Destination: The Green River’s Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons

A gorgeous flatwater float through the heart of canyon country in Utah

Slow your roll: A family river trip in canyon country. Photo by Adam Elliott. Green River
Slow your roll: A family river trip in canyon country. Photo by Adam Elliott

Most of the Southwest's canyon floats involve serious whitewater. What makes this section of the Green River perfect for sinking into “River Time” is that it dives deep into that rock-wall dimension, but the current stays benign the entire route, a no-brainer for open canoes or touring kayaks. The other draw is that the potential for world-class desert hiking is endless. Slickrock, layers of cross-bedded sandstone, wind-eroded pinnacles, tortuous side slots, petroglyphs and ruins … Water Canyon, Upheaval Dome. Go in the fall when the water is low, insects unlikely and temperatures moderate. Sandbars for camping abound, and as long as your food holds out you can follow whims that lead away from the river into the magic of canyon country. It could take weeks.

Several put-in/takeout options allow for customizing the itinerary. Ruby Ranch downstream from the town of Green River chops off 23 miles of private land above Labyrinth Canyon, and Mineral Bottom separates Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons, shortening the float and providing road access. If possible, float the whole enchilada to the Colorado, and allow time to hike the Doll's House/ Maze region from Spanish Bottom before pickup. Want to really push the envelope? Take on the upstream paddle on the Colorado River to Moab. If that doesn't win you River Time, nothing will.

Beta:
-120 miles
-7 days (more with hiking)
-Flatwater to Class I riffles
-Prime time is Sept. and Oct.

Info: nps.gov

–Check out MORE STUNNING PADDLING DESTINATIONS from Canoe & Kayak.