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

    Canyonlands

    National Park Utah

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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 »

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

Rivers

photo: Sunrise at the Big Drops in Cataract Canyon
Sunrise at the Big Drops in Cataract Canyon
NPS Photo by Neal Herbert
 

The Colorado and Green rivers wind through the heart of Canyonlands, cutting through layered sandstone to form two deep canyons. Both rivers are calm upstream of the Confluence, ideal for canoes, kayaks and other shallow water craft. Below the Confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a world-class stretch of white water.

Flows

River flows are dependent upon snowmelt and rainfall. The character of the rivers changes dramatically depending on the season. High water generally stretches from early May to late June. Recorded river flows are available from the US Geological Survey, or by calling (801) 539-1311. Snowmelt peak flow forecasts are available from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.

Launch/Takeout Options

On both rivers, all launch ramps are outside park boundaries. Launch locations on the Green River include Green River State Park, Ruby Ranch or Mineral Bottom. On the Colorado, boaters typically use the Potash or Moab ramps.

There is no vehicle access to the rivers near the Confluence or in Cataract Canyon. While hiking trails lead to the rivers from each of the districts, these trails are too long and rugged to be seriously considered for shuttles, unless groups use equipment designed for this purpose (e.g. pack rafts).

Shuttle Services

Two companies are licensed to provide river shuttles (upstream and downstream) in Canyonlands National Park:

Tex's Riverways: (877) 662-2839 or (435) 259-5101
Tag-A-Long Expeditions: (435) 259-8946

For a list of shuttle services to destinations outside the park, visit www.discovermoab.com/shuttle.htm.

Did You Know?

Pinyon Pine

Pinyon pines do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new pine trees instead of a quick meal. More...