Kayaking the Chute of Muddy Creek


May 3, 2013
I've been lucky to catch Muddy Creek in the San Rafael Swell with just enough flow to paddle down it 4 times, back in 2005 it ran for a few weeks, some years it may be boatable for a day or 2 if at all. The photos are from a few trips in 2005 and 2009. The season to catch the Muddy is right around the corner, late May/early June if you're lucky, depending on the snowpack and temps.
I've only run the Chute section, I'd like to put-in at Lone Tree Crossing and run it down to Hidden Splendor Mine some day for an overnighter. Tough to catch this gem, I like 300cfs minimum on the Emery gauge. 250 is still fun, 200 is boat abuse. Lots of water is taken out for irrigation upstream. Great camping at Cowboy Camp near Tomsich Butte, and the shuttle isn't too bad. A bike shuttle would work here.
Those annoying biting flies can be a major annoyance, there is a decent campsite up higher before the switchbacks down to the river that seems to avoid the little bastards.


Kayaks in the desert? Hondu Arch in the distance.


Cowboy Camp at Tomsich Butte, the put-in.



Pretty cool to see this from a kayak...what a treat.



Starting to get really good...


High water mark from the previous days flash flood. A group got caught in here, they made it out but one canoe did not.


Log jam



Out of the Chute


Mouth of Chimney Canyon


It took weeks to get the poop soup remnants off my boat

This is more of a ducky or Alpacka run, hardshells are fine but more room for beer is recommended. Camping is possible, Chimney Canyon being the best option. If you can catch it, hang out for a few days and run it as many times as you can. Its a long day though, be prepared for everything. My first run we had some close calls with hypothermia. It may be 100 degrees at the put-in, but one swim in the Chute could make a good day go horribly wrong.

Another great float trip is the Little Grand Canyon of the San Rafael River. Scenic cruising and great camping.

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Mike K

Jul 6, 2012
Looks like a ton of fun. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing. Think it'll ever get high enough this year to run in a packraft? It's looking like it might trend like it did last year. =(


May 3, 2013
I'm not sure, check the Snotel for the southern Wasatch and keep an eye on the temps in a few weeks. I recall it was always a wait and see and be ready at the last minute to rush over and hope to catch it. Always seemed to be last week of May, first week of June for the years I got in there. Hope you can get on it, a packraft would be sweet.


Aug 9, 2007
This looks like such a fun float! Some recent trips have sold me on picking up a kayak and doing some backpack style trips with it, this trip report only convinces me further. Thanks for posting!


May 3, 2013
It really is a treat to be able to float a desert canyon like this. I would recommend the Alpacka packrafts for desert float trips, especially overnighters. I'm a hardshell whitewater boater here in the southeast, but hope to invest in a packraft soon so I can tick off my bucket list Escalante River float from Hwy 12 to Coyote Gulch, hiking out at Crack in the Wall. The Black Boxes have been run and I'd love to get in there one day too, but the Lower is more class IV with class V hazards when its really cranking from what I've heard. Sounds awesome :)
My dream spring vacation...floating the Escalante River, Dirty Devil, the Chute and then Little Grand Canyon of the San Rafael.
Just need a huge snowpack and a month off work. Its nice to dream...

Mike K

Jul 6, 2012
Nice. I tried to get some friends to float the the Dirty Devil earlier this year. But I couldn't talk them into it. Lame! We floated the Escalante last year (Fence to Coyote) and it was great! I'll have to look into the Little Grand Canyon, too.

I'll keep my eye on the Chute over the next several weeks and see if it happens or not. Looks like a blast!


New Member
Aug 5, 2012
Tried doing this once way back in the college days and missed the water. We had boats and nowhere to go...still had a great trip, but I've wanted to try again ever since. Thanks for the pics and report. ...I'm inspired. :)
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