Labyrinth or Stillwater? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-24-2018   #1
SLC, Utah
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 77
Labyrinth or Stillwater?

For those lucky enough to have done both, I'm curious what your opinions would be about doing Labyrinth or Stillwater canyons.
Looking to go all in for the 55th bd in May. Even considering the jetboat shuttle.
So which canyon is prettier (I know they're both magnificent)? Which has better camping? Easier logistics? For Labyrinth, I would prolly put in at Ruby. Anything you can tell me is appreciated.

And believe me, I would love to do both. But some of us still have to work for a living...

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Old 12-24-2018   #2
mattman's Avatar
Tabernash, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,901
It sounds like you are canoeing, since you mention a jet boat ride? Labyrinth is awesome, but it only seems to get better, as it turns into Stillwater canyon, somewhere after the Mineral Bottom boat ramp, which will be your last vehicle access to take out before Cataract canyon. Of course you can always arrange a jet boat out from Spanish Bottom, provided you are in something like a canoe or sea kayak (Rafts cost a fortune, and have to be de-rigged.)

Labyrinth is easier Logistics maybe, because you can drive in and out, both have nice camps, but especially Labyrinth tends towards them being high water, and up steeper banks. Avoid Memorial day week end, unless you like the busy party seen, since there is the annual motorized friend ship cruise from Green River, down to the confluence, and up to Moab.
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Old 12-24-2018   #3
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 406
Friendship Cruise hasn't run for years, believe the organizers (in Green River) may have lost interest permanently.
Stillwater is more "dramatic" while Labyrinth more "open" with less verticality. BLM permit for Labyrinth, NPS for Stillwater. Both great floats, about equal length. In a canoe you should have no problem making miles with early starts , small raft with motor would eliminate any concerns (wind) and allow more room for cooler(s), beer, etc. You still need groover, firepan, etc.
Back in the 80's/early 90's there was a guy who ran a Grumman down Cat every fall,
sans permit. I saw him once dragging it over rocks on left side of BD3, NPS was aware but made no concerted effort to catch him. At 5k or below I'd be tempted to OC it, but not in a Grumman...
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Old 12-24-2018   #4
SLC, Utah
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 77
Great info.
Thanks guys
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Old 12-24-2018   #5
mattman's Avatar
Tabernash, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 1,901
Double check with Ruby before you get to far along in planning, if you Launch there, since at least they used to not allow launches on Sunday. Also, checking conditions in advance for the Mineral Bottom road before launch, is always a good idea. It can be prone to rock slides some times, and can be down right terrifying to drive down if it is muddy. People I know that have driven it when wet, talk about conditions comparable to greased owl shit, and it switch backs down a cliff side. I love driving it when dry, but it kinda scares some people, such as my mother....
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Old 12-25-2018   #6
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,863
We did the Green side couple years ago first of Sept. Put in Ruby Ranch and we pre positioned a truck loaded with resupply stuff at Mineral. Took out just below the Confluence. We did it in canoes with one SOAR 16 to carry the kitchen. The SOAR did just great no problems keeping up. Just awesome sandbar camping. We did the Jet Boat ride back up the Colorado River side and one awesome way to finish up the trip back to Moab. We stayed in Moab that night and relaxed. We used Tex for the entire shuttle and they were great. Show up at their office in moab, load gear on their trailer, trucks parked in their locked lot, go to put in. They came by Spanish Bottoms to check on us afternoon before pickup as we got there pretty early and hiked, next morning Jet Boat pickup and ride up river. Bus ride back to Moab, trucks waiting in parking lot, unload the gear and off to the motel. Not cheap but worth every dollar as this was the easiest long trip for me maybe ever.
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Old 12-26-2018   #7
SLC, Utah
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 77
That's awesome, Okie.
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Old 12-28-2018   #8
Half Moon Bay, California
Paddling Since: '82
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 38
You can't go wrong with either labyrinth or still water canyons its just a question of how much money you will spend. logistics have been well presented above. you can drive from both ends of labyrinth canyon at ruby ranch to put in or put in at crystal geyser if you want a longer trip to the mineral bottom take out . Or you can put in at mineral bottom go through stillwater canyon and jet boat back to moab from the confluence with an outfitter. Tex's river expeditions and tagalong river expeditions do jet boat shuttles.

As for the friendship cruise there are still a group of folks that do the memorial day weekend run from Green river to Moab just because they can. It's not organized but it still goes on. Have a good trip and Happy B-Day.
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Old 12-29-2018   #9
CRG, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 30
As noted previously both sections are great, either makes for a great trip.
If you only have time for one I would lean toward Stillwater (Mineral Bottom to confluence); the jet boat shuttle is a fun punctuation to the trip.
We have done several trip in May and had Tex's handle the shuttle to and from and makes the logistics quite simple (but good to reserve your dates with them well in advance)
One comment I would make about floating in the spring is that there is not much in the way of sandbar camping and depending on spring run off and fluctuations, things can be downright muddy.
I would review some guidebooks and trip reports ahead of time for camps since many are not obvious from river level.
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Old 12-30-2018   #10
The white room., Utah
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 35
Done both many times. Better ruins and hiking on Stillwater.
Also better camps in my opinion, even though Labrynth has
good camps. As well there is an easy accessed slot at Anderson bottom.
Leave a cooler with the jet boat people too....

One Stillwater trip had a ranger pass though our camp. I sent a message with the ranger to Tex's to see if they could pick us up a birthday cake and bring on
the jet boat. They did. Good times, great service!
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