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Areas in Desolation Canyon

Rock Creek 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Siren, The 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 1
Steer Ridge Area 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Elevation: 4,500 ft
GPS: 39.84, -109.911 Google Map · Climbing Map
Shared By: Andrew Gram on Apr 29, 2011
Admins: Andrew Gram, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq
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Description

Desolation Canyon is a beautiful and remote canyon carved by the Green River. The rock is very unusual - layers of excellent Wasatch formation sandstone is interlaced with good to awful Green River formation sandstones, limestones, and siltstones. Fortunately, the most appealing part of the canyon is mostly Wasatch formation, and the Green River bands are short, easy, and clean up after trundling hundreds of pounds of rocks.

Aside from the spectacular towers and large walls in the canyon, there are numerous shorter walls that would make for good cragging. The potential here is vast.

Getting There

This is where climbing in Desolation Canyon gets tricky.

The only practical way to climb in this extremely remote canyon is via raft. The trip is 84 river miles between the Sand Wash put in south of Myton Utah and the Swasey's Beach take out north of Green River Utah. The first 25 miles are very slow flat water, but after that there is near constant class II and III whitewater. A flash flood in 2008 changed Joe Hutch Canyon rapid from an easy class III to a Grand Canyon style big water class III rapid. Most of the whitewater is pretty easy, but new boatmen may have some trouble with Joe Hutch, Three Fords, and Coal Creek, particularly at high water.

April and May are the best months to climb in Deso since spring runoff high water makes the river trip go much faster. Summer is much too hot and the bugs are notoriously awful, and ice dams block the river from December to March. Fall would be beautiful, but low water rock dodging makes rowing heavy cargo difficult, and you would really want a motor for the flat water sections. I did a 13000 cfs April trip in 3 long and 1 short day of rowing. A July 1500 cfs trip took 7 hard days of rowing.

BLM permits are required year round - http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/price/recreation/riverinf.html has information on the permit process and river regulations. The river left bank is on the Uintah-Ouray Indian Reservation from Sand Wash to Coal Creek, and permits from the Ute tribe are required for access - http://www.utetribe.com/desolation-permit.html

The USGS gauge for Desolation Canyon is located at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?09315000

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