Desolation Canyon, Utah... Any info?

seekinglost

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There is a lot of info on rafting the Green River through Desolation Canyon, but almost nothing on hiking through Desolation Canyon. I could only find this:

https://www.mysteryranch.com/post/8...-backpack-and-some-of-utahs-finest-wilderness

He refers to a guidebook he used to identify problem areas along his route, but never mentions the name of the guidebook. Anyone know book what this might be? Any other info or resources out there for hiking Desolation Canyon?
 

regehr

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No idea about the book, and didn't even know it was possible to hike this route. Seems like a small packraft would be a better choice than that tube!
 

regehr

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Hmmf.... the breezy description in the TR seems to indicate that the book was easily available in 2008. I just scanned a half-dozen guidebooks meeting that description and came up empty.
 

Nick

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I know you'd have to stay on river right for most of it because of the restrictions on the Ute reservation on river left. Having rafted it, it seems to me like there could be some extraordinary ups, downs and arounds to make that work.
 

SteveR

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I thought that sounded familiar, went downstairs to my "archive" of older books and maps, and sure enough, it's in a very dog-eared copy of Kelsey's 5th edition of the Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau, which I assume is way out of print. Not found in the 6th edition, which is the latest that I have. I could copy and send the 4 relevant pages later today. Is that ethical?
 

regehr

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I thought that sounded familiar, went downstairs to my "archive" of older books and maps, and sure enough, it's in a very dog-eared copy of Kelsey's 5th edition of the Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau, which I assume is way out of print. Not found in the 6th edition, which is the latest that I have.

Aha, nice, I had looked in the 6th or 7th or whichever edition I have.
 

seekinglost

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No idea about the book, and didn't even know it was possible to hike this route. Seems like a small packraft would be a better choice than that tube!

Packraft would be the way to go, no way I'd jump in the Green on a tube! I'd like to identify the problem areas and look for routes around that don't involve getting in the water.


I know you'd have to stay on river right for most of it because of the restrictions on the Ute reservation on river left. Having rafted it, it seems to me like there could be some extraordinary ups, downs and arounds to make that work.

Yup, it's a bummer about the Ute side being closed. That could have made the whole thing a lot easier, hitching across the river here and there. Definitely some extreme ups and downs... it's about a mile deep at Rock Creek! But with great difficulty comes great rewards. Looks like some incredibly beautiful country that almost nobody hikes.


I thought that sounded familiar, went downstairs to my "archive" of older books and maps, and sure enough, it's in a very dog-eared copy of Kelsey's 5th edition of the Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau, which I assume is way out of print. Not found in the 6th edition, which is the latest that I have. I could copy and send the 4 relevant pages later today. Is that ethical?

I knew this was the right place to ask :) I appreciate the offer, but I will go ahead and order the book. I found a few copies on Amazon. I could use more info on other areas along the Colorado Plateau anyhow. Thanks for identifying it!
 

ZLmtns

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I have the Second Edition of the Kelsey book ,1991, and the route description is in there if you come across a copy of it somewhere. That makes me assume that it is in editions 2 through 5 ,maybe. Yes on river right.
 

Bob

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Packraft would be the way to go, no way I'd jump in the Green on a tube! I'd like to identify the problem areas and look for routes around that don't involve getting in the water.




Yup, it's a bummer about the Ute side being closed. That could have made the whole thing a lot easier, hitching across the river here and there. Definitely some extreme ups and downs... it's about a mile deep at Rock Creek! But with great difficulty comes great rewards. Looks like some incredibly beautiful country that almost nobody hikes.




I knew this was the right place to ask :) I appreciate the offer, but I will go ahead and order the book. I found a few copies on Amazon. I could use more info on other areas along the Colorado Plateau anyhow. Thanks for identifying it!
Come on.... Tubes are fine. We did gypsum canyon to bowdie canyon many years ago... Before packrafts... Used tubes and Kmart vinyl rafts floating in between...
 

Nick

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Most of Deso is super slow, flat water (especially at non-peak flows). You could do a lot of it on an inflatable mattress. What's legal is a whole other story.
 

seekinglost

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Bob and Nick - I'll take your word for it being safe at lower flows, but I am more comfortable on land than water. I will keep it in mind though.

I haven't this particular hike, so I might be full of it, but in general the hiking can suck pretty bad along rivers in canyon country. Lots of thrashing around in riparian veg or steep/loose bypasses above. A loop with a couple side canyons might be more enjoyable.

You are certainly right about a side canyon loop being more enjoyable(leisurely), but this would be a section of a long distance hiking route I am creating. I need to get from point A to point B and this is one of my options.
 
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3d3vart

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He refers to a guidebook he used to identify problem areas along his route, but never mentions the name of the guidebook. Anyone know book what this might be?

Kelsey's Colorado Plateau book has had his Deso through hike since the first edition.
 

LarryBoy

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Just keep in mind that Kelsey's books are about the worst imaginable guidebooks. Descriptions are pithy to the point of being vague, some information is just flat-out wrong, and even by thru-hiker standards, his times are unrealistically fast. Kelsey is a great book to get ideas in, and then do your own research.
 

regehr

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Just keep in mind that Kelsey's books are about the worst imaginable guidebooks. Descriptions are pithy to the point of being vague, some information is just flat-out wrong, and even by thru-hiker standards, his times are unrealistically fast. Kelsey is a great book to get ideas in, and then do your own research.
yeah. instead of "trust but verify" it should be "don't trust but verify"
 

Bob

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Just keep in mind that Kelsey's books are about the worst imaginable guidebooks. Descriptions are pithy to the point of being vague, some information is just flat-out wrong, and even by thru-hiker standards, his times are unrealistically fast. Kelsey is a great book to get ideas in, and then do your own research.
Any guide book is that way.. ideas, then do good research
 

3d3vart

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Just keep in mind that Kelsey's books are about the worst imaginable guidebooks. Descriptions are pithy to the point of being vague, some information is just flat-out wrong, and even by thru-hiker standards, his times are unrealistically fast. Kelsey is a great book to get ideas in, and then do your own research.

Well, I disagree. "Worst imaginable"? Those guidebooks are in their 7th and 8th editions I think, so obviously they're doing something right. Those guidebooks were responsible, for better or worse, for opening up much of the Colorado Plateau and West Desert to a generation of Utahns and others who grew up on them. Did they contains some errors? Sure. Maps are vague? Sure. Fast hiking times? Absolutely. But because of all of that those of us that relied on them in the late 80s and early 90s to discover our backyard Colorado Plateau were both inspired to go see these places while at the same time allowed to learn how to find these places on our own, without the overly detailed step by step instructions, gpx files, and the rest that so many mindlessly rely on these days. Sure, I use modern mapping tools, too, and I love a good gpx file, but I'm glad I, and so many others, learned to explore the canyons without perfect information to each and every petroglyph panel, campsite, etc. as we were able to discover the canyons on our own terms, which I think was one of Kelsey's original goals.
 

SteveR

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True- descriptions and directions are usually vague, and once in a while- misleading. I look at them as more as books of ideas or maybe hints- no handholding- it's up to the user to flesh them out with research. I found that once one has done a bunch of his routes- you learn to filter times and difficulty with your own experience.
 
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