Colorado is our home state, and it is one of the BEST places to see fall colors. Even though we both grew up in Colorado, and we've each seen 20+ Colorado falls already in our lives, this year we got extreme FOMO by having been away from Colorado the past three years during its prime fall season. In our three years of full timing, we've screwed up our fall plans 3/3 years. By this, ...
In July we joined our mini boat friends Dan and Shannon, and their friend Dave, for a two night camp trip off the boats on the Colorado River through Canyonlands. We started at the Potash plant outside of Moab, and over a three day period, drove the boats 50 miles downriver to the Green River Confluence, and a few extra miles up the Greenriver, and then back up river to the cars. We found two different camp spots on the way down river, right on the sandy banks of the Colorado River, and set up tents and an outdoor kitchen. We turned off the engines to the boats for several miles down river, threw tubes in the water and just floated our way down. This section of the Colorado River goes through Canyonlands National Park and feels as remote as it gets. There aren’t any other boat launches until Lake Powell, so any other kayakers/rafters either have to go another 50 miles to Hite, including a stretch of gnarly rapids in the Cataract Canyon, or pay a Jetboat operator out of Moab to pick you up at the confluence and take you back upriver. Luckily since we are in our own jetboats, we got to go down river and back up on our own terms. Because it’s so remote, and because we went in July when the water was lower, we only saw two other rafters.
Almost the entire stretch of river is surrounded by tall red canyon walls. There are several rock features to look out for, including the Guillotine Arch, and ancient granaries high up in the canyons where native Americans stored their corn and grains. There are also small hikes along the banks of the river to stop for. The first hike we did was a short walk through a dried up tributary looking for one of the granaries. We didn’t actually spot it, I think because the river was so low it threw off our starting point and the directions we were following. But it was still fun to get out of the boats and walk for a bit. The second hike was a “crossover” hike at one of the U-bends in the river. You can start the trail on one side of the U bend, and hike up and over the saddle to the other side of the river bend. The boys dropped off me and Shannon to make the mile hike up and over with a good amount of elevation gain while they drove the boats around.
The third hike was into the Dollhouse in Canyonlands. This starts at Spanish Bottom on the banks of the river, and goes a mile and a half up the side of the canyon gaining 1300 ft elevation, up steep rocky switchbacks, to get to the top of the canyon. The Dollhouse is a remote section of Canyonlands that you can only get to by either this hike from the river, or 70 miles of 4 wheel drive dirt road. Granted it was middle of July and 100 degrees when we went, but we didn’t see a single other person while we were there. We were camped directly across from the trail head in the river banks, but had to start the hike as early as possible to avoid the heat. It was probably 90 degrees by 8 am, and there’s no shade going up the side of the canyon. The views down into the canyon, and walking around the rock formations was totally worth it though. It’s essentially a “dollhouse” of rock formations and hoodoos and slot canyon like “rooms” within the rock walls.
I can say with certainty that this is one of the most unique trips we’ve ever done, with the remoteness and the solitude, and packing everything into the boats for 3 days. To top it off, we got to watch the NEOWISE comet passing through from the middle of nowhere in Utah.