Rafting the Yampa River (5) 03-Jun-2022

Day 5: Jones Hole #1 Camp to Split Mountain

Today was our last day on the river. Always a bittersweet moment. The great desert rivers of the West are unique and compelling places – which has brought us back to them again and again for over 40 years. But any particular river adventure is finite (and cold beverages and hot showers beckon), so we (reluctantly) boarded the rafts for the journey to the take-out at Split Mountain.

From our camp at Jones Hole, we had a little more canyon to traverse before breaking out into the open at Island Park. This is like popping out of a tunnel onto an open plain. This abrupt transition is due, in part, to the Island Park Fault which sliced the canyon off at Red Wash. The day started out with mild temperatures under a dry, but opalescent, sky – which went full blue bird by the time we reached Island Park.

Morning at Jones Hole
Starting out under a pale sky
A little choppy water
That will still get you wet… πŸ˜‚
Entering Island Park
The bison petroglyph in Island Park
Looking back upstream
Artful clouds downstream
The Morgan Formation at Rainbow Park
The Morgan Formation signals our entry into Split Mountain Canyon

The expanse of flat water across Island Park ends at Rainbow Park. From here, a series of fun Class II-III rapids would quickly – this is one of the Green’s steepest sections – take us to our take-out at Split Mountain. But, first, we stopped for lunch. This was partly to eat and partly to let a mass of other rafts pass us. This section of the Green is open to single-day, non-commercial permits and these are well used. In addition, some commercial outfitters (including OARS) offer a one-day rafting adventure through the canyon. Better to give all these folks plenty of room to crash and bash through the rapids.

Lunch just past the Morgan Formation
And down Split Mountain Canyon (note all the rafts to the right)
Leaving Split Mountain Canyon

And then our 4-night, 5-day Yampa River adventures was over. πŸ˜₯ We pulled in to the take-out amongst a scrum of other rafters and found our way to the beach. One last fire line to unload our gear and get it to the shuttle that would take us back to Vernal.

At the take-out
The last fire line

Then, after saying goodbye to all our great guides, we headed for town and some wild revelry (ah, not). Diane, Wayne, Bonnie, and Jim drove back to California the next morning. Our return flight was canceled (not enough pilots), so we didn’t get home until the early hours of Sunday morning. πŸ˜• But that didn’t detract at all from what was, yet another, great rafting trip. 😁

Good-bye to the river

We’ve now done multi-day trips on all of the major rivers in the U.S. with significant rapids, some more than once. So what’s next? At a minimum, we’d like to raft the Chilco / Fraser system in British Columbia. We had a plan to do so 2 years ago and then, well you all know what happened then… Maybe in 2023 the border will be fully open and we can have another go at it. Hope springs eternal, etc., etc. 🀩


10 thoughts on “Rafting the Yampa River (5) 03-Jun-2022

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  1. We’d start at Bear Camp, descend the Chilco to the Fraser, then take-out at Gang Ranch. Most of the trip would be on the Chilco. We did the Tat/Alsek in 2018. Yes, that is an amazing trip. The Canadian bush pilots who flew us back to Whitehorse were almost as amazing. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. That’s fantastic. The Fraser is pretty big. Where are you starting?

    I paddled the Tatshenshini-Alsec Rivers a few years ago. Amazing trip.


  3. It was a good trip, in part because it didn’t get too hot! We still have plans to raft the Chilco & Fraser Rivers in BC – two of Canada’s great rivers. We were planning to do that in 2020 (cancelled) and then in 2021 (border restrictions) and then 2022 (more border issues, this time on the U.S. side). We have high hopes we’ll be able to do this trip in 2023. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gorgeous trip. This brings back memories of canoing the Green River from Moab years ago. So many great rivers in the US.


  5. That’s a tough question, as they’ve all been great in their own way. The Tat/Alsek in the Yukon was probably the wildest/most adventurous. But we’ve done the Grand Canyon twice (and may again) so that’s likely our favorite. 😁


  6. Thanks! The Yampa is typically run May through July. After that, it pretty much almost dries up. But going through Warm Springs at high water would be a wild, wild ride!


  7. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Your photos and descriptions are excellent ( as always !)

    Do you happen to know How late in the year is the Yampa runnable ?


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