moab
on the
green

/ routes / north america / Utah

route overview

distance:

120Mi / 193Km

solitude rating:

5+/5

portages:

0

loop or 1-way:

1-way

days:

10

difficulty:

9/10

rapids class rating:

0-1*

type:

River
Contributed by
Igor Muluks

Carving its way through 120 miles (193km) of slickrock dessert, Moab on the Green is a 10-day time-machine kayakpacking tour of ageless geologic and human history.  This route combines an adventurous, remote and challenging swift-water paddle with visually delightful Western movie set landscapes. A true treasure which has to rank among top 5 kayakpacking destinations in the lower-48.

Share
Watch the full adventure then come back here and plan your own.

Acquired by the United States from Mexico through the Treaty of Guadelupe-Hidalgo in 1848 this part of Utah is largely unchanged since the earliest human settlements dating back to around 600 AD.  Nomadic Shoshone and Ute tribes both called the the Green River basin home, the later of which still occupies land in the Uinta region.  Later explored by the Spanish and Mexicans you'll discover remnants of cliff dwellings and early western settlements which are all accessible within a few miles hike from your camps - explorations that we highly encourage.

From a put-in at Crystal Geyser the swift flowing Green will quickly take you into some of the most remote and beautiful stretches of the Moab Desert as you make your way to the takeout at Spanish Bottom.  Verdant banks of shadscale, sagebrush, cactus, and desert shrubs slowly give way to pinyon and juniper.  Cottonwoods, tamarisk, and willows are predominant throughout the river's length and make for well needed shade and wind-break during the mid-day heat but high-winds can loose widow-makers proving that as well prepared you might be for the usual river and reptilian hazards like strainers and snakes you might meet an early end to your journey from less obvious threats.

And threats there are a'plenty. Weather on this early May expedition was what you might expect in an extreme dessert environment.  Overnight temperatures in the low to mid 40's rise quickly into the mid 80's as the sun clears the high dessert peaks  – day 3 never reached above 50 in a cold rain. The swift currents of the Green - while helpful from a mileage standpoint - can be treacherous. Watch for whirlpools that draw in craft in like magnets. Mentally, the solitude alone could get the better of you if you are solo and unprepared.

The approximate half-way mark of the traverse comes as you enter the northern most part of Canyonlands National Park. 1,200ft mesas surround you from every side as you make your way to the confluence of the Green and Colorado.  Expect the last day to be perhaps the most challenging as the relative calm of the silty Green combine forces with the the better known white water of the Colorado.

The possibility of rapids in the III-IV class are real if you plan on continuing past the take out at Spanish Bottom. 

*White water route notes

The Colorado river - being the Colorado River - has the potential to deliver a parting punch just as you are reaching your take out. The Green in and of itself is a pleasure of a paddle but not withouts its hazards. It's swift water for sure but taken by itself we would have given the Green a I- rapids classification. Learn more about the international scale of river difficulty.

  • Tex's Riverways outfitters from Moab to shuttle to put-in at Crystal Geyser.
  • If you want to make a shorter trek it is possible to arrange a pickup at select locations along the lower Green.
  • Expect to encounter snakes if you spend much time on shore.  31 are native to Utah.  Several different varieties of rattlesnakes are the most common venomous snakes but, gophersnakes, and sidewinders are also venomous and common in the Moab.
  • Wild camping along the entire route. Hammocks are not a practical option on this route.
  • You must have a permit before entering Canyonlands National Park.  See https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/riverpermits.htm
  • Fires are only permitted in a fire pan or portable camp stoves once you enter The Canyonlands National Park.  Fire pans are available for rent at Tex's River Outfitters.

    See also https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/riverregulations.htm
  • Firewood is available to scavenge in most locations along the way but its really dry and burns fast so have plenty on hand before you break out the rice and beans.
  • One of the most challenging aspects of this route is the fact that you have to pack everything you need for the entire length.  Food, water, meds... everything. Depending on the time of the year you make this journey you may not see another person.
  • You can stock up at a market in Moab before leaving for Crystal Geyser.  There are not resupply option in Crystal Geyser.
  • The water is filterable but heavily silted.  Unless you are really confident in your ability to effectively back-flush your filter, bring enough cartridges or redundant systems then bring at least 1g/person/day.  More in the summer months.
  • The landscapes are amazing.  To do it all over again schedule 2-4 zero days to leave time for more exploration.  Limiting factor here is how much water you can pack in or are willing to filter
  • You must bring along a portable camp toilet if you plan on kayakpacking through Canyonlands.  Also available for rent at Tex's River Outfitters
  • If you are taking this one solo leave as detailed an itinerary as possible behind.
  • With a steady 4-6mph current one could easily make this route beginning to end in 4-days or less.
  • Tex's River Outfitters:  http://texsriverways.com/
IGOR MULUKS

IGOR (Iggy) MULUKS' idea of adventure is trying to find most wild and remote places to travel and explore. It can be found close to home in South Florida where he lives or as far away as Alaska. His camera is his only travel companion.

He was born in Baltic states, grew up close to nature and as a kid was out in the woods a lot since an early age. He's never lost passion for the outdoors and adventures.

VIEW ROUTES

Terms of Use: All water sports are inherently risky.  Always wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) while in a water craft of any kind. Kayakpacking should be considered dangerous and participating in this or any water sport can cause serious injury or death. As with each kayakpacking route guide published on KayakPACKING.co, should you choose to paddle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check on this or any adventure consult current local weather, water conditions, local laws and restrictions. While paddling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety, personal floatation, and navigational equipment. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated maps and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author/contributor is not guaranteed. kayakpacking.co LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, loss of life or any other such situation that might happen to individual paddlers kayaking or following this route.