Dirty Devil River Float- Itinerary, Equipment, Logistics

The time for the first trip of the summer is nearly here. I will float the Dirty Devil River from about 14 May till about 27 May, giving me roughly about two weeks on the river. The float is only about 80 miles and can be done in much less time; 8 to 10 days would be sufficient. But I have plans to explore at least 6 or 8 of the canyons draining into the river. I’ll do 4 or 5 dayhikes, maybe more, and at least 2 or 3 overnights in the longer canyons. I have been studying the maps, but haven’t really decided yet which to explore. I will most likely choose them at the last minute, when I am standing at the mouth of the canyon looking up into it. I am considering mostly those draining from the east for overnights: Robbers Roost Canyon, No Mans Canyon, Larry Canyon, Twin Corral Box Canyon, Sams Mesa Box Canyon and Happy Canyon. There are plenty of choices!

I will need at least 9- 1:24,000 mapsheets for the float and hiking, possibly as many as 12 depending on how far upcanyon I choose to go. I will start with the 9 mapsheets that cover the river- I am picking those up next week- and decide then if I need others.

I have begun packing for the trip. As I am going solo, there will be a good size pile of gear and food. I like to pack early, then re-pack about a week out, then do a final packing a day or two before heading out. This allows me to really see what I am thinking about bringing along, and gives me plenty of chances to leave gear behind that I won’t need as well as plenty of chances to make sure nothing is left behind. Since I am hiking and backpacking on this float trip, I will need to cater my packing list to cover all three activities. This leaves plenty of room for overpacking, not something I want to do on a shallow river such as the Dirty Devil. From all accounts I have found so far, there will be enough dragging of the boat across sandbars as it is, without adding un-needed weight to the boat.

I have tentatively scheduled a shuttle with Tag-A-Long Expeditions in Moab. the shuttle will cost 50 dollars. They will meet me at the takeout near Hite Marina on 14 May. I will leave my truck there and they will drop me at one of the two bridges where the Dirty Devil meets the highway near Hanksville. I have not decided yet if that will be west of Hanksville, or north. On my way to the takeout near Hite I will recon both possible put-ins and make that decision.

Besides exploring the river and hiking and backpacking up the side canyons, I will be on the lookout for ruins and rock art to photograph. I also plan, as usual, to work on my primitive skills. Although it will be early in the season, I will be searching for edible plants. I have a list of plant parts to try this year, including cattail pollen and the young, spring shoots.

Visit the Desert Explorer website for more details on this and other desert topics.


4 Responses to Dirty Devil River Float- Itinerary, Equipment, Logistics

  1. Brian says:

    Looking to arrange shuttle for the Dirty Devil — Tag a long claims they don’t drive the shuttle. Do you know who you spoke with? Or have any other recommendations for shuttle?

    • Hi Brian,
      I don’t remember who I spoke to- it was a while ago. But in the end it did not happen. They were planning to pick up a group who had run Cataract Canyon at Hite and were just going to shuttle me back up near town as they headed back to Moab. That trip fell through and I made other plans after that. So they really don’t have a shuttle service for the Dirty Devil, it was more luck on my part for hitting it on the right day where they could fit me in, which did not work out in the end. I ended up just leaving my gear at the takeout, walking down the road to the highway, and hitching back from the DD bridge after my float to my truck, which I left at the BLM office in Hanksville. It works out really well if you don’t mind a little walk (or run) in the beginning and the hitch in the end. It was super easy to get a ride back to the BLM office from the DD bridge at Hite by the way. In case you haven’t read my web page about it, more info is at the Desert Explorer website. Also see follow-up blog posts. Hope this helps, feel free to email me back with more questions. Have a great float!

  2. kevin says:

    Sounds like a great trip. I am planning on running the DD at the end of this May. There will most likely be 5-6 of us with two vehicles. We were planning on taking out at Poison Spring road to avoid the paddle accross the lake.

    I have two questions:
    What was the water level like when you ran it and what would you estimate this years level based on snowpack?

    Any tips for shuttle? We were planning on leaving a truck near the river at Poison Spring. Any issues with break ins that you have heard of?

    Any other info would be great.


    Kevin Mokracek

    • Hi Kevin,
      When I ran it in the last two weeks of may it was low, about 10 CFS. But it was still doable for me. The best part was farther down river, past Poison Spring Canyon. I had a couple of stormy days at that point and the water was up to about 100 CFS for a day or two, and the floating was good then. The upper part was a drag- literally. It was great fun, interesting, challenging, but I was dragging my boat for most of the first couple of days. You may be doing the same at that time of the year.
      As for Poison Spring road, I have never heard of any break-ins there, nor anywhere else in the area, accepting the lake maybe. My guess is you will be perfectly safe. You can drive all the way to the river on that road, right up to the gauging station, which might be where you want to leave your second vehicle.
      I am not sure if you have looked over my web page or other blog posts regarding the float. I have had, and answered, lots and lots of comments about the float. So has Frank, who has run the whole thing a couple of times, and paddled up from Hite. The web page is here. There are links on the web page to the blog posts.
      Feel free to email with any more questions you might have after looking it all over.
      Have fun,

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