>Labyrinth Canyon Kayaking


Ok, this isn’t a skiing post, and it’s not even about Idaho. But indulge me, I haven’t had a vacation in a long time.

I finally got to a point at work where I could take some time off. Anna and I wanted to spend a week sea-kayaking somewhere. We’d originally thought of Lake Powell. We’d had a great trip there two years ago, and wanted to try a different section. But then I read about the Labyrinth Canyon section of the Green River, between the town of Green River, Utah and Canyonlands National Park. Some people consider it the finest flat water river paddle in the US. So we loaded up our boats onto my new truck and headed South.

View of Canyonlands from Dead Horse Point. This isn’t the river we’ll be floating. Acording to the guide book, Labrynth Canyon is even better than this!

There are a couple of different launch points for Labyrinth. We chose the Ruby Ranch launch. It cuts off some of the more uninteresting sections of the river, but still leaves a nice 52 mile stretch down to the take out at Mineral Bottom.

Our plan was to launch on Sunday, and take out on Thursday. Our first “Oh Crap” moment came when we bought a guide book in Moab that states the road to Ruby Ranch is closed on Sunday. A call to Ron, our shuttle driver, assured us the road would be open, so we slept a little easier. The road to the Ranch isn’t marked very well. In fact, the only sign leading to the Ranch is a “No Trespassing” sign on the entrance gate. After a passing ATVer assured us we were headed the right way, we soon found the launch site. The launch is located on private land, and they charge a small fee to launch there. A simple honor system pay site makes the red tape easy. Labyrinth is a popular float, so we were pleasantly surprised to discover we were the only ones at the launch. But just as we launched, a large party of 4-5 rafts drove in. If you want solitude, this isn’t the trip for you.

Anna at the Ruby Ranch launch.

After launching, we floated an easy 7 miles to our first camp site. The river current is between 2-3 miles per hour, so combined with the speed of our expedition kayaks, it was obvious we didn’t have to press too hard to cover a lot of miles.

The first camp was at Three Canyon, which is probably the best hike in Labyrinth. We laid over a day to explore the canyon, and it was worth it. Anna discovered a set of dinosaur tracks. Four tracks of similar size and shape. And those tracks were huge. I wouldn’t want to meet the owner of those feet.

One of four dinosaur tracks Anna found in Three Canyon.

After our layover day, the weather stated to turn. We started battling head winds that slowed us down. I don’t know how the rafts were going to get down river in those winds. But we made about 22 miles the third day. Not too bad for the first kayak trip of the summer. The next day, the winds were predicted to be 25-35 with gusts up to 50, so we sat out another day and hung out in the tent trying to keep the blowing sand out of our food. It was actually kind of nice. Sometimes lazy days like that are the best part of vacation.

Landing at our second camp site.

Approaching the Bow Knot Bend.

I really like this shot of Anna.

Petroglyph near Tenmile Canyon.

Doesn’t Anna look great in that hat?

Inscription near Hellroaring Canyon. Julien was a French fur trapper and the first white man to run Cataract Canyon.

Our last day on the river, we paddled about 23 miles in only a few hours. We stopped at some petroglyph sites, and made it to the take out by early afternoon. It’s always a relief to arrive at the take out and find your vehicle waiting for you. I’ve had shuttles go bad before and it’s quite a mess.

On the way home, we drove through an area called Nine Mile Canyon, near Price. It has some of the best collections of petroglyphs I’ve ever seen in the US. Most are a short walk from the road. There is a milepost guide available at the museum in Price. The guide estimates there are over 100,000 petroglyphs in the canyon. I highly recommend this drive to anyone on their way back from Moab. It’s also a detour you can take to avoid driving through Salt Lake.

The Great Hunt petroglyph in Ninemile Canyon.


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