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Old 11-25-2014   #11
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 728
Going anytime from Dec to Feb is very likely asking for more trouble than it's worth and maybe even dangerous on everything upstream from Lake Powell. Remember those canyons are deep, and many stretches of rivers don't see sun for a month or more.

Perhaps the Salt has runnable stretches in winter?

The best bet for winter may be the Rio Grande down around Big Bend, there are a couple legs that done consecutively can take from 3 to 10 days or more.

A good week of weather ahead will probably be your last chance on the Plateau rivers until spring, better hurry...

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Old 11-25-2014   #12
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,909
I'm with DoStep and Nate. I knew some buddies once that tried to run Ruby Horsethief once in late December or early January. When they encountered a 6-foot high ice dam, the guys wound up de-rigging and caching all their gear in the sage brush. One of the guys had a tiny raft and they all portaged it around the ice dam and floated out the next morning after camping out (which they had the gear for). They went back and got all their gear when it warmed up enough around Valentine's Day.

It was all a fun adventure for them but I have to wonder what would've happened if the shelf ice along the shore had prevented them from landing.

Have fun & be safe, whatever you do. Big Bend sounds better to me...


Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 11-26-2014   #13
Western Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 86
How much did the helicopter ride set you back?
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Old 11-26-2014   #14
GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 478
Originally Posted by natepelton View Post
Colorado, Green, San Juan

Which rivers/sections are done in the winter months (Dec-Mar)? Looking for long trip alternatives for years we don't get a Grand Canyon permit. Guide books say many rivers in Utah run year-round, but wondering if anyone really goes or is it generally too cold (for most)?

Each of the last three winters when we crossed the San Juan on Hwy 163 @ Mexican Hat it was frozen solid, wall to wall. Always late December or early January when we head that way (to ride bikes on dry trails in the Southern AZ sun...).
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Old 11-26-2014   #15
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
We spent a very happy New Years on the Rio Grand in Big Bend country; yeah, we got snowed on.....check that.......we got blizzarded on, but a handy natural hot spring made it all tolerable.

If you absolutely, positively, must get wet in winter, Big Bend might be just the thing.
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Old 11-26-2014   #16
wildh2onriver's Avatar
irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
Winter Rafting Trips in Utah

We also spent a Christmas thru New Years in the lower canyons stretch below big bend one year. Started out cold for the put in night, ended up being in the mid 70s during the days.

My passenger and I, were in a super puma at about 350 cfs. Beautiful, remote canyon country. Pretty much pond, riffle, pond, except for a few boulder garden rapids. All rowing at that level as there was really no current. The hot springs were warm, not hot. Still, it was worth every aching moment of rowing a hundred miles of ponds. I really don't think that boat could have made it down at any lower flows -- it was tight in several sections.

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Old 11-28-2014   #17
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Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 70
The Colorado has frozen solid two years in a row now. Three years ago it was completely runnable year round, who knows what will happen this year? There is great wilderness out in Canyonlands in the winter. With that being said, I'm planning a cat trip next weekend, I cant wait.
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Old 11-30-2014   #18
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 78
Go skiing in Utah during the winter. The San Juan would be the most likely to be boatable, but I wouldn't try it any earlier than March. Big Bend would be your best bet if it has sufficient flows. If you just want to get on the water, then the lower Colorado below Lake Meade would work, but its more of a canoe run.....
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Old 11-30-2014   #19
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Colotucky, USA
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,054
We did a diamond down to lake mead fom dec 30th to jan 5th. And it was awesome.
Who's your monkey?
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Old 12-23-2014   #20
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Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 70
My cat trip was great. Awesome weather. Matter of fact Loma to dirty devil is still runnable, higher than average flows really. Cataract is at 7,500 cfs. Waterfowl are in season too. Here in Utah, one can hunt birds from their non motorized raft. If your into that sort of thing.

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