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Due to rising temperatures, mountain snowpack in the Upper Colorado River basin is melting and generating high flows on the Colorado and Green Rivers through Canyonlands National Park. In the last forecast issued on May 19th, the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center projected that there is a 50 percent probability that peak mean daily flows through Canyonlands will exceed 24,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) on the Green River, 37,000 cfs on the Colorado River above the Confluence, and 60,000 cfs on the Colorado River below the Confluence in Cataract Canyon. Peak flows normally occur during the period from mid-May until mid-June. High river flows can present many types of challenges to boaters, and river users should be aware of high-flow conditions when planning their trips. Boater awareness and appropriate planning are necessary for a successful river trip.
For the latest information on current and forecast river flows, see the following:
Real-time streamflow data for Utah - https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ut/nwis/rt
Colorado Basin River Forecast Center - http://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/
Information for White Rim Users
High water on the Green River floods the White Rim road, making it impassable at Upheaval Bottom and the northwest park boundary area. White Rim users should contact the Island in the Sky Visitor Center (435-259-4712, ext.0) for road conditions. Carry extra fuel and be prepared to exit via the Shafer Trail or Potash Road. Off-road travel to avoid flooded road sections is prohibited.
Information for River UsersThe Green and Colorado Rivers and the nature of your boating experience can change significantly at high flows. Boaters should be aware of the following -
Fewer campsites are available during high-flow conditions than during low-flow conditions.
It is important to use the campsite register boxes located at Potash and Mineral Bottom to determine campsite availability and indicate your campsite plans to other boaters.
Be aware that you may have to share camps with other boating parties.
Talk to other boaters to coordinate camping and share information about river conditions.
Avoid expanding the size of campsites when possible.
Flows are faster during high-flow conditions.
- Landings can be more challenging in fast water.
- Plan ahead and use your river map to maintain constant awareness of where you and your boating companions are located on the river.
Water temperatures are cold during high-flow conditions.
- Although air temperatures may be hot, water temperatures will be cold, so be mindful that hypothermia is a real hazard. Take precautions to protect yourself from the effects of cold water.
- Although State law does not require boaters to wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) above the Confluence, wearing your PFD during cold, high-flow conditions is a good practice.
- Increase the stability of your boat and decrease the likelihood of turning over by keeping equipment and other heavy items as low as possible in the boat.
- Be aware that winds often increase during the afternoon and can cause choppy waves and difficult boating conditions.
- Ensure that you have a plan for self-rescue if your boat turns over. Travel in groups and stay close together.
Rapids change in difficulty depending on river flows.
- Always scout rapids when in doubt.
- Experience with high-volume whitewater is recommended if you plan to run Cataract Canyon at these high flows.
- High flows in Cataract Canyon will create powerful hydraulics – large waves, dangerous holes, swift current, and eddy lines that are capable of flipping rafts.
- You must be prepared for self-rescue.
- You can move your trip to a later date to avoid the high flows.
NPS river rangers will be making periodic patrols on the rivers, but will not maintain an extended presence below the rapids in Cataract Canyon.