you need to get a permit from the dinosaur national park. They are lottery based and need to be there by the end of this month. I have not run it but it is multi -day class III, usually done with raft support. I imagine everything is very straight forward unless you're lucky enough to catch it really big.
Dave's correct about the permits and the water. They're also very hard to get with about a 1 in 20 probability of being drawn for your $15 registration fee. The drive is about 6 hours from the Front Range, the river can be run in about 3 or 4 days, and Split Mountain can be run as a day trip. There was a thread on Split Mt. on the Buzz a couple of weeks ago: http://mountainbuzz.com/viewtopic.php?t=303
I'll be happy to talk to you about rowing your gear and beer if you get a permit!
I've paddled it in a whitewater canoe three times and have done Split Mt. section about half dozen times in a open boat. I've gotten day permits for Split, which are easy to get and you can use your $15.00 application fee for the Lordore permit (if you don't get one) to go towards the Split Mt. run. Not only is the Lordore trip beautiful but it is way, way fun. Rapid after rapid. There is a long flat water section towards the end, good time to drink beer. There are a couple of long class III rapids, you wouldn't want to swim in from the top and one class IV drop that I've always walked around with my canoe. It's the only part I've portaged. I've always had raft suport, so my canoe was just filled with floatation. The permits are real hard to get, I've done it with a outdoor school I used to work for, on what they called a training trip. In Utah, you need to run the section of river if you are to guide it. I no longer work for the school, so I put my permit application in last week and keeping my fingers crossed. Split Mt. is a long drive from the front range, for seven miles of river, unless you intend to do it a couple of times and maybe go down to Dutch John and run little hole which is also beautiful and fun, plus no permit necessary. Also the area around Split is a great place to camp, bike, explore and BBQ. If you have any other questions feel free to e-mail me and if you get a permit and I don't, and want a canoest along, and you have a raft with room for my gear, give me a call!!
The rapids are nothing to worry about on this run. Your main worries are permitting, as already mentioned, and logistics. The shuttle is loooonnnngggg. What can I say about the one time I did the Lodore section??? the water was medium flow, the camping was awesome, fishing was good, bring a lot of beer(raft support needed for the beer and toilet system), rangers are very strict on toilet issue, definitely a classic stretch of water, beautiful canyon, great hikes, and petroglyphs. As for adrenaline, not too likely to overdose on this section. However, the coolest part of my trip was the shuttle back. We chartered planes out of the local airport, it was actually really cost effective if you consider your time valuable. The flight followed the canyon back upstream, we almost hit an eagle soaring(that could have ended the trip), and the main adrenaline rush of the trip came upon landing on the put-in road. Good luck!!! It was worth all the logistical headaches but takes more planning than grabbing your boat, bivy sac and power bars.
"...camping was awesome, fishing was good, bring a lot of beer(raft support needed for the beer and toilet system), rangers are very strict on toilet issue, definitely a classic stretch of water, beautiful canyon, great hikes, and petroglyphs. As for adrenaline, not too likely to overdose on this section...."
Tim's got it pegged. There's also the regular ground shuttle - just leave the cars and they're waiting for you at the take out. Its worth the cost to have your vehicles shuttled - averaging 3 people per vehicle, each person throws in about $35 or $40 to avoid spending 7 hrs at the start, then 7 at the takeout waiting to see a dust cloud in the distance.
Be careful about the shuttle service. I've had good luck personally with River Runners but have heard horror stories about them and worse about the other service that runs the route. There was a long thread on the GCPBA listserve last year about the shuttle services out there and some less than flattering things were aired. Make sure to write down milage, note gas, etc.
We do the plane shuttle everytime on Lodore. Build the cost into your per person total and it isn't that much at all. Drive out the night before and camp, then have shuttle crew jump in cars first thing in the am and drive all of the cars to the take out. Then fly back over the river with awesome views and land on the road to the put in! When you get back the rafts are loaded and everything is ready to go.
Lodore is great! Ran it 4 years ago as my first river trip in a kayak. Flow was huge - 8500 and rising. A few big holes and Hells 1/2 mile was intimidating, but all fairly straight forward. Good Luck!
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