Dark Canyon/Gypsum Canyon/Cataract Canyon Loop

Gregg B.

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
16
Hey All,
We are looking to do Dark Canyon up and over to Gypsum Canyon. Then down to Cataract and packraft back to Dark. We have almost two weeks to explore so time is good. I'm a newbie packrafter but not to canyon country. That said I'm hoping for a non-technical route (4th class or 5.0ish at most, we will have 50' of 8mm but that's it). My wife and my dog will be with me. I have a few route questions:
1. What is the river like from Gypsum down to Dark Canyon? Rapids?
2. Can we get down to the river from Gypsum and back up Dark with the river being so low?
3. What is the "Powell Route" in Gypsum?
4. I've been hearing about "Allen's Book" does anyone have a link to it?

We did The Maze last year and are looking for another adventure.
Thanks in advance! I'll post a report when we get back in April.
Gregg

17362705_10211834260319526_1009007773659513129_n.jpg
 

Nick

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Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,918
x2 on wind. I packrafted from Dark down to Hite and it we got hit with 50mph winds. Tumbleweed patches the size of cars flying 50 feet in the air over our heads. 2-3 foot waves pushing us back up canyon. Insane stuff. Do a search over on Mountain Buzz and you can find the most current info on rapids. I believe it is all still flat water though.
 

Gregg B.

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
16
I
x2 on wind. I packrafted from Dark down to Hite and it we got hit with 50mph winds. Tumbleweed patches the size of cars flying 50 feet in the air over our heads. 2-3 foot waves pushing us back up canyon. Insane stuff. Do a search over on Mountain Buzz and you can find the most current info on rapids. I believe it is all still flat water though.
I've read about the wind. We may float at night when it dies down (if we get it). I'll check out Mountain Buzz! Thanks.
 

Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,918

Kullaberg63

Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2014
Messages
543
Our Dark to Bowdie loop took 5 days, but we did a time consuming section known as Allen's Crawl.

You can start your trip from 3 spots: the Fable Valley TH in Beef Basin (4WD), the Fable TH on North Long Point (high clearance), or by heading down the Sundance Trail. The latter adds miles and starts the trip down steep gnar with a heavy pack.

Exiting Dark to the east is best done via Lean To Canyon. There's an excellent spring 3-4 hrs up. At the head you will have to do some road walking. The Hayduke 'Trail' goes thru here and might utilize a shortcut into Fable Valley. Otherwise it's a long slog on the road up to the proper Fable Valley TH.

Going thru Fable is easy, with ruins, one of which is rather large, and a good spring. But it's weedy and prickly. The other end is the Beef Basin TH. From here the Gypsum fun starts. I know of at least one BCP member who's descended it, but I forgot his name. I've heard it's a big remote canyon with numerous huge falls requiring long detours. Bowdie, which we did, is supposedly a little technically harder, but not so huge. And it was a full 6 hours+ to get from the middle confluence to the river.

The paddle stretch is flat water. It's a deep canyon down here and there's lots to look at. The up canyon wind is a pain, but it does not blow 24-7. Mornings are best.

This is one of the grand loops on the Plateau. It's wild and remote and not to be underestimated. Lean To has a section of fierce bushwhacking. Bowdie and Gypsum are rugged, slow going canyons that demand respect. Dark Canyon Plateau is vast, dry and hard to get to. Outside of hunting season few folks drive out there.
 

Gregg B.

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
16
Our Dark to Bowdie loop took 5 days, but we did a time consuming section known as Allen's Crawl.

You can start your trip from 3 spots: the Fable Valley TH in Beef Basin (4WD), the Fable TH on North Long Point (high clearance), or by heading down the Sundance Trail. The latter adds miles and starts the trip down steep gnar with a heavy pack.

Exiting Dark to the east is best done via Lean To Canyon. There's an excellent spring 3-4 hrs up. At the head you will have to do some road walking. The Hayduke 'Trail' goes thru here and might utilize a shortcut into Fable Valley. Otherwise it's a long slog on the road up to the proper Fable Valley TH.

Going thru Fable is easy, with ruins, one of which is rather large, and a good spring. But it's weedy and prickly. The other end is the Beef Basin TH. From here the Gypsum fun starts. I know of at least one BCP member who's descended it, but I forgot his name. I've heard it's a big remote canyon with numerous huge falls requiring long detours. Bowdie, which we did, is supposedly a little technically harder, but not so huge. And it was a full 6 hours+ to get from the middle confluence to the river.

The paddle stretch is flat water. It's a deep canyon down here and there's lots to look at. The up canyon wind is a pain, but it does not blow 24-7. Mornings are best.

This is one of the grand loops on the Plateau. It's wild and remote and not to be underestimated. Lean To has a section of fierce bushwhacking. Bowdie and Gypsum are rugged, slow going canyons that demand respect. Dark Canyon Plateau is vast, dry and hard to get to. Outside of hunting season few folks drive out there.
Awesome! Thanks for the intel. It does appear that Gypsum is rarely travelled. I did find the story however. It seems Gypsum is "scrappy".
 

Brendan S

Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2016
Messages
382
Sounds like everyone has you covered. I’ve done gypsum/bowdie and didn’t have any wind on the float but I was insane and did it in July so I might have lucked out. IIRC the Powell route exits Gypsum to the north pretty close to the river so probably won’t help you much except as a bail route if needed.
 

Gregg B.

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
16
Tha
Sounds like everyone has you covered. I’ve done gypsum/bowdie and didn’t have any wind on the float but I was insane and did it in July so I might have lucked out. IIRC the Powell route exits Gypsum to the north pretty close to the river so probably won’t help you much except as a bail route if needed.
Thanks @Brendan S. I'm beyond pumped now.
 

Gregg B.

Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
16
H
Sounds like everyone has you covered. I’ve done gypsum/bowdie and didn’t have any wind on the float but I was insane and did it in July so I might have lucked out. IIRC the Powell route exits Gypsum to the north pretty close to the river so probably won’t help you much except as a bail route if needed.
Hey @Brendan S I was thinking last night that any info you may have on Gypsum would be awesome. How was the approach, decent, route etc? Any 5th class stuff? Okay for my dog? Thanks!!!!!!
 

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,589
H

Hey @Brendan S I was thinking last night that any info you may have on Gypsum would be awesome. How was the approach, decent, route etc? Any 5th class stuff? Okay for my dog? Thanks!!!!!!
Gypsum has a angle of repose Sand Hill to go down. Some ledge stuff. Bowdie has a couple steep pitches ...don't know if you can go around. A few ledge hooping up and down.
 
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