We floated the Green River from Green River town to Mineral Bottom from 02 August through 07 August 2009. We had a leisurely float, as the Green River seems to provide at this time of year. Paddling was not optional, and, as usual, we could have used more time. We can always use more time in Utah! River flows were just under 3000 CFS, and the weather was rather cool, in the 80’s each day. The usual crazy winds blew up river each afternoon, but died out in time for dinner. The moon wasn’t full till the day after we took out, but it was full enough that we enjoyed the nights on our sandbar camps without flashlights.
We put in above the bridge in Green River on Sunday afternoon. It is an easy place to put in, with plenty of room and good shade under some big cottonwoods if you rig early enough in the day. We left the Land Cruiser in the parking lot at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum. The signs there say “No Overnight Parking”, but if you let them know your plans in the museum, leaving vehicle information and your float dates, your vehicle is okay there. You can leave your permit with them as well- they are an authorised permit issuer for the river.
The permit for this section of river is free and there is no lottery for it, just download the PDF from the BLM website, fill out a copy for the BLM and one to take on the river. If you plan to float on into Canyonlands National Park, there is a charge and the logistics get more complex. See the Floating the Lower Green River page at the Desert Explorer website for more information. You can also park, leave your permit, and put in at Green River State park, about half a mile down river. It will cost five dollars to get in, and roughly about 20 dollars for a week of parking.
Make sure you allow enough time in your itinerary to visit the museum, at least an hour or so. Do it before your float if you can, and the river will be all the more interesting as you float along and see the same scenery that the Major and his party experienced back in 1869.
There is only one market in Green River, the Melon Vine Food Store, near the west end of town. They are closed on Sunday. There are many gas station convenience stores for last minute drinks and ice. Water can be found at a couple of the gas stations as well as in the picnic area at the River History Museum. It used to be available a the park in the center of town, but there is only a drinking fountain there now.
During our float, we camped on sandbars most nights, but opted to camp at Crystal Geyser on our first night. We fully expected company, and we had it. Crystal Geyser is a popular place, easily accessible by about any kind of vehicle. The geyser does not really have a set eruption schedule, but does go off every 12 to 14 hours or so.
According to Kelsey’s River Guide to Canyonlands National Park and Vicinity, in 1991 the geyser shot as high as 30 meters (about 90 feet). We witnessed two distinct eruptions reaching maybe 25 or 30 feet in the air, about 12 hours apart. But the geyser was active nearly the entire time were there, a total of about 16 hours- the geyser was amazing and we didn’t want to leave it. We all walked through the cold water again and again and came away with orange-stained toe nails and feet from the minerals in the water.
We noticed brown tamarisk from the beginning of our float on. The tamarisk beetles have made their way along the Green. I do not recall them being so far up river two years back. At Crystal Geyser spiders have taken advantage of the dead tamarisk and moved in. There were hundreds of them thriving in the denuded tamarisk branches. I can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the next phase of the problem, the domino effect that usually occurs when we mess with the natural order of things? An infestation of giant river spiders? For more on tamarisk beetles and the tamarisk problem, see the Desert Explorer Tamarisk Beetle page.
There is much to see all along the river, more than can be covered in one blog post. Kelsey’s river guide, aside from informing about the actual floating, tells the history of the river, the ranches, cowboys, boats, mining, and archaeology all along the river corridor. It is an indispensable guidebook and is highly recommended.
A few of the highlights include Crystal Geyser, Dellenbaugh Butte, Trin Alcove Bend, Bowknot Bend, Ruby Ranch, the Julien and Launch Marguerite inscriptions, the river register, various cabins, water wheels, and mineing debris.
We floated in our Aire two-person inflatable kayaks, but canoes seem to be the more popular craft on the river. The kayaks are a bit slow and require a bit more energy to paddle. We reached Mineral Bottom about mid-day on our final day, along with 4 other groups who we saw on and off along the way. The Green River is a popular float and a great choice for calm, family river trip.