Canoeing the Green River

August 2017

Ruby Ranch

Mineral Bottom​

45 Miles

3 Days

None 🌠

Canoeing the Green River is such an amazing experience. We highly recommend you add it to your bucket list!

You can either choose a guided tour or, if you feel more adventurous as we did, go at it on your own. If you prefer the latter option, just consider and remember that:

  • as much as you’re far from the dry season as much as it is needed to have some kind of canoeing or kayaking skills beforehand.
  • you’ll have to do everything in autonomy, starting from guiding yourself through the river and the canyon – you need to be able to read maps and use a compass or a GPS tracker.
  • Turn after turn, you’ll have to understand where you are to adapt your rhythm and reach your destination on due date

Like for a mountain trip, and even if you’re not preparing for the Everest of the rivers. You must know and respect basic rules. 

Even for a summer quiet trip you can either practice with someone expert, or take a class or two: you don’t need to be a pro, just don’t be completely unaware of what you’re going to do.

About orientation, don’t understemate it. Yes it is a canyon, yes there are no thousands of crosses… but remember you have no additionnal geographical landmark. You can easily get confused !

If you need to be convinced, read this incident report where competent paddlers ended in Class III rapids, 31 Miles after where they were supposed to stop…

Preparing your Green River adventure

The itinerary

To canoe the Green River you can pick within 6 main options in terms of itinerary. They vary regarding how “deep” in the canyon they are and how long you want to be out. 

Remember that Ruby Ranch is a private property, if you get in or out (both would be strange !) from there, you need to pay for a small fee.

  • Green River State Park – Ruby Ranch = 23 miles/2+ days
  • Green River State Park – Mineral Bottom = 68 miles/4+ days
  • Green River State Park – The Confluence = 120 miles/7+ days
  • Ruby Ranch – Mineral Bottom = 45 miles/3+ days  (the one we did)
  • Ruby Ranch – The Confluence = 97 miles/5+ days
  • Mineral Bottom – The Confluence = 52 miles/3+ days

Whatever option you pick, don’t be in a rush. Take the time to arrive in Moab the day before and, if possible, leave the area the day after your trip. You’ll be exhausted from your journey when you’re done; you don’t want to lose the the sense of relaxation you got from canoeing the Green River too soon!

Finding a rental company

Unless you come with your own canoeing gear, you’ll have to browse through the different companies in Moab that offer self guided or guided trips.

After doing some research, we picked Moab Rafting and Canoe Company.

Kevin and Lisa were wonderful in helping us pick the best gear for our needs, and were extremely attentive, helpful and straightforward during the whole process.

We found Kevin and Lisa’s story to be beautiful. Originally from Chicago, they used to go on river trips as clients this very shop for years. Eventually, after the owner retired they had the opportunity to leave the craziness of the classic “office life in big cities” and took over the business !

Gearing up

So now you do have an itinerary, and you do have your own canoe or decided to rent one. The particular thing for that canoe trip might be the concentration of mosquitoes for who isn’t used to it. Well, can be boring, but once you think you don’t have other options, you deal with it.
About safety gear you should seriously consider, ALL SUN PROTECTIONS. We never repeat it enough, getting cold is anoying, having an heatstroke can let you on the side of the canyon road. Don’t hesitate to have a look at our personal safety kit.

Day 1 - Starting from Ruby Ranch

The first day we met at the Moab Rafting and Canoe Company shop in Moab, finished up all our paperwork, and went over the river map (we purchased it directly from them) and possible camps and hikes. 

Being able to follow the map is imperative, as there are neither river markers nor mileage designations along the way. 

Kevin drove us to our launch site at Ruby Ranch which is the begining of the Canyon section (as between Green River and Ruby Ranch the canyon isn’t really deep).

The river is quiet, and you suddenly get its mood (and also the mud !), curve after curve.

We decided to paddle quite a lot on that first day, to have time for the main hike on the second day.

When time to rest arrived, we tried to stop at one spot to see if it was possible to settle for the night. 
There are no designated campgrounds, so follow your feelings !
Unfortunately someone had the same as ours! 😂 And we were quite unlucky as we almost saw…. nobody in 3 days except for that time !

But then we finally found a proper place to dock and sleep for the night.

Day 2 - Hiking the Bowknot Bend

Since we had some extra time on our second day, having already paddled A LOT and being ahead of schedule, we went for the little hike up to the Bowknot Bend. We docked our canoe and walked up the canyon. The view was stunning!

For the 2nd night, we decided to find an Island to spend the night.

It was easier to dock, and much more space to unpack !

Each night you need to unpack at least a part of your stuff, for example your river toilet! This nice system that let you have something close to a classic toilet, without spoiling the river as you keep everything with you 😎

Day 3 - Ending in Mineral Bottom

The last day we took it easy. 
After a nice breakfast on our little island, we packed everything up and headed towards Mineral Bottom.
The paddle wasn’t too long, we had maybe two hours left. 

Docking wasn’t super easy for Manu, let’s say she doesn’t really have a natural talent for paddling!
But eventually, with the help of two rangers who happened to be there to help some fellow paddlers, we made it way ahead of schedule!

When we prepared the trip, Kevin explained to us that if we didn’t make it for our pick-up scheduled time at Mineral Bottom in 72 hours he would send out Search and Rescue… it’s very important to follow rules and be careful – that’s why eventually we got to Mineral Bottom 3 hours earlier at the end of our trip 😀

Epilogue

Canoeing the Green River is a wonderful although exhausting experience ! 

Maybe a bit too short and the dry season made access to some part of the canyon quite tricky.

We would do it again for sure !

And after three full days in the wild we felt like we need to treat ourselves with a nice shower and a proper meal. We ended up staying at the nearby River Terrace in Green River, UT, and went for a big, fat, cheeseburger at the renowned Ray’s Tavern.

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