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Old 05-20-2011   #1
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262
Yampa Trip Report 5/11-5/15

Yampa Trip 5/11/11 – 5/15/11

Put In: Deerlodge Campground
Take Out: Split Mountain Gorge Campground

Miles: 71 river miles

Flow: 14,200cfs at Deerlodge launch. Flow went down to 11,000cfs on the 14th before getting to Yampa/Green confluence. Then 15,000cfs from Green confluence down to take-out at Split Mountain Gorge.

Water Speed: 12.5mph as reported by Andy the ranger at put-in. It was moving!

Day 1:

Deerlodge to Tee-Pee Hole Campground.
Launch at 1:20pm, land at camp at 3:30pm. 10 river miles in 130 minutes.

Ranger warned us about unnamed rapid once into Yampa canyon. There was continous class II+ boogie water once in Yampa Canyon. Around Anderson Camp mile 42 we saw the unnamed rapid. Decent wave/hole that is easily avoidable by staying river right. It is deceiving cause it looks like a fun wave train in the main current but this hole is a sleeper and could easily throw you for a surprise. Best avoided in a gear boat.

There was very little eddy service at this level from Deerlodge to Tee-Pee so keep 4 boat spacing distance so communication is easy.

We eddied out river right at Three Pinnacles to regroup and devise a plan to land at Tee-Pee since we heard there was not much of an eddy. We went down first accompanied by ducky and mini-me oar rig to assess the landing. Boats left every minute or so to keep a good space for an assisted landing. Make sure to pull away from wall at Three Pinnacles because the current at this level wants to slam you into the river right wall. One boat broke a blade and cracked an oar here.

We all landed safely at Tee-Pee just in time for Paloma happy hour (tequila, soda, squirt, lime…mmm tasty!). There is a little uphill walk to a good kitchen spot but overall great campsite with lots of tree coverage. Cocktails in hand we all walked to Tee-Pee rapid to check it out. Good sticky hole at this level. Next morning watched some fellow Roaring Fork Valley rafters in another group almost flip in there and launched one passenger out of boat for a short swim. Stay river right and you will be fine.

Day 2:

Tee-Pee Hole to Harding Hole 2
Launch at 1:15pm, land at camp at 5pm. Lunch stop around mile 32. 16.5 river miles in 3hrs. not including 45minute lunch stop.
Launched and ran Tee-Pee Rapid. As I mentioned stay river right and all good.

Lunch stop we had the honor of pushing a dead calf off the beach for its continued journey down river.

Little Joe was a pull river right after entering the tongue to avoid a medium sized hole.

Big Joe rapid was the rapid of the day with a fun wave train and a big hole to avoid river right at the top of the rapid. Keep bow straight down river and you will be fine. Hit a nice size wave that went over the bow dropping a nice size piece of drift wood in the lap of one passenger.

Harding Hole 2 is a sweet camp with a great hike up to the top of the rock wall by accessing 4x4 trail to left of rock when looking straight up at it. Good beach here at our level for some Polish Horsehoes.

Day 3:

Harding Hole 2 to Warm Springs Camp
Launch at 12:10pm, land at camp at 7:15pm. Lunch stop at Mantle Cave and hike to the cave. 2 hours or so for scouting and safety plan for Warm Springs. Sure, it was a long safety assessment but we were camping at Warm Springs so if anything went wrong we were going to have to continue down river. Ducky portages, some out of group of 25 prefer not to run. Some boat captains run twice for those not comfortable.

Did not stop at Signature Cave but wish we had. Will do next time.

Dead cow #2 at Mathers Hole campground.

Great flat water canyon scenery the whole way to Warm Springs.

Make sure to kiss Tiger Wall for luck going through Warm Springs. Make sure boat is going slow enough to kiss so you don’t scrape your lips

Scout Warm Springs, set safety with throw baggers before lateral wave and below adjacent to Maytag Hole. Run rapid in three groups of boats. 3, 3, 3. From scout beach keep your boat river right the whole way down. Stay out of main current, wave train the best you can so you can catch slack water above mandatory lateral river right before Maytag Hole. T up to lateral then pull towards river right shore. It was certainly an intimidating rapid. Maytag Hole is HUGE! I would not want to go in there with a gear boat whatsoever. It seemed to me if you did you and/or your boat would get a serious Maytagging!

Camped at Warm Springs, in the morning walked upriver via path from camp and hung out in the Warm Spring that is not necessarily warm but much warmer than the river and runs crystal clear.

Day 4:

Warm Springs Camp to Jones Hole 1
Launch at 11am, land at camp 1:15pm. No lunch stop.

Great sunny flat water day. Recommend to row river right at confluence and float on the Green for a few minutes. The Green is green and the Yampa brown so pretty neat to see the two join forces.

Jones Hole 1 was my favorite camp of the trip. Plenty of shade trees, really flat, awesome hike up Jones Hole Creek to a waterfall and some pictographs 2 miles up the creek. Cross the creek from Jones Hole 1 to get on the trail.

Day 5:

Jones Hole 1 to Split Mountain Gorge take out.
Launch at 11am, land at take out 4:45pm. Lunch stop at Little Rainbow Park for 45minutes.

Great flat water section from Jones to Rainbow with a few small sections of class II boogie water between Jones and The Cove campground.

We didn’t see the Bison Petroglyphs on river left after Big Island. We were looking but obviously not hard enough.

At Little Rainbow there was a vault toilet and recycling and trash dumpsters so we took the opportunity to unload some aluminum there.

Heading out from lunch there was a boat swap between a couple folks. Steve rowed the 16’ Sotar to get some practice with a bigger heavier boat before his Grand trip in June. Matt rowed Steve’s 13’ Saturn (Yes, a Saturn!). I was next to last in the lineup of 9 boats and Matt went into Moonshine and got flipped in one of the many huge waves in here. He and his passenger quickly made it on top of the raft and were able to be bumped into the eddy river right. We made it down unscathed, just keep the bow pointing downstream with some downriver momentum. The waves are BIG but manageable. They were able to flip the Saturn back over by hand with 3 people before we even made it into the eddy. They did lose a black dry bag with dry tops/pants in it so if you see it please grab it! There is a reward!

Great class II-III boogie water all the way through to the take out.

Pull river right in SOB rapid away from river left wall and you will be good.

A near dump truck in Inglesby was the last interesting event of the trip. Avoidable by staying river left. After going past it river left and looking back upstream at it I wish I had run just right of the pourover cause there is a fun looking chute there.

From what the ranger told us we had a great itinerary with the camps we had selected but every campsite I saw along the way looked great.

One point of advice for the check out process with the ranger was that he asked us for a group roster. This was something our TL had sent in with the permit application. So worth having a copy with you at the put-in. Other not so normal items would also be a first aid kit for EACH BOAT, spare PFD, etc.

AWESOME trip! Would do it again in a heart beat! And I think I could say I would do it at any level!

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Old 05-20-2011   #2
Boy Howdy!
pinemnky13's Avatar
Colotucky, USA
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,054
Thanks Cal, we have a 26th put in, a little nervous but hey what can ya do?

Who's your monkey?
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Old 05-20-2011   #3
CWorthy's Avatar
Winter Park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 110
Our Fraser Valley group of 21 (11 boats) ran the Yampa 5/9-13. You nailed the runs and the levels. A few more comments on this season's run:

At the put-in at Deer Lodge, there was a HUGE tree blocking half the ramp - was it still there when you launched on the 11th? It made for tough rigging - we had to rig 3 boats at a time, move them downstream and tie them off and then rig 3 more and so on. It was a bit of a hassle, but I was most surprised that no mention of this tree had been made by others on other posts, since the ranger said it had been there all winter.

We had an 11' boat flip in Little Joe - got a little too sideways and Blip! Over it went. No carnage there though - lost hat, but flipped boat back over and kept going pretty quickly. Very difficult to find anything but micro-eddies at this level.

Since we had so many boats, the ranger cautioned us about the Warm Springs scout, so we sent 6 boats in ahead of us and the 5 boats remaining were prepared to "read and run" if we couldn't get in to the eddy. We ended up being able to get in by tying some of the boats off the back of others. Then, the first 5 boats ran it while the others watched from shore. It was easy to stay out of the wave train and get in to the slack water on the right and punch through the lateral at the bottom, then eddy out at the Warm Springs camp where we waited in a tide of logs, trees and other flotsam. 11 clean runs in Warm Springs and camped at Box Elder 3 (awesome!).

Next day, on to Island Park. The river was moving, and we didn't get to spend nearly enough time on the water IMO, but it was great fun!

Split Mountain was a blast. The sun was shining and, I'd have to say Inglesby was the biggest of all ~ we did take the right run, which was punchy, but washed the boat off well!

We were derigged and on the road by 3:50 and back in the valley by 9 pm after a stop at the Cantina in Steamboat for dinner.

Great trip!
"I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead." - Jimmy Buffett
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Old 05-20-2011   #4
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262

Yes the big dead tree is right there in the water at the ramp. There was another group rigging right by the ramp so we dropped our boats and then lined them around that group to the downstream side of them. There are big parking block rocks there that tied our boats too. This made for really easy rigging cause the water was only about a foot below the parking lot ledge there. Well that is we all had our boats on trailers so mostly rigged before putting them in water...

Glad you had a good trip, what an awesome watershed!

Pinemonkey, you will have a blast!
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Old 05-20-2011   #5
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 262
Another note...we camped at the Deerlodge put-in on Tuesday night. Nice campground with the exception of goose turds everywhere. Also there was no toilet paper in the vault toilets which I thought was BS for a $185 permit fee. I would camp away from the water in the event the water comes up since it wasn't too far off from flooding at 14,200...
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Old 05-20-2011   #6
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 149
Thanks for all the info. We launch on the 28th so we are preparing for bigger water. The info on the rapids is great, and I am interested to see what the extra water will do to them. Keep the TR coming

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