Advise a simple river in the Southwest for March, please

Hello everybody!

We are packrafters from Ukraine, we arrive in Los Angeles on March 8 for two weeks and plan, if possible, to make a small floating for 5-10 days in Southwest states.

Originally viewed the Escalante River, however, realized that in March there would be big water.
Can you advise a suitable simple river, with rapids not exceeding Class I-II or with the possibility of their detour.

Hello Inguri:

While it will all depend upon water flow which will depend upon winter 2018/2019 snowfall (if there is any…) I’d suggest researching the following (all assuming you’ll rent a car in Los Angeles for the two weeks):

  1. Verde River in Arizona. Beasley Flats to Sheep Bridge & other sections to North.

  2. Salt River in Arizona. Some stiff rapids, but you could portage.

  3. Many sections of the Gila River in New Mexico and Arizona.

  4. Green River in Utah from town of Green River to the Green/Colorado confluence.

  5. Colorado River “Ruby/Horsethief”

  6. San Juan River Bluff to Clay hills Crossing.

Let me know if you’d like more detail about some of these.

Howard Snell.

Hello Howard!
Thank you very much for the answer.
I’ll begin to study the options that you provided.

So far, I like the Green River in Utah from Mineral Bottom to the Green/Colorado confluence.

What weather can be expected at these dates (10-20 March)?
Snow, frost, sub zero temperatures (in Celsius)?

I know, I know, this is a packrafting forum and you asked about specific rivers to explore. But, if I were traveling from a different country, I would be more interested in seeing the country, rather than focusing only a single river. So here is a possible loop trip that would get you out paddling and give you the opportunity to see more of the beautiful Southwestern US.

  • LAX
  • Joshua Tree (anyone in your group rock climb?)
  • Camp Verde (day paddling trips on the Verde River and/or Fossil Creek)
  • Sedona
  • S. rim Grand Canyon National Park
  • Get a back haul (motor boat) ride upstream from Lees Ferry to the bottom of Lake Powell and paddle the Colorado back down to Lee’s Ferry (or do the challenging backpacking/packrafting loop)
  • Brice Canyon National Park
  • Escalante river if there is enough water (don’t worry, it won’t be too high)
  • Capital Reef National Park
  • Dirty Devil River (probably too low by then)
  • Green River and/or Muddy Creek
  • Zion National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • LAX
    Wow, I am tired just thinking about this. Definitely way more than you can hope to do in a couple months, let along a couple weeks. But just pick and choose as you go depending on the weather, water levels, and your interests.
    If you want to discuss this type of trip more, feel free to send me a PM and I’ll try to help you out.

As to your question about the weather along the Green, it isn’t likely to be all that cold (perhaps cool with lows just above freezing), but it could be windy, especially in the spring. Just look at any of the weather sites for the historical averages.

Enjoy and have fun.

The Dirty Devil should definitely be on your radar for mid March. they start diverting water out as early as April. I have done it three times, all in March/early April. Very finicky river for flows- no doubt. It’s always a gamble. While I like the upper stretch best for scenery (angel cove or dump road - poison springs) the lower stretch is more forgiving during low flows as the channel is more restricted (Poison Springs-Hite)

Escalante will not be too high, and in reality will have minimal flow. The Aquarius Plateau above the river will still be seeing freezing temps at night and likely still have plenty of snow. If the snow up there isn’t melting, that usually equates to low flows in Escalante.

Green River is good in March. Can do the daily stretch outside of the town of Green River or Overnight stretches outside of Moab on the Stillwater section ( This can be very slow going and underwhelming in a packraft- but still beautiful)

San Juan is also a great March float- I’d prefer later March for that one. Permit required for that one and stipulations for carrying fire pans and human waste systems. But in all honesty- these Leave No Trace actions should be taken on all rivers.

Howard and Bend Boater also have great suggestions for more… Hope you have a great time! All this talk is getting me amped for spring floating!

Thanks to everyone who responded for the advice.

Yes, you are right in many respects, but I hope to return to the USA more than once.
I prefer multi-day travel in the no people bush.

To date, it has been decided to make rafting on the Green River and a few days in the Maze.
5+3 days

If I understand correctly, I must separately do a river permit and a backpacking permit?

Now I do not know where I will spend the night last night - on the Spanish Bottom or on the rim near Doll House’s.
So it may happen that on the overnight camping near Doll House’s I will have river permit or vice versa, on Spanish Bottom I will have backpacking permit.
This is a big problem, and the ranger will arrest me? :smiley: