Rainy Colorado


May 19, 2012

I just floated this section a month ago, but the chance arose last week to go with my wife and another couple in their sea kayaks. It has been 2 years since we had done a river trip together, and we were happy to share the experience again. We decided not to have any goals, other than not to camp at a spot we had been at before. We got late starts each day, and generally camped around 6pm. We floated for 3 days.
The interesting part was the weather report: 80% (!) chance of rain on our first 2 days, 50% on the third. We were warned of a possible 24-30" rise in the river (depending on river width) by the guy at Tex's, which is significant. Our first day was cloudy width bits of sun, then a steady rain after 10pm, which lasted until 11am the next morning.
On a side note I bought a 9' Kelty Noah's Tarp. Very cool piece of equipment, set's up in a few minutes and is bomber. We hung out quite a bit under it, all four of us.

The Canyonlands area is a real tease. It will lull you into a sense of bliss, and then when you least expect it, it kicks your ass.
We had a glorious day on our second day, after the morning rain. Sunny, warm, glassy. We passed some tempting sand bars, but were not high enough. We thought, it's so beautiful and warm and hardly a cloud in the sky, maybe 24" above the water is enough! Tempting white sand beaches were passed by. Then about 5pm we saw a black mass edge it's way over the canyon wall. Shit! Luckily we saw a sand bar to our left, and headed for it. We were about 15' from the shore when a wall of water and wind hit us, literally. We made it to the sand bar, and the rain was bouncing off the sand, so if you were within 36" of the ground you got it twice. Setting up the tent was a useless endeavor, but one that I attempted, and of course finished about 5 minutes before the rain stopped, as quickly as it hit us. Then brilliant sun.
Our third day was spectacular, 85 degrees, no wind and glassy water. We decided to find a spot that was at least 36" above the river. The spot we picked was about 42" above the river.
I got up about 4am to do some business, and noted with some alarm the level of the river, which had come up about 18". Sleep was difficult the rest of the night, I wasn't too worried as we could move camp quickly to higher ground, and then on to the canoe if needed.
Our sand bar soon became an island! We had a pretty high area at the center, and we quickly moved everything over there. We were picked up around 1pm, and the water had pretty much peaked by then.

Al in all a great trip, with no goals, plenty of great food and drink, with good friends.

Our first camp:

Watching a thunderstorm:

Right after the deluge, 2nd camp:

Third camp. 12 hours later the area between me and our yellow tent would be under water. We moved everything to the left to higher ground:

Waiting for the jet boat:

Featured image for home page:
Last edited:


Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
May 5, 2012
I need to do this stretch of river so bad. Awesome pictures.


Hike Hard, Tread Lightly
May 15, 2013
I love the b/w moon, friends on the beach and the canoes on the beach. Nicely captured. It's a great section of river.


Aug 9, 2007
Beautiful photos, Greg. That's awesome you still headed out with that kind of forecast. Crazy to have to think about the river rising so much overnight. I'm going to check out that tarp you bought. Looks like a nice piece of gear.


May 19, 2012
Thanks for your comments.
A 3' rise on the Colorado isn't rare I guess, but it happened in about 4 hours, which is what surprised me.
I am sold on the Noah's Tarp, although I would get the 12' or 15' one. Ours is the 9', cozy for 4 w/coolers or gear.


May 19, 2012
A couple of pics from my our friend Peg, during a break in the storms, glassy heaven:

Lunch break:



Jul 5, 2014
Looks like a lot of fun. All in all sounds like you had your share of good weather as well. By the way, how do you measure the height above water level? Just curious. Is there a tool for this?


May 19, 2012
From the boat we guess obviously, my eyes are about 42" +/- off the water, so I can do a line of site guess. If we think we have found a good spot, the top of my pelvis/hip bone is 42" off the ground, so it is easy to estimate the height. All of these sand bars had steep cuts on parts of the bank that made it easy.
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
balzaccom Rainy days in Death Valley Hiking & Camping 3
mattvogt7 A Rainy Return Backpacking 8
fossana Plan B Rainy Day Backyard Exploring Hiking & Camping 9
Yvonne Valentine's Day lava - a rainy day at the flow Everything Else 13
D South Coyote Buttes on a cloudy / rainy day Trip Planning 4
Harrison1991 Colorado climbing Meet Up (Members Only) 2
J Scrambles in the Lower Colorado River Corridor AZ/NV; Dec. 11-14, 2020 Hiking & Camping 5
Gimmy Hello from Colorado Noobs: Introduce yourself! 2
piper01 fall foliage in Colorado late September Trip Planning 6
W Little Colorado shuttle / transport Trip Planning 7
TrailScot Quite the Adventure, South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 4 Backpacking 17
TrailScot Quite the Adventure, South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 3 Backpacking 8
TrailScot Quite the Adventure - South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 2 Backpacking 14
TrailScot Quite the Adventure - South of Moab, Across the Colorado Plateau, May 2019 - Part 1 Backpacking 10
powderglut NW Colorado Snow conditions General Discussion 16
Titans COLORADO PLATEAU ROAD TRIP - November & December 2018. Hiking & Camping 21
Dan_85 New dams proposed for Little Colorado River/Grand Canyon General Discussion 2
Nohmichel Colorado Backpacking in October 7-12 2019 Trip Planning 8
Shirt357 Colorado or Oregon? General Discussion 25
D Colorado advice?? Other trip suggestions?? Trip Planning 15
Rockskipper Snowshed on Red Mountain Pass, Colorado, 3-16-19 General Discussion 7
D Hello from Colorado Noobs: Introduce yourself! 1
TrektheWorld Booth Lake Basin - Gore Range, Colorado Backpacking 7
DuneElliot Colorado Trail Section Hike, June 2018 Backpacking 9
stevecochranephotography Blue Lakes Trail... Southwest Colorado in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness Hiking & Camping 9
stevecochranephotography Notch Mountain Trail - Mount of the Holy Cross and Shelter - Minturn, Colorado Hiking & Camping 4
Tystevens Dog friendly 1-2 night trip within a couple hours of I70 in Utah or Colorado... Trip Planning 4
Janice Recommendations for Colorado Backpack? Backpacking 25
Dreamer Summer 2012: trip 1: a short visit to a small corner of The Great Wasted Forest of Northern Colorado Backpacking 11
stevecochranephotography Storm King Mountain Memorial Trail... Glenwood Springs, Colorado Hiking & Camping 6
O Greetings from a Colorado Noob. Noobs: Introduce yourself! 9
AbinadiWitness Part 1: Telluride Via Ferrata and Mount Sneffels SW Ridge from Blue Lakes- Colorado Trip # 1 - 2017 Backpacking 0
AbinadiWitness Colorado Adventure 2016: To the Grenadiers! Backpacking 9
gnwatts Mosey down the Colorado On The Water 5
Perry Wow! Another Impressive Feat: Man Climbs Colorado's 100 Highest Peaks. Nonstop General Discussion 2
Rockskipper Colorado Sand Dunes General Discussion 0
Rockskipper Wanna buy a Colorado 14er? General Discussion 13
Rockskipper Howdy from W. Colorado Noobs: Introduce yourself! 0
b.stark Colorado Springs area Trip Planning 12
tomcat32 Rattlesnake Arches- Fruita, Colorado Hiking & Camping 3
DrNed Colorado River to Dolores River Trip Planning 1
DrNed White River In Colorado Trip Planning 6
Joey Backpacking Colorado's Maroon Bells, Snowmass Wilderness, Four Pass Loop in mid October Backpacking 21
kimbur96 Day hike in Section 16, Colorado Springs Hiking & Camping 4
H Hello from Colorado Noobs: Introduce yourself! 1
M VIDEO - Bear Peak, Boulder, Colorado General Discussion 0
natylka Fisher Towers Section of the Colorado River-Canoe Trip Trip Planning 3
M VIDEO TR - Colorado 14ers Decalibron Loop Backpacking 0
Sandro Invite Grand Canyon, Utah Flats & Little Colorado, October Meet Up (Members Only) 7
Eugene Lost Wilderness - Colorado Trail - Brookside McCurdy - Wigwam - Rolling Creek Loop Backpacking 0

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.