestions.
 
Allen's DD South is such a hardcore loop, I wouldn't imagine very many people have done the entire route, would love to see a trip report!
 
Escalate flow rate is looking better, but the weather now looks unstable. We're leaning toward Cedar Mesa now; will make the call on Monday. Thanks for the suggestions.

Have fun wherever you go. There will be some nice pools this year.
Greg
 
Allen's DD South is such a hardcore loop, I wouldn't imagine very many people have done the entire route, would love to see a trip report!
We weren't planning to do full thing (i.e. skipping the N Fork of Robbers Roost Canyon).
 
Allen's DD South is such a hardcore loop, I wouldn't imagine very many people have done the entire route, would love to see a trip report!
I’ve done pretty much the whole thing split in two trips and one of them was one of the more gnarly trips I’ve done, though mostly just due to some haphazard planning. It was our first trip with packrafts about 7 years ago...started on the Big Ridge, down Happy first day to above the narrows, boated down the DD the next day to Hatch, then on the third day hiked out Hatch. I vastly underestimated the Hatch mileage (also the Happy mileage but not nearly as much) which was made worse by leaving several extra miles of road walking at the top. I had dropped a bike as a shuttle and the road was pretty rough and we wanted to get started so I just cut the shuttle short and figured we’d walk it. We made it out of Hatch at dusk and I left my wife at the top and ran to get the bike and truck and came back for her. Ended up being ~36 mile hiking/8ish biking day. I actually feel like I’ve had some much more physically demanding days but it might just be I was focused on feeling so bad for putting my poor wife through that and thinking she might never join me again haha.

The other trip was starting at Rock Canyon, up over the block, drop down into FC and boat down to Hite. Great country out there. I do feel like some of the best stuff is side stuff off of the main Allen loop and it might be best split.
 
Oops, typo on my part. It was the N route we considered. Flow rate and weather aren't accommodating.
 
I have a slide show and gps track of lower Grand gulch from shangrila to water canyon.... In the resources section here on BCP
 
Thanks @Bob. We had to cancel our trip since there's a front coming through. The weather looks unstable for pretty much the entire CO plateau into next week. Guess I get to stress about upcoming product launches for work and stare at topo maps instead.
 
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