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Mid Oregon Coast

Last night after we set up camp, we had a couple of vans come to camp at the same spot, luckily we were here first. On the way out the next morning, we passed one van. It was parked on the side of the dirt road on a very non-level spot. I don’t know how they slept there.

We left camp just before 9 am and were parked in Cannon Beach by 9:15 am. We parked in town, but then we had about a mile walk along the beach to the Haystack Rock. I think this is the most famous rock on the Oregon coast.

It was a nice walk as the tide had just gone out, so the sand was nice a firm. It was a little foggy and breezy, but it was still a pleasant walk.

We took pictures around the rock. As we walked back to the van, we were glad we came early. We crossed a lot of people on the beach heading to the rock.

We looked around town for a little while and then we were back in the van to head further south along the coast. We stopped at a few of the overlooks and scenic points along the road.

We made it back to Tillamook around lunch time. We planned on stopping at the Tillamook Creamery, updating the blog and eating lunch, but there were no parking spots available. It was completely packed. After circling the parking lot 2 times we decided to go back to Blue Heron French Cheese Company, where we had camped a few nights ago. They have good internet and had the same Tillamook (Monster Cookie) ice cream.

After eating we needed to find a laundromat. We have been gone for 12 days and we ran out of clean clothes a few days ago. There was one in town and were able to fit everything into one load of wash and dry. It has been a long, long, long time since we had used a laundromat. It doesn’t look like anything has changed since then. There was a couple from Ohio that was also traveling. They had taken Amtrack from Ohio to Seattle, and had rented a car to see Washington, Oregon and California.

After laundry, we continued further south. We stopped at Rocky Creek State Park that overlooked the ocean. A lot of people were staring out into the ocean looking for whales. I think I may have seen one, but no one else saw it, so maybe it was a big wave.

Every night around 4-5 pm we start thinking about where to camp. We have an APP on our phones that show different campgrounds that people have stayed. It has a focus on free spots in the woods/deserts. That is how we have found most of our nightly campsites. However, sometimes the sites are either taken, or not a very good site. Other times, the description of the campsite and the path there are not very accurate.

Tonight we had some problems getting a site, but in the end we still ended up at a great spot. We followed the APP to the first two sites we thought would work for us, but at the first the road was gated and the second site was essentially a spot on the side of a hill. We kept going deeper and deeper into the forest. The road got narrower and it got darker. Finally after about 5 miles on a forest road we found a spot at the bottom of a steep hill. The trail is covered in loose shale, so we will probably need 4WD to get up and out of our spot. But it’s still a great spot and we will not have to worry about anyone bothering us.

Eva made Cubed Steak and Gravy using the Instant Pot. It was very good.

The Northern Oregon Coast

The morning was very foggy and quiet so we slept in a bit. Today was going to be a travel day, as we needed to go northwest to get closer to the Oregon coast. We were also going to be leaving the mountains and going to a lower elevation. Yesterday, at the rim of Crater Lake we were at around 8000’, by the end of today, we were at sea level. So it did get a little warmer.

We left the Mill Pond Recreation Area around 10 am and drove west until we joined the interstate at Roseburg. From there we headed north on I-5 to Eugene. We stopped in Eugene to take a shower at one of their rec centers. They will let you shower for $2. I think they allow it so the homeless can get cleaned up.

After showering we drove to the closest LDS church to eat lunch and use the WIFI. I uploaded another blog post and we planned out our next steps. After lunch we stopped at Costco for gas. It was nice to have gas back around $2.65/gal. We were in Eugene for about 3 hours.

From Eugene we drove further north to Salem. From Salem, we left the interstate and followed highway 22 north and west to Tillamook. This was another winding highway through the woods and hills. There were a lot of farms and some dairies along the road, especially as we got close to Tillamook.

We stayed the night at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, in north Tillamook. They allow RVs to stay a night or two in their grassy field, among all their antique vehicles and farm equipment. After we cooked dinner, we went to their store and shared an ice cream cone. This is a popular place to stay, by the time it was dark, there were probably 20 vehicles parked for the night.

It was a nice place to camp. It was pretty quiet, but you could hear the highway a little bit through the night and morning. This morning the animals on the farm started making noise. They have a burro that started hee-hawing around 6:00 in the morning. It was also very foggy and wet this morning.

We left the Blue Heron French Cheese Company early in the morning. We wanted to get to the Tillamook Creamery just as it opened at 8:00 am. We went on the tour, sampled the cheese and browsed the gift shop.

From Tillamook we drove north on highway 101. This highway parallels the coast and bays of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a narrow and curvy road, so you can never go very fast.

Our first stop was Ecola State Park. This had a high cliff overlook above the beach. We took some pictures and walked a few of the trails.

The next stop was Fort Stevens State Park. The first stop was at the black sand beach with the remains of an old shipwreck. We walked the beach and ate lunch. I had to raise the top of the van so the fabric could dry out from the rain the night before.

After lunch we went to the historic fort site of the state park. There were several old fort structures to walk through, and a visitor’s center with a movie about the history of the fort. It is the oldest military structure on the west coast of the US. It was built during the Civil War.

After stopping at Costco for gas we went to the Lewis and Clark Historical National Park. They had a movie about the Lewis and Clark Discovery Expedition and a re-creation of the fort that they spent the winter in.

The next stop was Astoria Oregon. We went to the Astoria Column and climbed the steps to the top to admire the view and take pictures of the Columbia River and the surrounding sites.

Our last stop for the night was the Astoria shoreline boardwalk. Not much was open, but we walked along docks and looked at the ships.

Our next goal was to find a place to camp for the night. The first two spots we had identified were fenced off by the lumber companies. But we found a spot in the forest about 10 miles east of Cannon Beach. It was another dark and quiet spot. We slept well and had another good night.

The Deep Blue Lake

The drive from Lassen National Park to Crater Lake National Park took most of the day. As we woke it was raining a bit, but stopped by the time we left our campsite. Again, we drove on the forested lined highways that are through much of northern California. It was a very beautiful with the thick trees and ferns. However, we are tired of the California gas prices. The price jumped to $3.77/gal in Lake Tahoe, compared to $2.63 in Nevada. While driving north to Crater Lake, we went 5 miles out of our way to save $0.70/gal in a town called Burney, CA. Once we got to Oregon, the prices dropped down to around $2.70/gal again.

We drove north past Mount Shasta, but it was covered in clouds, so we could not see much, but we did get a picture for Zac.

Mount Shasta was covered with clouds, but we did see the tip (we think).

As we got close to Oregon, the forests went away and there were a lot of farms and ranches. We passed huge grain and hay farms, along with some vegetable farms. Closer to Crater Lake we saw a lot of large cattle ranches with huge flat pastures full of grass. The valleys between the hills were very flat and very green.

We stopped for lunch in Klamath Falls, Oregon. We ate lunch at a river front park and then went to Walmart to get more food and WIFI. We were expecting to find a nice park next to the Klamath Falls, but apparently the falls aren’t much to see.

From Klamath Falls it was about an hour drive to Crater LakeNational Park. It was around 5:30 when we got to the park, so the visitor center was closed. But we stopped at the campground store and took showers. They have a very nice set of showers at this park.

After showering we went back out of the park, about a mile, and found another great campsite in the woods next to Annie’s Creek. The creeks and rivers in Northern California and Oregon are very clear. Even at the deepest spots you can see the bottom. I think its because the soils have a lot of sand, not silt. Also the ground is covered by plants and pine needles. When it rains, the water doesn’t pick up a lot of silt or dirt that would cloud up the water.

Eva made Bacon Ranch Chicken in the Instant Pot for dinner. It gets dark and cold around 7:30 pm, so after dinner we stayed in the van and talked and read the rest of the evening.

It was another great night. It wasn’t too cold when we went to bed, but it was cold in the morning. A few nights ago we started using the furnace that I installed in the van. It runs with fuel from the van gas tank. It also has a timer, so I can program it to start in the morning. That helps keeps it from being too cold when we get up. It has worked pretty good.

We stopped at the main visitors center when we got to the park in the morning. Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest US national park. It was founded in 1902. The crater was formed 7,700 years ago, after the volcanic magma flowed out of the caldera beneath the volcanic peak. With no magma, the peak collapsed and created the crater. The crater was filled by rain and snow melt to create the lake. There are no rivers or streams that can bring silt into the lake. So the water is supposedly the cleanest lake water in the US. It is also the deepest lake in the US at 1,943 feet deep.

First we stopped at the Visitors Center and watched the movie about the park. It explained how the lake was formed. From there it is a 3 mile drive to the rim of the crater. This was our first view of the lake. We walked around the edge a bit and took pictures. We considered taking the trolley around the entire rim, but they were sold out.

So we drove Rim Road to the viewpoints. About halfway around we arrived at the Cleetwood Cove Trail. This is the only way to get from the rim, down to the water. We didn’t plan to do the hike, but just to walk down to the first or second switchback to get a better view. But at every switchback we kept going. Finally we accepted that we were going down all the way. The trail is only 1.1 miles each way, but is 700 ft of elevation change. So going down was not bad, but coming back up it was pretty steep.

At the bottom there was a boat dock for the boat rides to Wizard Island. But they ended the boat tours for the summer last week, so we could not go for a ride. We got down to the bottom and Eva soaked her feet in the water. The lake water is the clearest water in the US, with visibility at least 100 feet. There were a few people jumping in the water, but since we did not plan to hike down, so we did not bring our swimsuits.

After about 45 minutes at the bottom, we hiked back up the trail. It was not too bad, but now we were in the sun, so it got a little hot.

After the hike we ate lunch and left the park using the north entrance road. This started us towards the coast of Oregon. On the way we stopped and hiked to Toketee Waterfall. This was only about a 1 mile hike, but it was through a deep, dark and wet forest. It was almost like a rainforest. There were huge trees with moss and ferns growing everywhere.

Near the parking area was a 10 ft diameter wooden flume that carried water to the power plant. It was leaking all over. I am surprised it has not fallen apart, but it has been there for a long time.

We continued down the mountain until we were close to Roseburg, Oregon. We found a campsite at Mill Pond Recreation Area. It was a very nice place with 12 campsites and we were the only ones camped there. We got a camping spot on the river and had camp set up by 4:30 pm. This is the earliest we have set up camp. Were were able to eat dinner by 6 pm, rather than 8 pm.

After dinner we walked along the river trail for about a mile. It was dark by the time we got back to the van.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Last night’s camp was a great location. It was very quiet and we got a good night sleep.

In the morning we ate breakfast. I had oatmeal that I cooked in the microwave and Eva ate cereal.

It was about a 15 minutes drive to the visitor’s center at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Our first stop in the morning was at the visitor’s center. They had WIFI there, so I wanted to upload the last 3 blog posts. However, the internet was so slow that I had to resize all the pictures in the posts and re-upload. This took us over an hour to complete. So when we finally finished, we went out to explore the park.

Eva at the visitors center

Lassen Volcanic National Park was founded in 1916, after Mount Lassen erupted in 1914. There is a scenic drive that takes you through the west side of the park to see the thermally active areas and other lakes and waterfalls.

Sulfur Vents

We stopped on the road at a few sites and then around noon we started a 5.2 mile hike to the Bumpass Hell area. This area was named after Mr. Bumpass after he broke through the thin earth crust and dropped both legs into a boiling hot mud pot. It was a pretty easy hike. It starts with a wide path through the forest. The Northern California forests is mostly Pondarosa Pines that grow very tall and straight. They are usually covered with green moss and there are a lot of ferns growing on the forest floor. As we got closer to the end of the hike, it did get a little steep as you climb up to the volcanic basin where there are the mud pots and steam vents. They have a boardwalk so you can safely walk in the area.

Eva at Cold Boiling Lake

Bumpass Hell Area

We ate lunch at the rim of the bowl and then walked through the area. Overall it was about a 3 hour hike for us.

After the hike we continued on the scenic drive and stopped at a few of the areas affected by the 1914 volcano eruption. We left the park around 5:00 pm and found a camping spot in the forest outside the park. We just drove along a fire road a couple of miles until we found somewhere nice to camp. After setting up, Eva hunted for pine cones and I mounted the ax and shovel set, that I won, on the back of the van.

Sunday Travels

We got up early and showered and got ready for church. The ward in South Lake Tahoe is pretty small and it was a small building. There was not much parking so we went early to make sure we could get our big van in the parking lot, but we ended up parking on the street. There was a missionary homecoming so there was a big group (200?). The missionary liked to talk. He was the only speaker and went 20 minutes over.

After church we changed and started heading north along the west side of Lake Tahoe. The road weaves up and down and back and forth along the shore line and sometimes high above the shoreline. It is very beautiful, and Eva was able to enjoy it. I was too busy trying to stay on the road and avoid all the traffic and bikers.

We were heading north along CA89 to Lassen Volcanic National Park. It was about 200 miles and we wanted to camp close so we could get an early start in the park in the morning.

The drive north was very pretty. It would alternate between deep forested areas where you went over the mountain passes (4-5000’) and then drop into big grassy valleys with ranches and farms (at about 3-4000’) and a couple of small towns. It was a pleasant drive with a nice road that was not too steep.

A few miles from the park we found a forest road that cut off the main highway. We followed it about a mile into a deep canyon that was filled with trees. We found a nice camping spot next to a little creek.

After setting up camp, Eva used the Instant Pot to make another delicious dinner.

Adventure Van Expo

We got up and ate breakfast and cleaned up. We left the campground around 9 am. It was a 40 minute drive to Homewood Resort, on the west shore of the lake, where the Adventure Van Expo is held. This is an event where they have a lot of vendors displaying their equipment and campervan conversions. There were about 100 vans on display, but most were built by professional builders.

They also had a DYI van build contest. We entered our van, so for much of the day we stayed at the van and answered questions from the people that were browsing the area. We were just about not in the contest. The guy in charge thought it was built by a professional company. Eva had to catch him and tell him that we built it from scratch.

It took about an hour for the judges to come by, and then it was another hour before they announce the winners. We won the grand prize for the best finished van. The grand prize was an expedition kit from Aluminess. This is a shovel and ax kit with a mount and lock that mounts to the back of the van. It was something that I wanted to buy, but it costs $275 so I was not planning to buy it. So we were pretty glad that we won. I also won a Pantagonia puff jacket, a thermal cup and a couple of tee-shirts. Our van was well above the other vans on the contest so we would have been disappointed if we did not win.

We were at the expo until about 6 pm. They had some free food, so we ate dinner there. On the way back to camp we stopped at Inspiration Point to overlook Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe. On the way to Homewood in the morning the road was very crowded and all the parking areas were over-filled. Coming back in the evening there was a lot more space to park.

Back at camp we rested and talked the rest of the evening.

Lake Tahoe

We were up and going by 8:30 am. We left Illipah Reservoir and continued west on Hwy 50 to Eureka. We wanted to stop and use the WIFI at the church so I could send the blog posts, but the Eureka branch building ended up being 10-15 miles out of our way, so after about 5 miles we decided to continue in the right direction.

We stopped at the church in Austin, the next town. We parked close to the church, but apparently they have changed the default password, so we could not connect. Both Eureka and Austin are old mining towns and looked similar to Eureka, UT.

We kept driving and finally made it to Fallon. This is a fair sized town with a Walmart and other stores. They have 3 church buildings and we stopped at one and got pretty good WIFI when we sat on the steps of the Family History Center. We stayed about 30 minutes sitting in the shade, until a few ladies came to open the FHC.

We took off and went to Walmart. We ate lunch in the van sitting in the Walmart parking lot. After eating we went shopping and bought some food and a few other things.

From Fallon it was probably 90 minutes to Carson City. This was close to the start of the Sierra Nevada mountains. We topped of the gas tank and continued about 30 more minutes up the mountains to the camping spot we had identified. This was a large sandy lot about 1.5 miles off the highway. We were there with 3 other RVs, but they stayed in their RV and we never saw any of them during the time we were there. Later we determined that we were camping in the middle of the Pondarosa Ranch, from the TV show Bonanza (if it were a real ranch).

We made another Instant Pot meal. The Creamy Alfredo Chicken was pretty good. We ate dinner, cleaned up and then talked and read the rest of the evening.

The night went pretty good. We kept the windows closed, so the temperature inside was just right. By morning another van had pulled in and camped 50 feet from us. They must have come real late and very quietly.

We left early, around 6:30 am and drove the 40 minutes to the Fallen Leaf Campground, just west of South Lake Tahoe City. The camp office did not open until 8 am, but we were the second in line, which was good, because they only had 3 spots open for the night. We were able to get 2 nights for $35/night. It is just a normal Forest Service campground, but it does have showers. This was the cheapest campground at Lake Tahoe.

While waiting for the office to open we met Tom, a guy from central California. He was first in line, but he forgot his wallet, so we lent him $35 so he could pay for his site. We walked over to his campsite so he could repay us. He also told us a few spots to go on our trip on the coast of CA and Oregon.

Since we could not take our site until 2 pm, we headed to the LDS church in South Lake Tahoe. We found it, but our WIFI password for LDS Access did not work. This is the second church that had changed the password from the default. While in the church parking lot we ate breakfast and cleaned up.

Next, we parked in the public parking area and walked the path along the shoreline and through town. We also stopped at the public library and used the internet and bathrooms. On the way back to camp we washed the van the best we could at the car wash. We mainly wanted to get some quarters so we had some quarters to use at the campground showers.

Back at camp we read and talked for a while. We took showers around 4 pm and then cooked dinner later in the evening. Eva made taco soup using the induction cooktop. It took about 10% of the battery power.

The rest of the night we relaxed and read. The sun goes down around 7 pm and it is dark by 8 pm.

Great Basin National Park

We got a late start from home. Since it was Tuesday, we were tending the two little boys and then Alyssa had a dentist appointment so we waited a little longer to watch Everett, since he was taking a nap. We also had to get everything packed, and that took a little longer than planned.

We left home at 3:30 pm and went south through Utah County to Nephi and then headed west through Leamington to Delta. We topped off the gas tank and headed out into the Great Basin desert. By 6:30 pm we found a place to camp near the Utah/Nevada border. There was a turnoff that we took on the north side of the highway and drove out about a mile to a nice spot in the sand and cedar trees.

For dinner Eva tried her new 3 quart InstaPot. She cooked barbecue chicken and it took about 25 minutes. It also used about 20% of our battery power, but that should be made up in the morning with a few hours of the Nevada sun.

It was a very warm night so after eating we sat outside and looked at the stars. This area has not cities or houses close by, so there is no light pollution and so you could see a lot of stars. It was also a great night to sleep in our van. We opened all the windows on the top and had a nice cool breeze all night long. I think I had my best night sleep in the van.

The next morning we were up with the rising sun. We ate breakfast and cleaned up camp. The drive to Great Basin National Park was about 30-40 minutes. The park headquarters are in Baker, Nevada. We stopped at the visitors center and learned a little bit about the park. We had a Lehman Cave tour at 1 pm, so we had some time to explore before the tour.

We drove the Wheeler Peak Scenic drive. This is an 18 mile drive that starts at 6000’ elevation and ends at 10,300’. We stopped at the scenic overlooks and campgrounds on the way up. Coming back down the road we stopped at the Upper Lehman Creek Campground and ate sandwiches for lunch.

Eva with Wheeler Peak in the background.

Wheeler Peak
Looking east across the Great Basin
For Zac, the picture above zoomed in on Notch Peak.

We met at the Lehman Cave Visitors Center 15 minutes before the tour and had an orientation meeting. The cave tour is about 0.4 miles long and takes about 1-1/2 hour. It was interesting and our tour guide was pretty entertaining. The cave was discovered about 130 years ago and for many years people would break off the formations to take home. The motto was “If you can break it, you can take it.”

Once the government took over, better protections were put in place and the cave was better developed and controlled. There were man-made entrance and exit tunnels created to allow better access. The cave tour took you through 4-5 rooms that are open for public access.

The cave really didn’t have all the colors that you see in the pictures, but the came out that way in the pictures.

After the tour we worked our way out of the park and started the drive to Ely. It was about 60 miles from the park to Ely. At Ely we filled up with gas and the found the LDS church. We expect this will be our best access to WIFI while on our trip. They have a smaller, older chapel, but we found a place to park where we could get some WIFI access. We didn’t stay long, we just wanted to test it.

From Ely we drove about 40 miles west and camped at a free campground overlooking Illipah Reservoir. It was another very nice evening with warm temperatures and not many bugs. As soon as it was dark the coyotes started howling. There were dozens of them all around the reservoir. They started howling several times through the night.

September 2019 Road Trip

We are on our first big trip with the van. We plan to be gone for 3-4 weeks, depending on how fast we go and how much we want to see. The plan is to go west on highway 50 (The Loneliness Highway in America) to Great Basin National Park. From there we will continue on highway 50 to Lake Tahoe.

We plan to stay a few days in Tahoe. From Tahoe we plan to continue northwest to Lassen Volcanic National Park and then further north to the Columbia River Gorge. At that point we will turn south and go down the coast of Oregon, stopping at the beaches and lighthouses.

We will continue down the coast into California and visit the Redwood State and National Parks. From there we will turn east and work our way back home. I am not too sure how long we will stay at each place or how long it will take to travel,so we will see how it goes. The agenda is pretty rough.

Green River Kayak Trip – June 2019

Here is an article that I wrote for the Sea Eagle Adventure Blog. They gave me $400 of store credit for publishing this article.

Labyrinth Canyon in Sea Eagle FastTrack 385s

Labyrinth Canyon

After owning our FastTrack 385s for a year, it is now time for a multi-day adventure. The premier flatwater river trip in the western US is floating the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon, in southern Utah. The canyon stretches 46 miles from the popular put-in spot at Ruby Ranch to Mineral Bottom, just north of Canyonlands National Park.

There are several alternate start points that can stretch the river miles to almost 70 miles, but those extra miles are through rolling hills of sage brush and farms, not quite as picturesque as the high red sandstone walls of Labyrinth Canyon. Floating this section of the Green River requires a free permit from the Moab office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This can be obtained through contacting the BLM office, or on-line. The permit requires carrying specific gear (portable toilet, fire pan, safety equipment, etc) on your boat, along with other stipulations to help ensure safety and maintain the back-country conditions of the area.

The flow of the Green River varies widely based on the annual precipitation and season of the year. Ranging from 2000-4000 CFS (cubic feet per second) in late fall and winter, to over 20,000 CFS during the spring runoff. As we monitored the flow in the weeks leading up to our trip, the river flow ranged from 13,000-15,000 CFS. A little high, but within the expected flow rate for an early June trip. However, just days before our trip was scheduled to start, the water managers at Flaming Gorge Reservoir, 300 miles upstream, significantly increased the output from the dam. The purpose was to lower the reservoir level enough to make room for the expected snow melt runoff. It takes about 3-4 days for increased flow from Flaming Gorge to travel downstream to Labyrinth Canyon, so 2 days before our trip the flow of the river jumped from 15,000 CFS to 25,000 CFS. This was a slight concern, but after a call to a local river guide and the BLM office, the trip continued as planned. The main downside of the increase flow was a significant reduction in the available campsites along the river and increased difficulty of exiting and entering the river due to the flooded river banks.

Sea Eagle 385ft Fully Loaded for 3 Day Trip

The 385ft is the perfect boat for this type of trip. The carrying capacity is adequate for hauling camping gear for a multi-day trip. The geometry and style of the boat allows for easy paddling and control, even when it is fully loaded. The portability of the inflatable kayaks increases the options for setting up the vehicle shuttle for this multi-day trip.

For this trip my wife, Eva, and myself each paddled our own 385ft kayaks. This provided plenty of room for the gear required by the permit and all the other niceties that makes for a comfortable camping trip. We chose to launch from Ruby Ranch, a working alfalfa ranch south of the city of Green River, Utah. After a 40 minute drive on gravel roads from Green River City, we arrived at Ruby Ranch. The ranch owner charges a nominal fee ($10/boat + $5/person) to park and launch from their river access. There are also camping sites ($5/night) and a picnic area at the boat launch.

We dropped off our kayaks and gear at the ranch and proceeded to set up the vehicle shuttle between Ruby Ranch and the takeout point at Mineral Bottom. For our shuttle, we chose to use an ATV (all terrain vehicle) as a second vehicle. We left Ruby Ranch and trailered the ATV to Mineral Bottom. This leg of the trip was 20 miles of pavement and 50 miles of dirt road. We parked our vehicle and trailer at the overnight parking site at Mineral Bottoms and rode the ATV on 40+ miles of dirt backroads back to Ruby Ranch. The entire shuttle setup took almost 4 hours to complete. We made it back to the launch point and were on the river around 2 pm.

Entering Labyrinth Canyon

The river was running high and fast and we covered quickly covered the 2-3 miles to the start of Labyrinth Canyon. As we entered the canyon, the riverside terrain changed from flatland desert to sandstone cliffs on rising on both sides of the river. The cliffs continued to rise as we floated deeper into the canyon. The canyon was true to its name and the river wound back and forth between the high cliffs. The beauty of the canyon increased as we traveled down the river. The river flow was such that paddling was only required to keep the kayaks pointed down the river.

The unusual high flow of the Green River reduced the access to many of the campsites, but did have the advantage of flooding the side canyons. Normally these side canyons are high and dry above the main river. Seven miles from Ruby Ranch are the three canyons of Trin-Alcove bend. Where you would normally need to hike into these canyons, the river was backed into the side canyons leaving calm waters to paddle up the canyon to explore. These side canyons felt like a jungle river as we paddled through the tree tops, with the canyon floor buried below the waters. This was a completely different experience from those who travel the river during lower flow rates. We continued until we found the campsite for the first night on the river. We camped on a sandy bench below a high sandstone cliff. We enjoyed a quiet night as we watched the sunset create a glow on the red sandstone surrounding our camp.

First Night Campsite
Sunrise at Trin-Alcove Canyon

The next morning we broke camp and got an early start on the river. The rising sun on the walls of the canyons met us as we left the side canyon and entered the main channel. I estimate the river was running at about 4-5 mph so little paddling was required to move down the river. After several more miles, we took a side trip down 10 Mile Canyon. This canyon wound through the thickets of tamarisk until it opened into a deep walled canyon. We paddled about a mile down the canyon until we found a nice shady spot to beach the boats and have lunch. Again it was a beautiful area as we watched a Blue Heron fly around the canyon, and we were visited by a family of geese as they paddled down the creek.

Exiting 10 Mile Canyon

Hey Joe Canyon was the next stop. This was the site of a historic uranium mine and we explored the abandoned equipment and mining site. There were many other points of interest along the river, but the high water level kept us from finding a place to beach the boats and explore.

We did make a stop at Bowknot Bend. This is a location where the river flows alongside a high sandstone cliff. Over the next 7 miles the river makes a 180 degree bend and flows back to within 1/2 mile of itself on the other side of the cliff. We were able to find a spot to get off the river and complete the hike to the top of the Bowknot saddle and view the other side of the cliff and river.

View from BowKnot Bend

After 23 miles of travel, the second night’s camp was in Spring Canyon. The entrance to this canyon is similar to the others, but it quickly turned into a tamarisk jungle. The tamarisk were so thick it quickly became too difficult to move forward, but there was also no place to turn around.

Tamarisk is an invasive species that has invaded many of the western US waterways. The species was introduced in this country to combat erosion, but has quickly taken over the banks of many western rivers and lakes. Tamarisk chokes out the native species and prevent other plants from growing. Each tamarisk can produce 200,000 seeds each year, and spread quickly along the shorelines. Along the Green River, tamarisk has blocked shore access along much of the river. The tamarisk is so thick that it can be impossible to pass through.

The entrance of Spring Canyon had 2-300 yards of thick, thick tamarisk. I went in first while Eva waited at the entrance. It took 20 minutes to fight my way through the overgrowth of tamarisk, not paddling most of the time, but using branches to pull myself hand-over-hand and weaving the kayak through the mess. The FastTrack kayaks again performed great. The tough skins of the kayak were not damaged at all by the sharp branches of the tamarisk. Once through the thicket, the canyon opened up into a beautiful campsite below the high sandstone walls with a clear pool to park the kayaks. The night treated us to a dark star-filled sky we watched through the mesh roof of our tent.

Flatwater of Labyrinth Canyon

Day three was another beautiful day with perfect temperature, no wind and clear blue skies. We only had 15 river miles to go until we arrived at the Mineral Bottom take-out point. We didn’t want to miss Mineral Bottom as the nex takeout point was 4-5 days and 60 miles down river. We were having such an enjoyable time, we did not want to hurry down the river. We rafted the kayaks up and floated the last miles of our trip, with a stop at Horseshoe Canyon for lunch and to explore Hell Roaring Canyon.

The final miles of Labyrinth Canyon was as picturesque as the rest of the canyon. We paddled into the boat ramp area of Mineral Bottom at around 3:30 pm. We broke down the kayaks and loaded the gear to make the trip back to Ruby Ranch to pick up our ATV before heading home.

Takeout Point at MIneral Bottom

The Sea Eagle FastTrack kayaks were perfect for this trip. They easily held all our camping gear and supplies, with room to spare. They were easy to paddle and control as we explored the tight side canyons. The durability and high quality construction was evident.