I think it is quite nice class 2 -3 float. It is very pretty and had a few nice waves at around 1000 I think. I have been there only twice and as far as whitewater goes is a bout as interesting as the Yampah, Ledore get. There is a campground at the end and for as much driving as you have to do to get there you should camp out and make a weekend of it. The quarry and other nature trails at the take out are nice as well.
I've never done Split Mountain by itself, only at the end of a few Lodore trips but I remember that its pretty good, has great scenery, and some fun Class III rapids. The rapids can be pretty boney at low water after the Yampa's finished running but its still worthwhile. I've heard of folks doing back-to-back runs over a weekend and would recommend it if you're going to be out in the area - otherwise its a long drive for a little boating.
I second what Peter says about the nature trails and quarry. The petroglyphs near the quarry are definitely worthwhile to check out. Western Whitewater says that there's a hot spring 100 yds up Mitten Canyon, about halfway down the run, but in 100 degree heat, I've never been incluned to stop and soak.
According to WW, the main rapids are Moonshine (III), SOB (III-), Schoolboy (II+, runs you into a wall on river left), and Inglesby (III) with a few others. See Western Whitewater for the details.
You may want to find a place other than the Split Mt. campground to stay at. I remember being disappointed with the place and overrun with ants. Then again, it could just be that I was dealing with post-takeout depression and was used to the pristine campsites on Lodore...
Drop me a line if you get a Lodore or Yampa permit and I'll be happy to round up a few more rubbermen to carry beer and gear.
PS - Great photo you posted of the raft going over the falls! I have to agree with the title, "wrong equipment" - its obvious those guys should all be wearing parachutes.
I ran the split mountain section last year in October. I thought the run was ok, and that's about it. In order to run it, you must comply with Dinosaur National Monument regulations which include charging a $35 day use fee and you might even have to pay more money on top of that. I can't remember. The regulations are the most stringent of any place I have ever boated and I personally don't think the trip is worth it unless you plan to boat through on the Green or Yampa rivers for a week. The rapids wern't very challenging at low water.
My husband and I did it with about 8 other people in October. It was beautiful. It is not a destination trip for boaters just looking for thrills and play opportunities, though there were a couple of spots that the play boaters in our group spun a few.
I dig exploring and river running so I enjoyed it immensley. I kept looking up and imagining the one-armed man climbing the canyon wall. I imagined the Powell expedition coming through in tank boats, no life jackets, at spring run-off with no dams.
It doesn't see much sun. I was kinda chilly at 70 degrees. I personally liked the campground. We stayed at the first one, in a group site. Didn't notice any ants in October. It was a full-moon weekend and the moon shown spectacularily on the white, canyon walls.
Have fun. I think its one of those must-due, historic, exploration-type trips, LOL. One cool thing is that I didn't notice any human tracks on the sandy beaches, except for the ones I made on the way to an obscure bush. Another awesome thing is absolutely no trash of any kind.
Having done Split Mtn more times than I can count in the past 15 years, here's the Beta. If you go during high water when the Yampa is flowing (May/June) you catch it at a fun time. It is quite fun above 10,000 cfs with great waves and some big holes as well. The higher it gets, the bigger and more continuous the action is. Moonshine is awesome above 16,000 with BIG standing waves. We caught it once around 22,000 cfs and it was killer. I've seen rafts flip in Moonshine at high water and go all the way through SOB before they are caught. Pretty much just aim down the middle of everything and hang on.
At lower flows, (down to 2000) it is a bit more technical but still a great run. Too bad it isn't longer. At late summer flows when the Yampa is done (i.e. 800-1200 cfs depending upon Lodore) the run is pretty mellow, lots of rock dodging, and fairly slow. Pretty easy in a raft or kayak. There are still some playspots, especially in the new low volume kayaks.
Basically I wouldn't go all the way out there for just a Split Mtn. day run but if you combined it with other stuff it's worth it. Hope this helps.
Cheers and Happy New Year (almost)!
P.S. Hey Andy - hope things are going well with you. Let's hit the Ark again at 3200 this summer, hopefully.
I lived in Rangely for a couple of years and ran Split Mountain quite a few times since it was close. In my opinion it is a very under-rated run in the Colorado kayaking community. At moderate flow levels (2500 cfs to 7000 cfs? - I never ran it above that) it was a scenic but boaring run. In my opinion there are no interesting rapids on the run. However, at low flows it actually has some pretty good play.
I would recommend running it at levels of 1110 cfs and lower. The reason I say this is because the one really good play spot looses eddy service at this level. This hole is about 1/4 mile above the warm springs were the river runs along a large limestone wall on the right side. At 1200 cfs I could not paddle back into the hole, and one time I ran it at 1110 cfs and could just barely make it back in. At lower levels it is easier, but the hole is more fun with more water. Of course at higher flows (say around 3000 cfs up) this hole is probably something most people would want to stay away from.
In general I would recommend running Split Mountain at the lower levels. These levels only happen late in the season when there is not much else to boat anyway. It is a very scenic canyon, you usually see wildlife, and if you like play boating you can have a good time. Furthermore, I never had any trouble getting a permit when the water levels were way low.
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