Dirty Devil River trip prep feedback


A group of friends and I are putting together a Dirty Devil River trip for late-March/early-April (flows willing). I’m in the process of pulling together all the gear I’ll need and have some questions, mainly regarding what to wear. I’m currently leaning towards wearing a 3mm NRS farmer john with some sort of Gore-tex (or other material) splash top. I figure I can add layers under the top and swap out the wetsuit for pants at night while camping. I’m also thinking of just wearing neoprene socks in Chacos with the idea being I can swap out wet the neoprene socks at night for something dry and warm (wool?) while camping. Sound reasonable? Anything you’d do differently? Any other tips for the trip? We only have about a week, so we might just run half (i.e. Hanksville to Poison Springs or Poison Springs to Hite) so that we have more time to explore side canyons, etc., and enjoy the trip.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!


Take some warm riverboots that cant get sucked off in the quicksand

Wear windproof pants over your wetsuit as well. There is a very consistent headwind.

Expect to do some walking sometimes at flows below 150 cfs, especially for the first day or two below hanksville.

Thanks for the feedback, DD. You’re the third person who’s recommended river boots/closed-toe shoes, so it sounds like the Chacos are out. Any recommendations on a specific boot that would be good? I was thinking maybe NRS ATBs, but maybe something that laces up would be better to help keep them on in the muck. And yeah, from everything I’ve read, I’m assuming walking/dragging will be a part of the trip, at least at first.

Any thoughts on the utility of a water filter like an MSR MiniWorks (http://www.rei.com/product/695265/msr-miniworks-ex-water-filter) for this trip? I’ve heard you can get away with it if you let the water settle in a collapsible bucket first. Others say that it’ll just plug up. How much water do you carry with you?

Thanks again for your help.


Gorgeous place! Can’t wait to get back there. Depending on where you go, watch for petrified dino prints, moki steps, mining “artifacts”, arches, petroglyphs… And of course soaring canyon walls, tight slots, wildlife… Nice to get a burger and milkshake in Hanksville when you’re done, too.

Quicksand: Prevalent in and along the river. Secure shoes are key. If stuck, move slow & steady, and distribute your weight over more surface area (hands & knees, belly). Wiggling will work you in deeper. Often it is easier to walk along the higher vegetated benches (cottonwood, sagebrush, willow, tamarisk) than to walk along the open sand bars (and quick sand) along the river.

Drinking water: There is clear fresh water in some of the side canyons, though I don’t know/remember which. I have used river water after letting it settle overnight in a desperate situation, but that is not ideal. We had only a small pot, so we dug a deep hole in a firm sand bar, lined it with a garbage bag, then filled it up with river water, then let that settle before filtering it (or did we use iodine?). Alum (used in pickling, found in the spice aisle) is sometimes used to help settle particulates out of murky water. Though I’ve drunk my share, I’m not sure if this is a healthy thing to do, or what an ideal dose might be. The straight river water will clog up a filter in no time flat!
Plan to drink at least 1 gallon per person per day, plus water for cooking if needed.

Thanks for the information, Aiyana! Sounds like it might not hurt to tie on an extra dromedary bag or something in addition to what’s in my pack and then bring the filter and collapsible bucket to augment that. Thanks again!

It might not be in your preference, but I just use an eyedropper full of unscented bleach to sanatize my water. Bleach from the grocery store is watered down to 3% to 6%. FEMA recommends 2 drops per a quart to sanitize water for 30 minutes before drinking, but they dont specify what percentage the bleach be. If you use too many drops 4 or more per a quart for 3% bleach, then it will make your mouth ‘hot’ and taste bad. Also, bleach degrades into sodium chloride over time rendering it inaffective. CLORAX recommends that you replace bleach after 6 months to a year after its manufacture. Usually it sits on the store self for a couple of months, so I would recommend using it for sanatizing drinking water within 3 months of purchase. Bleach may not be as effective at killing sufficient levels of cryptosporidium, which causes more immediate, but less sevier yet similar symptoms to that of giardia infection. Also, some people are more resiliant against these infections than others. I have been using bleach as my primary means of water purification for years, even on the Dirty Devil without waiting for the water to settle without getting sick, but maybe that’s just me.

I do fine with booties that zip up 4 or 5 inches above the ankles. Ive had troubles with laced boots going undone even with a double knot, and then stepping on the laces as I trudge through the streams. Even when I wrap the laces around a velcro closure at the top, they still go undone.

Also, dont butt scoot your way down the short rapids if the water is low on the DD. I tore holes through my floor doing that. Poison Springs canyon has water. I do not know if the water is poisonous, but I drank from it without dieing.

Was lucky enough to be able to float it last year, end of March, Poison Springs to the reservoir, warm and windy. I think several of us wore trunks and wool t-shirts or similar and were fine. Others seemed to be quite bundled up, no wet suits. But March weather can be about anything, so… My gut feeling is that quick-dry trunks were an advantage over sitting in rubber all day.

I wore Keen sandals and put on wool socks for sleeping. But again, we had warm weather. The wind did blow like heck. “But it’s a dry wind…”

We carried all the water we needed for one night on the river.

My main suggestion for myself was to do the same 1.5 days on the river in about 4 or 5 days to leave more time for exploring. Which would require water, which is almost surely available with some scrounging and treatment of some kind.