• Spires of Cedar Mesa sandstone in Chesler Park (Needles District)


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  • Some unpaved roads are closed

    Recent rains have caused extensive damage to some roads in the Needles District and some of the roads into the Maze District. More »

  • Safety in Bear Country

    Black bears have been seen in the Needles, Maze, and along the Colorado River. Be alert and store food and garbage properly: in hard-sided, latched containers (or your vehicle) when not being prepared or consumed. More »

  • New backcountry requirements in effect

    Hard-sided bear containers are required for backpackers in parts of the Needles District. More »

Low Water FAQs

What is considered low water?

In Cataract Canyon, flows below 5,000 cfs are considered low water.

Where can I find current river flow data?


How does low water affect Cataract Canyon?

During low water, the rapids in Cataract Canyon become increasingly rocky and technical (requiring precise moves to avoid obstacles). In some cases, rocks and other features may be unavoidable. The risk of pinning or wrapping boats is high. All groups should have the appropriate gear, skill and experience to both navigate and self-rescue in these conditions.

What boats are appropriate for low water Cataract trips?

The ability to successfully run rapids at low water depends entirely on the individual(s) rowing or paddling. As with any river, there are no guarantees. Smaller, non-motorized boats (16 feet in length or less) generally have less trouble reacting quickly and navigating the rapids as they become tighter.


Low Water Photos

During the summer of 2002, flows on the Colorado and Green Rivers dropped to record lows. These photos were taken in Cataract Canyon during the week of July 1, 2002. At the time, the flow was estimated to be 2,700 cfs. Additional photos are available on the Canyonlands Flickr Site.

Capsize (Rapid 15)

NPS Photo by Neal Herbert

Rapid 15
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Ben Hurt (Rapid 20)

NPS Photo by Neal Herbert

Rapid 20
(Ben Hurt)
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Big Drop Two (Rapid 22)

NPS Photo by Neal Herbert

Rapid 22
(Big Drop Two)
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Big Drop Three (Rapid 23) from river left

NPS Photo by Neal Herbert

Raid 23
(Big Drop Three from river left)
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Did You Know?

Desert Bighorn Sheep

Desert bighorn sheep live year-round in Canyonlands. These animals make their home along the rivers, negotiating the steep, rocky talus slopes with ease. Once in danger of becoming extinct, desert bighorns are making a tentative comeback thanks to the healthy herds in Canyonlands. More...