Learning my ABC's on the Green River


Aug 9, 2007
As with anything, there is an order of operations when it comes to learning the ropes of river rafting. In my vast experience of rafting exactly one river, I decided that the second one would be the A, B and C sections of the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam. It's about 30 river miles of mostly class II rapids with one II+ and one solid class III. Numerous designated campsites along the river and no need for a permit made this an easy short notice trip to pull off.

We arrived after dark on Thursday night and found a spot in the National Forest between Manila and Dutch John. The next morning we drove in and dropped off a set of keys for a shuttle. I found two places online for this service - Dutch John Resort and Flaming Gorge Resort. FGR's website was down the whole week I was looking, so I went with DJR. Bad decision. We showed up around 9am and it took them at least a half hour just to ring us up and get the details worked out. Not because they weren't busy, but because they couldn't figure out how to do it. It was a total mess, and I won't beat them up too much, but just enough. I left thinking to myself "don't worry, you have insurance". More to come on this later.

Eventually we were out $159 and on our way to the put in at Flaming Gorge Dam to do the final prep for launch. The space down at the ramp is very limited so you have to do all your prep up here. They mean business about moving boats in and out of there fast. If you don't have a trailer, you'd have trouble.

The view of the river from near the launch prep lot.

Loaded and ready, we continued down the extremely narrow and windy road to the ramp. One turn in particular must cause a lot of problems with big trucks and trailers. We backed in and were unloaded in seconds. It was fun watching that big heavy raft fly off into the river all rigged up. Taylor watched the boat while Sage and I parked the car in the lot. The shuttle company would come by later to move it to our take out.

Considering how busy the launch was, the river was very pleasant. The A section spans about 7 miles from the dam to the Little Hole take out. Since the construction of the dam, the water here has changed. Instead of being silty and somewhat warm, it comes out clear and cold from deep in the reservoir. This creates one of America's best trout fisheries. I read somewhere that there is something like 11,000 to 15,000 fish per mile in this stretch. And the water is clear as glass. It's mesmerizing.

We eddied out a few times and let some commercial paddle groups and fisherman move on by, just taking our time and enjoying the scenery. We both brought fishing gear, but we were enjoying the water and the view too much too much to bother with it.

JWP named this Red Canyon for a good reason.

The crew for this trip was just Taylor, Sage and myself.
green-abc-7-2016-1600-11.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-12.jpg

There are quite a few small rapids in the A section. First Anticipation Rapid, then Steamboat, then more like Rollercoaster, Shelf and Mother-in-Law (rated class II+, whatever that means). There were more, but I forget the names. In between the water moved quickly but smoothly. The dam was releasing unusually high flows for late July due to some fish habitat issue downstream. It fluctuates from day to night but I believe we were around 1600 CFS.

Looking back at Mother-in-Law Rapid. It's hard taking photos while you row. I probably need to invest in a GoPro if I'm going to keep doing this.
green-abc-7-2016-1600-14.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-15.jpg

Eddied out toward the end of the A section.

Soon we past the busy Little Hole ramps (three of them!) and were on our way into the B section. It seems like the traffic dropped by about 90% at this point. We only saw a few boats the rest of the day. The B section still has good scenery and good fishing, but the shuttle logistics are more difficult and time consuming.
green-abc-7-2016-1600-18.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-19.jpg

Perhaps a polarizer is in order next time. That water is incredibly clear.

A short clip of a tiny bit of the B section. I didn't realize those ducks were there when I started filming.

Nearing our campsite, we passed this turkey vulture hanging out on the river bank.

In camp.

Our camp that night was Trails End. It was a nice camp, but we got there way too early. We still had hours of daylight and not much to do but fish around camp. Most people say you need 3 days to float the ABC but at the flows we had, we could certainly do most of it in 2 days.

Trails End Camp

A woman on a raft drifting by.

Fiftymile tied up in camp.

The next day was overcast as we loaded and launched the boat. We ran into a few more drift boats fishing the B section as we worked our way down the river.

The big fun for the day and my first class III rapid, Red Creek. This one had me a little freaked out after seeing a video online of someone taking the right line, but after seeing other videos of the left line, I felt better.

Tied up to scout Red Creek Rapid with a little sun breaking through here and there.

You can look at rapids on YouTube and in photos all day long and they always look so much less significant than they do in person.

The left line was going to require a fair amount of maneuvering to catch the right line through the rocks. My line in this photo goes right through the biggest whitewater, and between the two rocks in the left low center.
Here is a little video clip I shot of the rapid while scouting it, along with a drift boat going through. I was watching the boat, not my camera screen so I didn't track them very well.

The ride through Red Creek went off almost perfectly. I bounced lightly off a rock at the end, but otherwise it was nothing but fun. SO. MUCH. FUN. I think I'm starting to get it. No photos, unfortunately. GoPro, GoPro, GoPro....

Further down the river, we ran into a rather hungry looking Moose munching on foliage along the shore.

Closer than I'd usually want to be to a moose.

We saw so many bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons and other birds on this trip, but I didn't get many photos of them.

A piece of the Little Hole trail in the lower B section. The Little Hole trail follows the river from the dam to Little Hole but high flows tent to wash out pieces of the boardwalk.

The end of the B section and the next take out is Indian Crossing. We kept on paddling, and soon passed by the old John Jarvie Ranch. John setup shop here in 1880. Unfortunately, he was murdered and sent floating down stream. I'd like to stop here the next time I float through, but a family had just pulled in and we felt like floating.

Starting at Indian Crossing, there are numerous warning about a low bridge that you can't float under at 'extreme high water'. I'd read online that we were nowhere near that so I didn't bother to look into it much. As we approached, it started looking shorter and shorter. The bimini went down first.

As it got closer and closer, I dived into the floor and pushed Sage down. Taylor bent over and we had plenty of space, but man, that was a lot closer than I had been expecting!
green-abc-7-2016-1600-38.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-39.jpg

A nice splashy section right after the bridge.

The C section gets the least love on this stretch of the Green. Most people online say to skip it because it's not that pretty or interesting. I say, yes, please, skip it. We hated having this 'ugly' stretch of river almost to ourselves.

Even Sage was all like "eww, look at this place".

I mean seriously, even the geese were getting the hell out. Probably heading to the A section - that's way cooler.
green-abc-7-2016-1600-43.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-44.jpg

Classic C section. It moved a lot faster than what I had read online led me to believe.

The final rapid in the C is Little Swallow. It's just a fun splashy stretch. No rocks or anything at this level.

I sat on my oars through it and took a little video.

Campsites in the C section are first come, first served (I think). We shot for, and got the Little Swallow camp right below Little Swallow rapid. It was sandy and totally awesome. Sage loved it.

A clip of her super awesome moonwalk stick dance. She only does it when she gets really happy and has just the right kind of sand.

We lounged on the raft the rest of the evening taking in the scenery. It was overcast but some light broke through later in the evening.

And then more the other direction. That power pole looking thing in the distance was one of many nests for birds of prey. It appeared to have a pair of Osprey living in it and making a lot of noise during sunset.

When we went to bed that night, the river was lapping at the cut bank on the beach. The boat was completely floating. By morning, the flow change of the dam had put almost the entire boat on solid ground. It took some work to get it back into the river.

The scenery kicks up a notch after Little Swallow.
green-abc-7-2016-1600-51.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-52.jpg

Approaching Swallow Canyon.
green-abc-7-2016-1600-53.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-54.jpg

25+ miles from the dam, the water is still really clear as we drift through Swallow Canyon.
green-abc-7-2016-1600-55.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-56.jpg green-abc-7-2016-1600-57.jpg

Some people take out right after Swallow Canyon. We opted to keep going into Colorado and take out at Swinging Bridge. It added another 3 or 4 miles to the day and was quite pleasant. The next time I do this (which might be really soon), I'll probably take out at Swallow Canyon. That's assuming similar flows but trying to pack it into two days. I'm sure my lack of river experience plays a big part in this, but I absolutely loved this trip. I only wish there were about a dozen more class III rapids. I feel the call of Desolation.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell the rest of the shuttle story. As we floated down the river, we talked about how the people at Dutch John Resort left us feeling less than certain that our vehicle would be where it should be. So as we passed by the various take outs, I would pull out my key FOB and hit the panic button. If we heard honking, we might have time to get to shore and take out. Fortunately, there was no honking and soon we were at Swinging Bridge. We walked up the road a bit to find the truck there as expected. The did park the trailer next to a two foot deep hole, but okay, it's here. Good.

As we loaded the boat, it started raining hard on us, but in the chaos, I noticed that the roller bar on my new trailer looked hammered. It wasn't shiny and black anymore but beat up and grey. No time to think about it though, it was raining too much.

As we drove home, I thought more about it. And about how the two pins that secure my top decks were both missing. Slowly I started putting together the pieces. I still have no idea if this is what happened, but I feel reasonably confident that it was at least something like this.

When I left the trailer, I left a cooler and a step stool in it. The cooler had nothing but two ice jugs inside. My theory is that kids(?) saw that cooler and thought there might be booze to steel in it. So they figured out how to open my trailer which involves removing those pins. The tailgate would then drop onto the ground and they would have access. After opening the cooler, they would be annoyed that nothing was there and move on. Not very likely they would put the tailgate back up.

Meanwhile, a day or two later, the not-so-great shuttle co. shows up to move the truck. They fail to walk around the vehicle and make sure it is road ready, and proceed to drive off. As they do, the roller on the tailgate is in direct content with the road surface. I imagine it would make lots of noise if you had your window down, but if not, you might not even notice.

I imagine they made it some distance down the road before someone flagged them down or something before they went out and closed it. Another odd thing - that cooler had a fair amount of dirt and gravel in it that wasn't there when we left. Maybe the cooler fell out and that is how they noticed? I'm not sure. What I do know, is that I should have put locks on the trailer to replace those pins. I should have also stopped and talked to Flaming Gorge Resort. Not only do they seem to supply boats to the majority of people on that river, they also seem to have their shit way more together than Dutch John Resort. When I got home their website was back up. To put a little salt in the wound, they are also more than $30 less expensive that Dutch John. Live and learn!
Suuuuuper cool. It's funny how much different the river looks at 1600 cfs than 8600 cfs.
Bummer about the trailer.

Sort of, but not too bad. It's built so tough that it's just cosmetic. I'll probably coat it with some of that rubbery rhino liner type stuff in a can and it will be better than ever.

Suuuuuper cool. It's funny how much different the river looks at 1600 cfs than 8600 cfs.

Ha! Yeah, funny how that works when there's like 5 times as much water! Looking at that low bridge, you'd think 8600 CFS would take it out after long enough. Who the hell thought that was a good idea. Also surprising to see so much of the Little Hole trail scattered down the river. Is 8k+ really that uncommon?
Is 8k+ really that uncommon?

It used to be, right up until the BOR realized simulated spring floods were necessary for the June Sucker. Running the water that high gets the eggs into pools where the fish are able to hatch and grow without the little ones being eaten by the bigger non-native fish. So now they run at least two weeks of high flow every year, so long as water resources allow. My understanding is 8600 cfs is the regulatory maximum because any more than that risks doing serious damage downstream.
Great stuff Nick! I dig the video clips and stills in one post. Might have to steal this idea for future posts. I also SO hear you about youtube "boat scouting" making rapids seem so insignificant. We joke that you have to add +1 class of difficulty at least from the youtube video. I re-learned this lesson this year on the Bruneau "youtube" scouting 5 mile rapid at high water. What I saw on the computer and what I saw standing on the bank above the rapid were a world apart. Its also important to remember - if it looks big/difficult on youtube then its truly nuts!
Glad you are enjoying the raft, stoked to see where it takes you next.
Good stuff Nice. The A section is truly beautiful with that clear water! Bummer about the trailer...but like you said, just cosmetic and easily fixed. Good attitude.

I agree with you and @mattvogt7 about how the rapids looks so much different in person. =)
breaking that boat in. hell yeah.

I'm glad you're getting the kinks worked out for me ;)
Must have been tough rowing by all those fish thru A and not even wetting a line. It can be like looking into an aquarium. I always loved the water color and amazing clarity of the upper river. Have dory floated all sections many times, but always day trips. Mostly A and C for the easier shuttles. Use to camp all the time by a big cottonwood at Taylor Flats in lower B above Indian Crossing . Always had that area to ourselves. Fishing in that area used to be stellar year round. Unless Red Creek mudded it out after rain or spring snowmelt.
So.. you pretty much got a good idea of all 3 sections now. Pretty casual water except for Red Creek. Your trip and pictures brought back many memories. Loved looking at the river again. Thanks for showing a sweet river trip.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Nick Learning Lightroom Photography 56
Nick Last of The Great Unknown on ABC Nightline tonight! General Discussion 1
Rockskipper You think you found a pithouse, or maybe an Ancestral Puebloan tower near Green River, UT? It's maybe something even more interesting... General Discussion 3
balzaccom The Green Comet General Discussion 2
R Wind River Range: Green River Lakes/Clarks Trail/Porcupine Creek Trail Trip Planning 3
Mikjik86 Another Wind River Trip Planning! Elkhart/Titcomb/Knapsack/Shannons Pass loop back to Elkhart, or continue to Green River Lakes Trailhead? Trip Planning 10
WasatchWill WRHR - Day 7: Beaver Park to Green River Lakes Backpacking 15
futurafree Green vs. Colorado Rivers above confluence Trip Planning 5
Bob USFS cabin green River Lakes, WY Trip Planning 0
Rockskipper Sayonara, Quiet Little Green River General Discussion 8
marquiri Wind River Range - Green River Lakes Trailhead Trip Planning 9
Gunnahafta Green River <> Big Sandy WIND RIVER RANGE Trip Planning 1
M 5 days Green > Elk Wind River route advice August 17th Trip Planning 9
Matt Van Natta HELP: Wind River Range, Baker Lake to Green River Lakes Trip Planning 7
Tim Valentine Green River Paddle On The Water 6
Dreamer Wind River Dreaming | Summer 2019 July 17 - July 29 | Green River Lakes - Elkhart Park Backpacking 14
S Backcountry camping tips for Wind Rivers - upper Green River valley via canoe Trip Planning 5
O Green River/Stillwater Canyon question regarding water Trip Planning 3
Ugly Saturday in Black and White, with a smudge of Green Hiking & Camping 3
SKLund Sheiks to Green Mask How To Trip Planning 0
George_Washington_Hayduke 2 nights on the Green River Daily @13000cfs On The Water 1
frahminator Scenic drive: PHX to Green River Trip Planning 1
DrNed North Platte & Upper Green River Trip Planning 0
Nick The Green River Daily On The Water 6
balzaccom Blue skies and green trees in the Sierra Nevada General Discussion 0
Blake Merrell Wind Rivers 2016: Green River to Elkhart Backpacking 8
JoshuaDyal Crossing the Green River by foot near Gates of Lodore Trip Planning 0
someguy Green River - B Section River Camp Hiking & Camping 8
kimbur96 Catamount Trail, Green Mountain Falls, CO Hiking & Camping 4
hatchcanyon Utah: Green River, Fossil Point Off Road 1
hatchcanyon Utah, Green River: Horse Bench Off Road 1
Dave Green River Lakes Redux On The Water 24
Udink Green River through Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons On The Water 14
Aldaron Winds - Green River Lakes to Elkhart Park Backpacking 14
Tres Westbrook Green River Canoe Trip - Mineral Bottom to Spanish Bottom May 24-29, 2015 (Part 1 - Days 1 and 2) On The Water 5
Nick Green River Lakes On The Water 23
Blake Merrell BSA High Adventure 2015 - Day 2 - Kayaking the Green River On The Water 10
andyjaggy Green River Lakes. Trip Planning 1
Aldaron Green River Lakes to Titcomb Basin Trip Planning 7
andyjaggy Green River Lakes in May Trip Planning 1
uintahiker Green Chile Sauce Resource Discussions 4
balzaccom Green Lakes, Hoover Wilderness Backpacking 5
isleroyaleguy Green River TH to Elkhart vs Elkhart to Green River Trip Planning 7
Laura Possible Dam on the Green River in WY General Discussion 3
DrNed Green River State Park to Mineral Bottom On The Water 4
Nanda Overnighter in Green river Backpacking 0
andyjaggy Green River Lakes TH to New Fork Lake TH Trip Planning 17
steve Invite Kayak/Canoe Trip on the Green River - May 8-11 Meet Up (Members Only) 7
hatchcanyon Crystal Geyser, Green River General Discussion 4
ROKTAXI Tusher Canyon / Green River 11/2013 Off Road 2

Similar threads