Unplugging, What to Expect

Unplugging, What to Expect

One of the greatest perks of going on a river rafting trip is the lack of cell phone service and internet connection. Today the average American spends over 10 hours looking at a screen every day and the rise of social media is linked with a rise in mental health disorders among teens. Being unplugged is many guests favorite part of the trip, but it can also be nerve wrecking. Not to worry, you aren’t alone in your fears, and we promise it will all be worth it.

The Anticipation:

Like a college freshman walking into their dorm room for the first time you are filled with questions, nervous, but also excited. What will it be like? It’s the first time my whole family has been unplugged. Maybe I will have service…? Will the internet miss me?

I hate to burst your bubble, but the internet will not miss you. The world of social media will go on to fight another day without you. We recommend you leave your phones in the car (it will make your withdrawals end sooner). Prepare by digging out your old IPod classic and speaker, find a good camera, a deck of cards, and that book you have been wanting to read. If you must bring your phone download a few extra Spotify playlists and delete a few games to make sure there is plenty of room for photos.

But what if something happens while I’m gone!? Not to worry, your guides carry a satellite deivice called an “In-Reach” for emergencies.  This means that if something happens in the real world and you NEED to know about immediately, you will. But please keep in mind this is for emergencies only, not to check the score of the Pat’s game.

The Withdrawals:  

You are on your way. Your family is lounging in the summer sun, half listening to your guide chatter about the history of Dinosaur National Monument and how old the rocks are, gazing at the beautiful canyon before you. You’re finally breathing easy when your oldest child pulls out his phone to take a snapchat. He realizes that there’s a snap unloaded on his phone. Panic sets in. They weren’t lying, there is no service. Your kids ask at every bend, “Is there service here?” staring at a screen missing the most spectacular views you have ever seen. You’re telling your children to relax and just enjoy the movement and secretly you are wishing you could check Twitter. 

The Awakening:

Finally, at camp the first night you’re sitting in mesh chair arranged in a circle on the sandy beaches of the gorgeous Green River next to you. You pretend to read your book, really thinking about the day spent listening to your kids ask all the questions you wanted to…

The chairs around you start to fill and you put down your book to chat. The what do you dos and where are you froms eventually lead to someone asking “Which state has the largest concentration of dairy farms?” Un-googleable, it sparks a lively debate and leads to stories about your childhood summers spent on a dairy farm in Nebraska.

Enjoying the Moment:

All the chairs are full and you watch your children laugh uncontrollably at one another in the firelight. Everything seems to be at peace, a million stars you’ve never seen twinkle above you and silently, you realize that no one has mentioned their phones in hours. You are unplugged. The next three days are full of towering canyon walls, thrilling whitewater, storytelling, and debating which collection of stars is Cassiopeia. You stay up late, loving this time spent with family and new friends, pre-trip worries entirely dissolved.

An Overwhelming Reintroduction:  

You float up to the Split Mountain boat ramp at the end of your trip so glad you have unplugged, but just a little curious about what happened while you were gone. You hold your breath to hug your guides goodbye, tearing up a bit, equal parts sad to go and overwhelmed by the smell. Thrilled with the whole experience, you pile into the van back to the hotel. You pull out your phone and it starts to buzz. Bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzz. My God, it won’t stop! 150 group messages from the ladies in your gym class complaining about how sore they are, 30 emails from J-Crew alerting you to another 20% sale, and New York Times notifications roll in one after another! Completely overwhelmed, you realize you told everyone you wouldn’t have service until the next day and you turn off your phone, to enjoy the last few minutes of your unplugged paradise.


White Water Dory Trip Green River Gates of Lodore

Lodories

Author: Brad Dimock

It was another in a long series of preposterous ideas pursued by Dory Moon Expeditions. The Canyon of Lodore–the steepest, rockiest stretch of the Green and Colorado–in wooden dories full of gear and people. A stretch of water usually so desiccated by Flaming Gorge Dam’s paltry releases that it is all but impassable to hard-hulled boats. We tried it once in 1991, gambling on the annual Memorial Day (-ish) fishery releases, but lost the bet and had to switch to rafts and rumble through on under 1,000 cfs. We tried again in 1995 and won, rowing dories through on a falling release of about 3,500 cfs with only minor damage. But we hadn’t had the nerve to try it again in over two decades.
With several of our core dory crew now in our sixties (we like to call ourselves sexagenarians), we figured there’s not much time to left to do goofy things. So after last year’s wacky Rogue River dory trip’s success (we only crashed three or four boats), we held our breath and gambled on another Memorial Day release, hoping for at least 2,500 cfs to bash our way through.
Imagine our surprise and delight to see the Upper Green River Basin fill to over 250% of normal snowpack over the winter, and find the river running at nearly maximum release throughout the spring. Jackpot.
I headed north, picked up Coop and his dory in Dolores, and headed for Dinosaur. Coming over Douglass Pass we were astonished to see an enormous cinnamon-colored bear tumble into the road, regain his composure, and scramble up the embankment back into the forest. A good omen no doubt. As we neared our goal and the evening light grew richer, we stopped to soak in the glory.
Blue Mountain and whitewater dory boats.
We found Andy and Kate and two more dories doing the same. RJ and Bruce, coming in from other directions, soon joined the sunset party.

The next day at Dinosaur River Expeditions we sidled the top boats over for loading.

Whitewater dory boats at the Dinosaur River Expeditions boat yard.
And the following morning drove to Flaming Gorge Dam, bursting with the water we had so been looking forward to getting. The gage held steady through our trip at over 7,000 cfs. Woohoo!
Flaming Gorge Dam

And away we go. Eighteen innocent clients (well, kind of innocent), six dories, and three rafts full of extraneous gear.

Down through Red Canyon.

A side hike up to Shorty Burton’s old cabin. A log has fallen on hole #2 of his double outhouse.

And the main cabin could use a bit of maintenance.

Camp at Red Creek–such a spectacular place. A wind storm and rain welcome us to the wilds.

Overnight Red Creek went into flood upstream, giving us a two-tone river. The good news is that Bruce, unlike the last two times we camped here, did not have a malarial attack. I think it was because of the large quantities of preventative quinine water and juniper juice we drank that evening.

Red Creek campsite on the Green River

At Taylor Flat, the old low bridge was finally blown away by the high water of 1983. So what did they do? Replaced it with another low bridge–too low to get the dories under at this high flow. Out come the roller tubes.

After careful measuring, we lined the rafts beneath the bridge with four inches to spare. As a reward, the bridge grew us a tasty morel for an appetizer.

We were back afloat in under two hours, but with a headwind and a long haul across Brown’s Park ahead of us. Here is the old Swinging Bridge. It was always a thrill to drive across as it swung and rippled. You always wondered if it would hold. (Like Amil Quayle’s poem, Stairways–“It feels risky and nice. I’m sure it’ll collapse someday. Somebody might get hurt. I always wonder if this will be the time.”) Well, a few years ago a tractor got the booby prize, and the bridge was formally closed to vehicles. The remains tell the story.

A beautiful evening at Crook Camp.

Best cook crew ever.

Lodore School–a remnant of more populous times.

And the Gates of Lodore open to accept us–one of the more amazing views on any river trip. We’re going in there?

Scouting Disaster Falls, where Major Powell lost the No Name. It goes on and on.

Go that way. But watch out for that.

The mid-section of Disaster was completely huge, but we all bounced through. Camp at Pot Creek.

Leah finds a friend.

Morning story time. We each tell the intertwined sagas of our dories’ lives.
Harp Falls rocks and rolls.

Triplet Falls. More scouting as ice balls fall from the sky.

Melissa shows us the way, pausing to blow us a kiss half way through.

And finally, the crux move. Hell’s Half Mile. So well named. Routinely portaged at great labor until 1922 when Bert Loper said “to hell with it!” and ran it. Fast, powerful, studded with boulders and logs, and endless. A long, busy, difficult run.

The raftsmen show us the way, and Bruce tries to convince us it works for a dory. Wowzers.
White water dory in Hells Half Mile rapid Green River Gates of Lodore Dinosaur National Monument
And we make it through with only one minor flesh wound. A late but exuberant lunch at Rippling Brook and a walk to the falls.

Evening festivities at Wild Mountain.

A morning hike to a vista above Alcove Brook.

Limestone hike overlook, Green River Gates of Lodore

And Lodore comes to a dramatic end as we hit the Mitten Park Fault and enter Echo Park.

Mitten Park Fault Dinosaur National Monument

A visit to one of  Pat Lynch’s monogrammed caves.

Cooling off in Whispering Cave.

Kate’s sore knee hitchhiking back to the boats.

Steamboat Rock. It would have been a wee island in a large reservoir but for David Brower and Martin Litton’s leadership in defeating Echo Park Dam. Thanks again, guys.

Lunch on the backside of the Mitten Park Fault.

Geology class.

What is RJ looking at?

The Denis Julien inscription. A trapper who plied the Green back in the 1830s.

Evening light at Stateline Camp. We are cautiously optimistic about this voyage. Okay, not that cautious.

Inventing our own parking lot at Jone’s Hole.

While the others hike the creek, I celebrate four years of ukulele abuse under the tree where I first laid hands on one.

We exit Whirlpool Canyon into Island Park. The bison on the wall is there to welcome us.

So are the mosquitoes. They are drilling through Carhartts in this shot.

But the sunset is marvelous.
Beautiful evening Island Park campsite on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument
Marching through the cheatgrass to the Wedding Panel.

Amazing petroglyphs accessible by a scary climb or via sensible binoculars.

Entering Split Mountain Canyon, the final gauntlet.

After a raucous ride through Moonshine, SOB, and Schoolboy Rapids, we stop for lunch. So do the bighorn ewes.

After cutting into Split Mountain, the river parallels the mountain crest, then turns to cut out the far side.

At Split Mountain boat ramp, where most people, eyes looking downward, scurry to pack their boats away and leave, we camp and admire the uncommon beauty.

We spend one final morning cruising the Big W–a winding stretch of river below Split Mountain that offers magnificent views of the cliffs we just exited.

And life-size petroglyphs.

And lichen art.

As we turn south into the gray Mancos Shale, our passengers depart and we push the remaining six miles to Jensen Bridge.

Against odds, the ancient mariners made it through again. We’ll be back in another twenty-two years.

Thanks to Tyler and Jen Callantine of Dinosaur River Expeditions for supporting this madness. And our support crew: Brett Smith, Sweet Melissa Frogh, and young Jacoby. And our stalwart dorymen Andy Hutchinson, Kate Thompson, RJ Johnson, Tim Cooper, Bruce Keller, and myself.


Green River Gates of Lodore White Water Rafting

White Water River Rafting the Green River Gates of Lodore Dinosaur National Monument

 

Beginning in Brown’s Park, Colorado the Green River Gates of Lodore river rafting adventure takes its travelers on a 44 mile journey through the center of Dinosaur National Monument. This white water river rafting trip is a favorite among veteran river rafters and novices alike. The Green River has a consistent water flow year around, great rapids, beautiful camps a little bit of something for everyone along its way.

Flaming Gorge Dam located up river from the put in point to the Gates of Lodore trip provides a constant water source for this desert river. Because of this constant water supply the Green River is a great rafting trip all summer long. Whether you choose to take this trip in June or August it will be fabulous. The Green River Gates of Lodore has a sister river in Dinosaur National Monument the Yampa River. The Yampa River is one of the last free flowing rivers in the Colorado river system. With its free flowing nature the Yampa River has a limited time frame where it is navigable. The Yampa River has its best rafting Mid May through Mid June during the time of the snow melt from the Colorado Rockies.

 

Gorgeous riverside campsite on the Green River through Gates of Lodore canyon in Dinosaur National Monument Colorado
Gorgeous riverside campsite on the Green River through Gates of Lodore canyon in Dinosaur National Monument Colorado

Our Green River Gates of Lodore trip begins in Vernal, Utah. We have a pre trip orientation the evening before your trips departure. This orientation gives your group a chance to meet the guides, get your dry bags for the trip and answer any last minute questions. The following morning the bags are loaded and we drive you from Vernal to Brown’s Park where you will meet the guides and begin the river adventure.

At the put in point the crew will direct you on how to most safely travel on a white water rafting trip. Fit you with a PFD or personal flotation device. Help guide each guest on the different white water craft that will be on the trip and give you a short overview of some of the back country travel concepts you will follow on this journey. This orientation takes about 30 to 40 minutes in length depending on your groups size. Once you are loaded on the rafts the journey truly begins. You are free of cell phones, traffic and work getting to relax enjoying some of the most incredible scenery in the state of Colorado and Utah.

As you enter the canyon of Lodore you will experience your first rapid Winnie’s a fun class two rapid with a little excitement to it. The rapids on the Gates of Lodore trip range from Class two to occasionally class four (depending on water levels). On this section of river the rapid classification is based on Class one being calm water to class six being unrunable white water. The most famous rapid on this trip is Hell’s Half Mile a class 3 or class 4 rapid which has been ranked as one of the 10 most famous rapids in North America. Do not let the classification scare you the guides on our trips are very experienced and take every precaution to navigate the white water rapids as safely as possible. The river is a wild place and things can happen that are out of anyone’s control.

The white water is one of the trips highlights but not the only thing that makes it special. The camping and hiking is also phenomenal. Each camp has great swimming, beautiful tent sites and the scenery never stops taking your breath away. At each evenings camp the guides will set up the main camp equipment while you take care of your tent and sleeping gear. Early evening the guides will astound you with a dutch oven dinner and all the extra’s. A typical dinner would begin with appetizers followed by an amazing meal prepared by your guide staff. You will even be surprised by their baking skills when they serve up the evenings desert cooked in a dutch oven under the coals. In the morning the smell of freshly brewed coffee will fill the air. A hearty breakfast will begin your day followed by breaking down camp and preparing the rafts for that days river adventure.

 

Rippling Brook hike Green River Gates of Lodore Dinosaur National Monument
Rippling Brook hike Green River Gates of Lodore Dinosaur National Monument

We have talked about camp and rapids but what about hiking? Dinosaur National Monument has some of the most incredible hiking opportunities of any of the National Parks. Your guides based on group interests, weather and assigned camps will lead you on some incredible hikes throughout the trip. A couple of the hikes that are most popular are Jones Hole Creek. This hike can be a 5 mile round trip hike where you will see some fantastic Native American rock art, waterfalls and wildlife. All the while you will be following Jones Creek a beautiful spring fed creek, crystal clear and teaming with trout. In Echo Park your guides will lead you to Whispering Cave (do not forget your headlamp) and to another fine rock art site. Winnie’s Grotto is a short hike with spectacular scenery, this hike is typically a first day lunch stop.

No matter what your interests in the outdoors are a Green River Gates of Lodore trip with Dinosaur River Expeditions will be a trip of a lifetime. This trip fills up quickly and space can be limited so call or email today we will be happy to help you with any of your needs.


Yampa River Rafting Dinosaur National Monument

The Yampa River

The Yampa River is one of the most prized stretches of river in the American West. The Yampa River received its name from the Snake Indians word for the Perideridia plant “Yampah”. The plant was found abundant in the watershed. The headwaters of the Yampa River are in the Park Range of Colorado near the town of Steamboat Springs. From its starting point the Yampa River takes a westward course towards Dinosaur National Monument stretching an approximate 250 miles till it joins the Green River in Echo Park. The Yampa drains 7,660 square miles of area in northwestern Colorado and a small area in Wyoming. The river is mostly fed from snow melt and has a small window of time when it is a navigable river way for recreation. It is one of the last free flowing rivers that has only a few small diversions and dams along its course and tributaries. Because of its natural free flowing characteristic people boat many different sections of the Yampa but the most popular is through Dinosaur National Monument. The put in point is at Deer Lodge, Colorado to the take out point 72 miles downstream at Split Mountain, Utah. Taking 4 to 6 days in length to raft, camp, hike and explore this incredible section of wild river.

Yampa River Map Dinosaur National Monument

 

Through Dinosaur National Monument the river flows through a productive riparian zone supporting a variety of plant and animal life. The rivers natural state makes it an ideal habitat for many of the Colorado river systems native fish. Some of the fish are endangered and rely heavily on the Yampa River for spawning and habitat. The primary native fish that rely on the river is the Colorado Pike-minnow which uses the gravel bars for spawning in the late spring and early summer months.

The area has a rich human history archaeological studies conducted in the area reveal evidence of human habitation up to 7000 B.C. The Fremont culture inhabited the Yampa River area starting about 800 A.D. but disappeared for unknown reasons during the 1400’s. There are many cultural sites that can be visited along the river where you will see petroglyphs and other important archaeological evidence of the areas early human inhabitants.

Through erosion 23 unique rock layers have been exposed in Dinosaur National Monument. These geologic features create a landscape that is unbelievable in its scenic beauty. The Green River flowing through the Gates of Lodore and the Yampa River through steady down cutting have revealed rock formations that have been twisted, folded and formed during the past 2 billion years. These rock layers are the remnants of extinct ecosystems spanning 1.2 billion years from ancient seas, the time of the dinosaurs to a Sahara like desert. These rock layers make up one of the most complete stratigraphic columns exposed within a National Park.

 

 

The white water rapids on the Yampa River range from small splashy waves to one of the biggest rapids in the Colorado River system Warm Springs Rapid. The rapids are thrilling and fun for everyone on a raft trip, guides are highly skilled and well trained to navigate the many drops encountered along the way. The most noted rapid on the Yampa River is Warm Springs. Before 1965 it was nothing but a ripple, an unimportant spot that had little significance other than beautiful scenery. This all changed overnight on June 10th, 1965 when a major thunderstorm came through northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado. This storm caused major flash floods filling the river bed with boulders and debris that changed a once tepid riffle into one of the most talked about drops on the Colorado river system. Warm Springs rapid with all the lore and hype is a highlight on the Yampa River and a rapid that you will talk about for years after going through it on a raft.

 

Steamboat Rock Echo Park the confluence of the Yampa River and Green River.

 

Camping on the Yampa River is phenomenal with spectacular views and beautiful shorelines for relaxing. Camp is set up and taken care of by the expert guide staff who will prepare delicious meals and cater to most of your camping needs.

The Yampa River has a limited availability and trips fill up quickly. This adventure is great for families, groups or individuals and has something to suit everyone from exciting white water to stunning scenery. This is a vacation to add to your bucket list and see at least once in your lifetime. Choose Dinosaur River Expeditions Vernal, Utah’s only locally owned and operated river raft trip outfitter.

Book Your Trip Today!

 


Family fun in the heart of Dinosaur National Monument

A river rafting adventure is a great way to spend time with your family and friends. First of all, you lose cell phone signal so the office is not calling you and your kids cannot text their friends non-stop. You truly get to unplug from the electronic life. Second who doesn’t want to float beautiful canyons, raft wild rapids and sit around a campfire at night enjoying each other’s company free from distractions. One of the best areas in the United States for a river rafting trip is Dinosaur National Monument. Located in Northeastern Utah crossing over the border into Colorado Dinosaur National Monument is home to the Yampa River and Green River Gates of Lodore two premier white water rafting trips. The Yampa River is the Colorado river systems last undammed tributary. Making this a top choice for river rafters looking for a truly wild river experience. The Yampa River because it is water flow is not controlled by a dam is a spring and early summer river trip. With the spring snow melt the Yampa becomes a great raft trip in mid-May and goes into the middle of June. We recommend taking this trip as a 5-day excursion. This allows ample time to take in the breath-taking scenery of the canyon walls, enjoy the exciting rapids, hike to fabulous vistas. The Yampa River has some great white water rapids rated from class 2 to class 4.

Warm Springs rapid can be one of the biggest and fun rapids in the American west. This rapid some consider to be one of the 10 best drops in North America. Rapids are not the only thing that make this trip great the incredible scenery, wonderful meals, expert guides will all make the Yampa River a trip you will not forget. The Green River Gates of Lodore is an all-around favorite stretch of river to raft. Starting in Browns Park, Colorado the Green River winds its way through the center of Dinosaur National Monument. The Green River starts its long journey in the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming eventually joining the Colorado river. Flaming Gorge Dam controls the water and flows of the Green River through Dinosaur Monument. Because of this water regulation the Gates of Lodore is always a great trip whether you go in June or August you will have fun water and exciting rapids. The Gates of Lodore canyon has some unbelievable geology. The towering red rocks will leave you speechless from there grandeur. Kids love the Green River, camps have fun sandy beaches, great swimming holes and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the inflatable kayak or a stand-up paddle board. Either trip the Yampa River or the Green River Gates of Lodore will take you at least 4 days of perfect unplugged, wilderness river rafting. A few suggestions when looking for a trip like this. First find a reputable outfitter, Dinosaur River Expeditions is the only locally owned and operated outfitter in the region. We have the firsthand knowledge of the area, a rich family history and world class service that makes your trip extra special. When you book a trip with Dinosaur River Expeditions you will work with us the owners we will help you find the right trip and date perfect for your family or group. Call today and find your families next unplugged river rafting adventure.


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