It's mythical-sounding name is no accident. As you float past the Gates of Lodore into the Canyon of Lodore, you feel as though you've entered another world. What was previously a flat Colorado desert landscape suddenly becomes 2000 foot canyon walls. Your next 4 or 5 days will be filled with gorgeous campsites, exciting whitewater, and a constantly changing landscape (you even enter a new state!). Permits must be obtained through a lottery every December and January .

The Gates of Lodore section starts out in the northwestern corner of Colorado and flows through Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. You'll experience everything from deep, high desert gorges, to the geological chaos of Echo Park and Whirlpool Canyon, to the flat desert plains of eastern Utah.

Trips start from the Lodore Ranger Station. There are two options for takeouts - Rainbow Park or Split Mountain Campground. Taking out at Split Mountain adds 8 miles of fun class III whitewater onto the end of your trip! Much of the whitewater on this section is class III. However, there are three class IV's: Disaster Falls (where the John Wesley Powell expedition lost their first boat), Triplet Falls, and Hell's Half Mile.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Gates of Lodore Campground. Many people show up a day early to spend one night at the Gates of Lodore campground. A short hike downriver to an overlook provides a dramatic view of the gates.

The Gates of Lodore rise out of the Colorado desert.

The Gates of Lodore rise out of the Colorado desert.

Mile 6.5: Upper Disaster Falls. The first class IV of the trip. Named by the John Wesley Powell expedition for a disaster that caused them to lose a boat, along with a large amount of their food and scientific instruments. After boosting their confidence on earlier, easier rapids, the expedition attempted to run Disaster Falls with disastrous consequences.

Mile 8: Pot Creek. A beautiful sandy campsite on river right with lots of hiking opportunities up the creek.

The view upstream from Pot Creek Campsite.

The view upstream from Pot Creek Campsite. Photo by Conor Bell .

Mile 10.8: Triplet Falls. A long left handed turn in the river ends with a large set of waves and holes on river left, and a massive jumble of boulders on river right. Don't underestimate the rivers pull to the right!

Mile 11.5: Hell's Half Mile. Another rapid named by the Powell expedition, for the hellish half-mile portage they decided to undertake after the disaster at Disaster Falls. Enter on the left, but be ready to pull hard to the right to avoid Lucifer's rock. Don't celebrate too early, the shallow boulder field after the initial excitement have caught many boaters unawares.

Mile 12.8: Rippling Brook. Another beautiful sandy river right beach campsite. Hiking up the brook leads to a waterfall that runs most of the year, even if there isn't water at the bottom of the creek.

The beautiful, sandy Rippling Brook campsite.

The beautiful, sandy Rippling Brook campsite. Photo by Conor Bell .

Mile 17.6: Steamboat Rock. A massive, 700 foot tall monolith described by John Wesley Powell in his diary. As you float alongside, shout into the rock for one of the best echos in the world.

Mile 18.2: Confluence of the Green and Yampa. Another Colorado classic river trip, the Yampa River joins the Green River.

Mile 19.0: Echo Park and Whispering Cave. A river access on river left. Hiking up the road a short distance leads to Whispering Cave, a tight crack between two massive rocks. How far back can you go?

Mile 23.9: Border between Colorado and Utah. Welcome to Utah!

Mile 24.6: Jones Hole Creek. A beautiful creek that runs year-round. A trail runs alongside, making for a great escape from the mid-day heat. Swimming holes and jumping rocks are frequent.

Mile 34.3: Rainbow Park boat ramp. The end of the trip for those electing not to continue through Split Mountain, or the beginning of a fun day of whitewater for numerous day-trippers.

Mile 35.7: Split Mountain Canyon. A geological wonder, where a mountain rose out of the earth right underneath the river, and was cut in half by the power of the Green River!

Mile 36.8: S.O.B. Rapids. A collection of fun class 3 rapids. Watch out for the huge rock in the center!

Mile 42.6: Split Mountain campground takeout. The end of the trip! Make sure you visit the Dinosaur National Monument visitors center and quarry on the way out!

Written by
Nick Wright

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