Cataract Canyon, How Big??? It's at 6K - Mountain Buzz

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Old 08-15-2006   #1
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 79
Cataract Canyon, How Big??? It's at 6K

Heading to Cataract Canyon this weekend, and was just looking for a little information on the size of the rapids. The water level has been around 6K this week.

I found this link from an earlier post, and damn, those are some of the biggest waves I may have ever seen. You should check it out.

For some reason, I don't suspect our trip will be as "fun", but just wondering if anyone had any information.


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Old 08-15-2006   #2
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 27
Cataract at this level is still fun as all hell, make sure you take two days to do the rapids and camp at #10 for the kayakers, rapid #5 caused a flip for one of our rafts last year, but they botched it completely so if you have someone who can row fairly well, they will be able to get away from that strange hole, only neccesary scout is probably big drop #3, and maybe big drop #2 if you aren't feeling confident. Other than that they are all pretty straight forward and you will have a blast, have fun and make sure to bring plenty of ice and beer.
pauley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2006   #3
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 58
Last week...

I just ran cat last week in a 14' raft; it was all pretty chill. I even managed to pile my way through the hole in #5 without flipping! Five looks very unimpressive from up above. I did not scout, but did not see the hole until late. I would not want to hit it in a light raft or a kayak. Scout if you are not able to pick it out from up above. Lots of flat-water before and after, and the "two addtional rapids" that supposedly appear secondary to lower Powell levels were not there for me. ??? Very few technical moves were required in the raft. Most rapids were just converging or straight wave trains, with only a few technical moves toward the end. Play around on Big Drop #2 by taking a right line, as the left line is currently very under-challenging. Drop #3 is certainly worth a scout, picking out the waves up top of the left side to mark your point of entry. Walk 5 meters upstream and look at them again; keep doing this so you enter in the correct spot. There were not many people on the river. Every commercial trip I encountered was small and very friendly, offering numerous advice and stories. Thanks to them. Have a great time.
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Old 08-15-2006   #4
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 536
mtntot, which rapids were you looking for? My last trip down Cat had all the rapids through #29 exposed. 28 & 29 have been exposed just in the last couple years and are the two "new" rapids. #27 (Imperial) was brought out from the silt a year or two before that.

watahwatah, the rapids are as they've said. There's camps both upstream from 10 on the left, or downstream on the right. As for other camps, Brown Betty is a beaut - and you can hike the Dolls House from there. If that's taken, there's a couple beaches river left above #1 and you can ferry to the other side of the river for the hike if you don't want to stay at Spanish Bottom. Below #29 there were only two beaches on my last trip, both on the right. One just a touch above Dark Canyon, and the other at Sheep Canyon. All the other camps were on mud flats (the emphasis being on the mud, not on the flat part of that), although I would love to hear if that has changed. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2006   #5
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 58

Ooops! I thought the "new" rapids were newer than the map. My map, however, was up to date and already included the "new" rapids everyone was speaking of.
mountaincrash is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-18-2006   #6
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 137
does anyone know how fast the flat is? how many miles could I expect to cover in a day with a very competent crew @ 6k?

any beta appreciated.
tony is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-18-2006   #7
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 536
Depends on what your definition of a "day" is. Above the confluence the river rambles along at around 2 miles per hour, then factor in headwinds and it's easier to go upstream in some places. If you're keeping the blades in the water all day and are putting in decent hours you can make it to Spanish Bottom by the second night. If you start at the crack of noon and then work on your tan it might take a bit longer. If you shove off the ramp at dawn and are really pushing it you could probably make it below the confluence in one day - if the wind doesn't get crazy. I'd hate to be on the oars for that pull though... 5-day commercial oar trips at low water spend their second night on the flat, thrid in the rapids, and fourth on the run out. Or they sell a 6-day if they can.

Add an outboard motor and you can be mixing margaritas at Brown Betty the first night, if you have the option. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2006   #8
Grand Junction, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 58

The oar boat that I met up with on the last trip did it in five days, taking a leisurely pace. I spent six days on the river, two days joining up with a motor group, then completed the rest of the trip using oars. If weather cooperates, you can hold a good pace floating for 95% of the distance, with the major exception being the last 8 miles or so. I honestly did not pay attention to the flow of the first part of the river, as I was busy doing other things! Have a great trip!
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Old 08-19-2006   #9
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 8
Who did you hook up with on your first 2 days? Do you have a blue boat and were meeting a group from Glenwood? Just curious to see if it was with our group. If it is you it would be nice to get your info. Do you remember your first two float days on the river? I barely do. Chunderdome, Tiki Lounge, Pirate Day etc... Ring a bell? We left the main group and motored out on Thursday in a Zodiac passing Dark Canyon around 8pm.

If anyone is still interested in information on Cataract I am happy to pass some info on. Let me know.
AJI is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-23-2006   #10
Colorado Springs Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 254
We just got off of Cat on Saturday. There were just 3 of us and we did it self-supported in IK's. We paddled easily on the flats and averaged 4 mph. We did 5 1/2 days (put on at 3:30 on the 14th) with a layover day at Dark Canyon. We had a couple of long mileage days (25+ miles) but it didn't seem bad and we still hiked the Doll House, etc.

The water has a "big" class 3 feel. Very fun, especially the "new" rapids below the big drops. As one post said, make sure you know your entry point into big drop #3 if you choose the left side. It's the only one that I thought might hit class 4. I thought I had the line down but was too far right and my back is still sore from the beating I took. Been a long time since I screwed one up like that.

Looking at #20 isn't a bad idea either.

Below the rapids there is good current all the way to the takeout.

Keep your eye out for the fresh water spring right after Rockfall canyon. There's also one just downstream of Dark Canyon on river left. You could easily paddle back up to Dark from there if you were camping or hiking there. Dark was running red when we were there from recent flooding.

Have fun!
Mike Hartley is offline   Reply With Quote

cataract, cataract canyon

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