Packrafting in Utah?

Hello - this is my first posting here, so please take it easy on me… :slight_smile:

I’m interested in buying a Packraft, but as I don’t know that much about their capabilities was wondering if anyone knew what the packrafting potential was in Utah. I live in Park City and it seems like there are plenty of little rivers around. ??

I’ve done a bunch of kayaking in the past and am intrigued by the idea of using packrafts for skiing and adventure outings, but perhaps also for fishing. Many of the rivers in Utah are bony, but have deeper channels which make wading across them kind of sporty. It seems like the shallow draft of a packraft would make many of these rivers quite floatable.

Thanks in advance,

Andrew, dunno about Utah but I use them for similar fishing access in Oz. BTW - if you are A.M. the ski mountaineer, did you ever eat that vegemite ?

Just the Kiwi version - Marmite, which is pretty good once I learned how to eat it. My first attempt involved loading up a piece of toast with about a 1/2" thick layer of it, which almost sent me to the hospital with salt induced dehydration. My Kiwi friend got a good laugh out of that - “It’s not peanut butter! Just a thin smear.”

Alpaca Packrafts = the dynafit of the paddling world

I’m sure you’ll be able to find many places to use a packraft throughout Utah. If those are not to your liking, you’ll just have to visit other places so as to put it to use. :wink:

:smiley: Yes, less is more with the 'mites.

PR is on the righ ttrack with the dynafit comparison - they both seem way to shaky at first, but once you realise where they have been and how they can be driven, you begin to marvel.

I’m sold on the concept, I just need to sell some gear to finance my Packraft. :slight_smile:

Do they do well in shallow, rocky water? I’m assuming they probably will because of the shallow draft, but wonder how tough they are.

I’m also wondering about spray skirt vs. not. I’d like to be able to jump in/out and carry a pack, which may be tougher with a skirt.

They are as tough as you could want them to be. I’ve been dragging one of mine over rocks for years with no problems at all. Watch some of the crazy packrafting videos on YouTube and you’ll be easily convinced.

I do a lot of fishing with my packraft and I think the spray skirt is preferable when landing a fish. Without the skirt, you toss the fish in the boat and get slime and water everywhere (unless you net it and put it straight on a stringer). With the skirt you have a flat surface to work with that you can wash off with a few handfuls of water. If you’re fishing for anything with spines, it’s also nice to keep the fish away from your legs and the float tubes. They’re quite tough but they won’t stand up to a hard impact with a needle-sharp point. :slight_smile:

They’re very tough. I’m consistently impressed with the durability of the materials and quality of workmanship. Also it’s difficult, when topping off by mouth, to get so much pressure in the tubes that they’re rock-hard and more likely to puncture. I’ve slammed many a sharp edge of Chugach Choss with barely a mark.

The advantage of having the skirt is that you have the option to use it, or not. Sometimes when doing low-water more technically challenging runs, I don’t close the skirt all the way. In these situations having a graceful exit from the boat is more of a concern than keeping the boat dry. My boat has the older center-open skirt, as opposed to the newer side-open, so I can’t speak to how the side-open skirts work for use while open. The typical method for carrying a pack is to tie it to the bow, so the skirt is not a hindrance for rigging gear in this way.


You are going through the standard phases of packraft introduction… Something like: damn, they’re expensive but really useful… I’ll probably just use if for easy stuff… Do I really need all those extras?.. Before you know it you’ve got the whole setup. Check out the posts of rafting Utah’s canyon country. Lots of possibilities in your neck of the woods. Alaskans are using them for combined ski/raft or climb/raft trips to cut out half a flight and add another element. If you plan to run anything splashy the spray deck is highly desireable. If you plan to run anything in Alaska where you might swim a drysuit is almost mandatory, not sure about Utah water temperature.

Spring for it and don’t look back. Probably the greatest challenge you’ll have is finding partners or convincing your friends to buy their own.

The correlation between backcountry skiing and packrafting is huge. Think about all those rivers on the map as couloirs. No trails necessary.

Welcome aboard Andrew ! I see fromyour straightchuter blog you have joined us !

Yep! So far, so good although I’m still trying to figure out exactly where to take it.

Andrew - I lived in Park City for six years (until 2002), and looking back, I would have loved to have owned a packraft when I was there. You’ve got a lot of options. There are posts in this forum about Canyonlands, Escalante, and the Green River (a section north of Canyonlands). Here are a few more suggestions, but keep in mind that this is based on my foggy memory, and I haven’t run most of them, so use your best judgement.

Easy places to get started near Park City: East Canyon Creek beyond Jeremy Ranch might be a good one, if there is enough water. I recall thinking that is boat-able, but I’m not sure. You could make a loop by hiking up Little Emigration Canyon, along the ridge to Parley’s Summit then down to East Canyon Creek for the float back. I think sections of the Weber River could be good also, even as close as Wanship. I bet there are good sections of the Provo River too. That stuff is all road-accessible (maybe a little too accessible).

Once you are familiar with the boat, I would head south to the desert. There are a ton of options down there. See the Escalante or Canyonlands posts, or maybe try the Virgin River near Zion NP. The Uintas are also very intriguing, but I don’t know if any of those rivers are runnable. Once you do one trip, your brain will start racing with lots of other potential trips. My brain’s already racing. Maybe its time for a trip to Utah.

Here’s a good list of Utah Rivers, if you haven’t used it already:

They say Dinosaur National Monument rivers are good boating…

One strategy is to buy another boat for your friends and do rivers everyone else does in “real boats” to calibrate yourselves. Plan on doing hiking in and outs – e.g. hike down to Spanish Bottom in Canyonlands, run Catarcat and hike out. So there you have an example of normal boat run with hike in and out. Do the same for creeks, then start exploring!

That’s the beauty of packrafts right now. Most packrafters are in discovery-mode, it’s not yet trade-stamped.

Hey Andrew,

You may remember me from my Utah days as an avalanche forecaster. Glad to see you are looking into packrafting. Like the others have said, jump in and don’t look back. Go for a decked boat, too, because I suspect you will want to push the envelope. These boats are amazingly tough, functional, and fun.

I would think that both the Uintas and Winds would provide some great packrafting potential. You should hook up with Forrest McCarthy in Jackson, WY. I suspect you two would hit it off.

Boat on,

Brad Meiklejohn
Eagle River, Alaska

What’s up andrew

My name is Thomas, and I just moved to Summit Co, more specifically I live in Coalville. I just purchased an Alkpacka,and I think that there are tons of rivers to “shoot”. You should buy a boat and we could tear it up as a team.

Rivers that I’m looking at

  1. Chalk creek (in coalville during flood stage)
  2. Weber River (the whole river)
  3. Bear River (in evanston wy, there is a section that was designed and built for kayakers and rafters)
  4. The Green river
  5. You can also fish on all of the lakes here, rockport, echo, east canyon, etc, etc
  6. I’m already planning trips, and I want to make some of these trips that are posted on the forum.

Howdy andrew

i just moved to coalville, and i just recieved my alpacka in the mail. Lets hit some of our local rivers together. All i need is a buddy system. There are so many good rivers within 45 minutes. Examples; weber river below echo, the provo, the bear river in evanston wyoming is a great beginner river because they have engineered it as a kayak river through town with boulders and drops. Let me know if u get a boat, or if you just want to see my boat in action before u purchase one, i’m willing to let u try mine if it means u buy one.

Anyone know if it might be possible to float the East Fork of the Virgin from near Mt. Carmel Junction to the Zion Park boundary (or all the way through the Park). Where does it hit the main Virgin? Any idea if it gets enough water in say late April - early May? Isn’t that when the Muddy or Dirty Devil or Escalante would be best run too?

I live in Alaska and a bunch of us are hot to bring our packrafts south in spring 2011 for a couple of weeks of sun and water time before our rivers are runable up north here.

Check out what we will be doing with our packrafts again this winter — playing packraft water polo, like what the WW kayakers have done for years. We think we were the 1st to play polo in PRs, last winter. :smiley: :astonished: :open_mouth: :stuck_out_tongue:

There will be plenty of water. That would be the least of your problems. First is that lower Parunaweep Canyon (the lowest section of the East Fork inside the park) is a research area that is closed to all human visitation. Second is at least one big waterfall near the park boundary. Third would be what I would imagine to be some good rapids at normal spring flows.

Look into floating the Narrows around that time. You’ll want 2-300 cfs. A hike up, float out of the lower East Fork (on BLM land outside the park) might be interesting as well.

If you check this forum:
under Jun 11,2010, middle of page 4, there’s some photos of a packraft/snow sliding outing that Andrew and I went on in the Uintas some months ago.