Little Yampa Canyon - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-26-2006   #1
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
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Little Yampa Canyon

Anyone every floated this mellow stretch of the Little Yampa. We are going to be in canoes (in June) and will have some little kids with us.
We are going for the scenery and camping. It is 38 mile stretch running from Craig thru the Little Yampa Canyon on BLM land. Any other scenic stretches that you could recommend would be appreciated as well. Class I-II. Thanks.

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Old 01-26-2006   #2
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
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I have been tempted to float that stretch but never have. It is also known as Duffy canyon and gets a very small write up in both Western Whitewater and the floaters guide to CO. There are NO RAPIDS. they highlight a diversion structure that creates a I+ riffles.

I would love to hear more about it if you or anyone ends up doing it.

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Old 01-26-2006   #3
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Dave and Johnny,

If I'm not mistaken on the stretch of river, I floated it in May at about 17K cfs back in about '95 or '96. We saw news crews out covering the flooding when we were driving out. The canyon is really more rolling hills covered with sagebrush. There's a lot of private land and we probably trespassed when we camped but I'll never know for sure. Its not as scenic as some stretches but you'll have good solitude for a non-permit river run.

After floating that we unloaded all our camping gear and continued through Juniper canyon which was an exciting Class III big water run at that flow. there was a hole across 3/4 of the river that would've swallowed a semi. Entering the canyon we heard high powered rifle shots ringing out and for a second I thought all the Deliverance jokes were about to come home to us. Fortunately we caught their attention and they stopped target shooting while we scouted and ran the rapid.

If you're looking for a good canoe run, consider the White River in Utah taking out at Enron Bridge, I'm not sure what the put-in for that reach is. Its flatwater, has beautiful sandstone canyons and the only drawback is the popularity and abundance of cow pies (nothing like setting up the groover in the middle of cowcrap).

There's also the Colorado from Cisco to Dewey Bridge or down to Hittle Bottom. Ask Zach Baird about the reach between the Gunnison and Loma.

Does anyone know about the stretch from Newcastle through Debuque Canyon above Big Sur?

I hope this helps,

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 01-26-2006   #4
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
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Thanks a lot....I will look into the other sections you mentioned. I think that the stretch I am concerned with is mostly BLM land and that camping is legal. You are right that you do not need a permit. I think it will be a lot of fun...especially since my son will only be a year and a half at the time we run it. No rapids will make for a good first run. I think he and the other girl will really enjoy the whole experience, especially with an overnight stay. Thanks again.
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Old 01-26-2006   #5
Join Date: Apr 2004
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yeah, my girl and i floated from craig to maybell a few years ago. it is definately all flat, until you get to juniper canyon. i wouldn't recommend taking kids thru there on canoes, personally (juniper canyon that is). however, we did portage on the right around the "big" drop. there is a nice takeout/putin before the rapids at a state park...the juniper canyon section looked pretty III ish. the rest of it was very uneventfull.

if i were you, though, i might consider the white or colorado as mentioned above as i didn't find this section too pretty. we also probably did camp in private, but much land isn't really marked one way or another. there are some "no camping" signs along the way.

i think that in that 3 days, i saw more dead cows than i have in my life. even one that looked like it got hung up on a barbed wire fence, and must have died while snagged on that fence, on the cutback down to the river. poor thing. not trying to put a damper on your trip, but there was just a lot of ranchland....

have fun - S
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Old 01-26-2006   #6
Denver via GJ, Colorado
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I would bet your aware of this, but will say it anyways. I have heard that northern CO has had solid snowfall this year, so things could be different than typical. I am not sure what drainages feed the little Yampa area, but unless its late June things could be fairly high and fast
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Old 01-26-2006   #7
Join Date: Nov 2005
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The good place for this info is

Is Juniper Canyon Cross Mountain Gorge? That varies a lot by flow. Above 2000 cfs, it's class IV with holes and definite swimmer pin spots. At much higher flows, I bet it's really scary with all the big rocks in there.
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Old 01-26-2006   #8
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
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Cross is below all of these and is an entirely different animal. That being said, cross has a long flat water lead in after wich you would be rather comitted. I cant imagine the take out being hard to spot, unless you blew it as you set up shuttle....
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Old 01-27-2006   #9
on your sister, ...
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yeah, i filled my shorts when I first saw that rapid in Juniper! It was this totally understated 1 line in the guidebook. I felt pretty sandbagged. I chose that stretch cuz I wanted something easy for a solo trip. Man, I scouted that thing for 30+ minutes top to bottom. Great fun but not something I wanted to run alone!

Not for kids in a canoe. You would swamp a canoe w/o lots of floatation. Big waves after the big drop for 1/8 mile.
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