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Old 05-06-2011   #11
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,931
Plan on plenty of time for layovers. Weather is warming up and levels are rising. They just released an extra 4k from Flaming Gorge to prevent spill over, so it is contributing 9k right now total. Deso should easily be above 20k by the end of the next week.

All the canyons have great hikes according to my friend who has done the canyon 15-20 times now.

The arch in 3 Canyon is easy to find if you always take the right fork of any trail out of the upper camp. Small guy but worth the hike. Here there are worthy explorations in the area for granaries but have never found them myself.

Camps change alot above 20k but there are still plenty of grassy knolls and sand spots to use.

We have a May 22nd launch...can't wait to see the water year that may actually beat out 1983 (this from a release from the BRec)...sounds like a little more snow may be on its way early next week.


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Old 05-06-2011   #12
summit, Colorado
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 159
Gremlin, I wouldn't worry too much about the skeeters - we've done Deso twice, both in mid-May, and the last time we were even able to sleep outside (no tent or anything) at Sand Wash the night before launching. I think the mosquitoes don't come out till the water starts dropping and those nice marshy areas appear. What you DO need to worry about is "floaties" in the river. Trees...cows...we did it at 19k a couple years ago, and had to change camps more than once because there was a large dead critter either circling or stuck in the camp eddy stinkin' up the place. I can only imagine this year's high water will bring even more stuff down the river.

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Old 05-06-2011   #13
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 1,105
Sounds like an adventure! I can't wait ro see what we encounter!
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Old 05-06-2011   #14
tllut's Avatar
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by tmaggert View Post
So I am planning a 7 day Desolation/Gray Canyons trip for next Friday the 13th (superstition anyone?) and would like some help with hikes/stops. I did this trip for the first time last year but we only planned for 5 days and spent it all on the water (minus camps). Everyone wished we took more time and this year I want to do it right/better.

I have already searched and read every post I could find on here and gathered lots of information. I also have Desolation/Gray Canyons River Guide by Thomas G. Rampton and the RiverMaps guide book. We even got the Indian permit.

I do have some questions though:
  1. What is the deal with the "Space Cube Petroglyphs"? Does anyone know where they are located? Some seem to claim they are up Price River drainage others that they are up stream from there. I also vaguely remember someone mentioning they were closed or the Indians didn't want us to visit.
  2. What are the best spots to layover? Three Canyon sounds great and was able to read more about the hikes around there. I read some brief mentions to layovers at Wire Fence and Log Cabin but not much about hikes around there.
  3. Has anyone gone far up Flat Canyon? We walked a decent way up last year but turned around because we wanted to get on the river. I'm thinking this might be a cool canyon to check out on a layover day.
  4. Any idea how long it will take to hike up to the arch at Three Canyon? It looks close to the river but you never know the technicalities. We might be doing a layover here but would like to know if we choose otherwise.
I have run Deso many times as a commercial guide (and now private boater) at levels from 1800 to 25000. I will be launching one day behind you and it looks like we are going to be floating on high water! Flaming Gorge dam is wide open and the Yampa is supposed to hit 14-16K next week. For you, this means you have ALOT of time to layover, hike, or whatever. I am limited on time, and I debated over doing 3 nights or 4 for my trip. The high water presents some interesting choices. You can easily move at 6-8 river mph without even trying at those levels. The prime camps are tough to get because people either layover or hang out until early afternoon to move on. If you get a good camp, enjoy it and don't worry about time.
Just a word of warning about Three Canyon it is AKA "the windiest place on earth". One commercial company had to evacuate a trip there a few years ago because an unrigged boat was flipped by the wind on the shore. Lost groover and food cooler. It is a nice camp, if it isn't windy.
The Space Cube is a great hike and I think the info you already got is accurate. The skeleton of a dead fellow has resided within 100 yards of the river for over a century in a canyon near there too.
I'd be happy to share some more info with you, especially if you promise I wont catch you at Jack Creek Saturday night. LOL
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Old 05-07-2011   #15
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Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 100
Originally Posted by tllut View Post
I'd be happy to share some more info with you, especially if you promise I wont catch you at Jack Creek Saturday night. LOL
Man I was thinking about camping there Saturday night too. I'll leave it for you though.

Thanks so much for everyone's help. I think I have formulated a rough plan for the trip. Let me know what you guys think.

Day 1 Friday 13th
Activities- 80.1 Rock House Canyon Petroglyph
Camp- 78.1 Opposite Stampede Flat

Day 2 Saturday 14th
Activities- 68.8 Mushroom Rock Petroglyphs & 66.0 Moonshiner's Cabin
Camp- 62.9 Flat Canyon

Day 3 Sunday 15th (Layover One)
Activities- Explore
Camp- 62.9 Flat Canyon

Day 4 Monday 16th
Activities- 54.0 Rock Creek Ranch/Petroglyphs & 49.9 Three Canyon Arch
Camp- 51.3 Snap Canyon or 49.9 Three Canyon or 48.6 Chandler Falls or 47.8 Lion Hollow

Day 5 Tuesday 17th
Activities- 47.2 Chandler Falls(Maybe) & 41.5 Scout Joe Hutch
Camp- 37.1 Wire Fence II

Day 6 Wednesday 18th (Layover Two)
Activities- Explore & Scout Wire Fence/Three Fords
Camp- 37.1 Wire Fence II

Day 7 Thursday 19th
Activities- 32.4 Space Cube Petroglyphs, (31.2 Range Creek) & 26.1 Scout Coal Creek
Camp- 22.3 School Section or 15.5 Above Sand Knoll

Day 8 Friday 20th (Take-out)
Activities- 18.2 Price River Petroglyphs
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Old 05-07-2011   #16
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 150
We put up a really cool route on an unclimbed tower near the Mushroom Rock Camp a few weeks ago. The Siren is about a two and a half hour hike up the side canyon behind the petroglyph rock. The route is 3 pitches, 5.10+ C2, and is actually a really good route - we were very pleasantly surprised by the rock quality. Route information is here: Mountain Project: Climbing Desolation Canyon > Shake Wait

The hike up to it is also great if you aren't a climber - there is a really neat zig zag arch on the left rim of the side canyon when you get to where a dry waterfall halts easy progress.

You can see me in red at the P1 anchor halfway up the tower and my partner 20 feet above me on P2 if you look closely.
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Old 05-08-2011   #17
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jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 164
i think there are two camps at jack creek
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Old 05-08-2011   #18
tmaggert's Avatar
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 100
Originally Posted by stuntsheriff View Post
i think there are two camps at jack creek
There are two camps (at least according to However, it worked out better for me to shoot down to Flat Canyon for a layover because of the swift flows.
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Old 05-08-2011   #19
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Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: '05
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 82
Odd Question

But just wondering, and thought I'd stir the pot further: Anyone ever had any weird experiences at Three Canyon? Not quite sure what kind of response I'm expecting to that, but I thought I'd throw it out there...

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