Paddling the John Wesley Powell Route: Exploring the Green and Colorado Rivers

Paddling the John Wesley Powell Route: Exploring the Green and Colorado Rivers

by Mike Bezemek
Paddling the John Wesley Powell Route: Exploring the Green and Colorado Rivers

Paddling the John Wesley Powell Route: Exploring the Green and Colorado Rivers

by Mike Bezemek


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On May 24, 1869, John Wesley Powell and nine crewmen in four wooden rowboats set off down the Green River to map the final blank spot on the American map. Three months later, six ragged men in only two boats emerged from the Grand Canyon. And what happened along the rugged 1,000 river miles in between quickly became the stuff of legend. Today, the JWP route offers some of the most adventurous paddling in the United States. Across six southwestern states, paddlers will find a surprising variety of trips. Enjoy flatwater floats through Canyonlands and the Uinta Basin; whitewater kayaking or rafting in Dinosaur National Monument and Cataract Canyon; afternoon paddleboarding on Flaming Gorge Reservoir and Lake Powell; multiday expeditions through Desolation Canyon and the Grand Canyon; and much more, including remarkable hikes and excursions to ancestral ruins, historic sites, museums, and waterfalls. Paddling the John Wesley Powell Route is a narrated guide that combines a multi-chapter retelling of the dramatic 1869 expedition with stunning landscape photography, modern discoveries along the route, overview maps, and information about permits, shuttles, access points, rental equipment, guided trips, and further readings. Come celebrate the dramatic 1869 expedition by exploring the route and learning the story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493034819
Publisher: Falcon Guides
Publication date: 10/01/2018
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Mike Bezemek’s writing and photography has been published by Canoe & Kayak, Adventure Cyclist, Adventure Journal, Red Bulletin, FalconGuides, and more. Connect with him at

Table of Contents

Foreword: Welcome To The Powell Route! x

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction xvi

The Many Paths to Becoming a Powell Route "Pilgrim" xix

Types of Trips xxi

What to Expect along the Route xxiii

Equipment for the Route xxxiii

Resources: Books, Films, Museums, and Courses xxxviii

Shucks, I Dare You to Watch Disney's Ten Who Dared xliii

How To Use This Book xlvi

Trip Finder By Duration and Character li

Map Legend liv

0 Upper Green River and Lakes 1

Upstream of the Powell route, paddle beneath the dramatic Wind River Range or through a peaceful wildlife refuge.

State-by-State Watercraft Regulations

Name That River: The Green, the Colorado-and the Grand?

Prologue: "All" of History Before 1869, with Apologies, in Seven Paragraphs

1 Flaming Gorge Reservoir 19

From Expedition Island to a surreal desert reservoir, the first "official" segment offers everything from easy day trips to a 90-mile proving ground for through-paddlers.

Outfitters, Services, and Supplies for Flaming Gorge Country and Red Canyon

Who Starts from an Island?

1869, Part 1: those Early, Carefree Days Near Naming Gorge

2 Red Canyon and Browns Park 40

Join the crowds and then leave them along 47 miles of the Green River with five sections, ranging from a famous scenic gorge to a forgotten and empty valley.

Oh., My Hands, the Humanity!

1869, Part II: Well, It Wasn't Named Disaster Fails Chat of Irony

3 Lodore, Whirlpool, and Split Mountain Canyons 62

The Powell routes best 4-day trip takes paddlers through a billion years of twisted geology, the otherworldly Echo Park, and plenty of class III rapids.

Oudfiters, Services, and Supplies rot Dino, Uinta Basin, and Deso

Lone, Days in Lodore; or, What's the Deal with Dino?

4 Uinta Basin 82

A hundred miles of low bluffs and lazy river, this little-paddled segment is almost a blank spot on the modern river-runners map that's well worth exploring.

River Advocate Fills "Blank Spot" in Uinta Basin

1869, Part III: into Desolation with the judgment and Luck of Schoolboys

5 Desolation and Gray Canyons 101

Float through two abandoned canyons, with ample ruins, petroglyphs, hikes, wildlife, and class II rapids. This week-long trip is a natural amusement park for paddlers.

Deso/Solo; or Searching tor Sumner's Amphitheater

Commercial Outfitters for Deso/Gray

6 Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons 121

Two roughly 50-mile trips on the Green River can be run separate or together, offering perhaps the finest flatwater paddling through the desert southwest and Canyonlands National Park.

River Maps and Guides for Canyonlands Area

Professor Loads Expedition Down the Powell Route for Sesquicentennial Rediscovery

1869, Part IV: Let's Go Name Cool Stuff in Canyonlands!

7 Cataract Canyon 141

Attention adrenaline-seekers (who don't mind some flatwater): The middle 15 miles of this multiday trip on the Colorado River include some of the largest rapids along the route.

Outfitters and Services for Cataract Canyon

8 Lake Powell and Glen Canyon 151

Powells beloved canyon is flooded behind a controversial dam, but paddling options abound on the reservoir and 15 miles of Colorado River offer lofty insight into what once was.

Lake Powell Skeptics Call Truce During Winter Crossing

A "Trade" That Never Happened?

1865, Part V: Is Glen Canyon More Light and Airy Than Our Boats?

9 Grand Canyon 176

Ridiculous scenery, amazing side hikes, crashing whitewater-this multiday trip of a lifetime through Marble and Grand Canyons is what you came for So, let's get on with it!

Commercial Trips through Grand Canyon

Private Trip Equipment Outfitters and Shuttle Services

1869, Part VI: About That: Whole "Worst Rapid" Thing above Grand Canyon

10 Lower Colorado River and Reservoirs 197

Below the Powell route, there are many paddling opportunities, including Black Canyon of the Colorado, aka The Vegas of float trips" (more about hot springs than solitude).

From Source-to-Sea along the Green and Colorado Rivers

1869 Epilogue: .After the Expedition-Plus, Who Was JWP?

About the Author 218

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