Spring Escalante - Request for Partners

Sitting here in Salt Lake enjoying this massive weather system moving through most of the western US, and have heard from some buddies down in Escalante that huge amounts of snow dropped (heard 36 inches in town itself…) It’s got me thinking one thing - floating the river come spring.

I’m pretty flexible, but I’m trying to put together a packraft/technical canyon trip. Plan on putting in at the bridge, and floating to coyote gulch, and exiting back out the gulch, or crack in the wall. But can also consider Egypt bench to start, if time is an issue. I’ve got a handful of technical canyons along the route, and would love to do a day of floating, day of canyons, if anyone is interested. Possible canyons include Neon, Choprock, West Baker, and possibly some of the wingate slots farther south.

Dates are up in the air, and of course depends on the snowpack and melt, but late april, early may seems reasonable.

You can get me at danransom AT gmail dot com if you you have any interest.

I have been mulling over an Escalante or Dirty Devil trip this spring myself. I looked at the watershed data a week or so ago and thought that things weren’t looking that great down there (not that great up here in Jackson Hole either!) Still hoping to do one of those trips this spring though. My schedule is pretty flexible after about April 6th, could head out with a few days notice. I’m not a technical canyoneer, just love the water and wandering the canyons. I am hoping to get some of my local pals to come along but would be interested in hooking up with some new people if none of them can pull themselves away from our corn snow season.
Do you have a rough idea of when you will do heading down there, when does the historically high water happen?


the current snow water equivalent on the escalante drainage is well above average. it’s nothing like the epic year in 2005, but it will certainly flow this spring, so long as we get a little more snow over the next 8 weeks.

typical snowmelt begins mid-april and peaks in mid may, sometimes lasting into early june. for a packraft trip, i’m planning roughly the end of april, beginning of may, subject to change of course. hard to really nail down the best dates, but i’ve got a feeling there will be a pretty solid window for packraft trips this spring.


It is soooo nice to hear that there is a good snowpack down there! My email is fancyplants at wyoming dot com, please email me if you need partners and when you zero in on a timeframe (I know that it may be short notice) My work situation is very flexible right now so I can go with little notice. I’m still working on a Jackson crew for the trip, some of us are packrafters, some have IKs.


Dan, this is Bucky. Yes, that Bucky, from Freeze Fest, etc. The Escalante River float is a must do for me this year. My window is the first 2 weeks of May. Let’s talk.

Will you be posting possible dates and trip logistics.? I’m not sure how it’s humanly possible to fit something else into my springtime crazieness but I sure would like to try!

My wife and I were hiking some of the slot canyons off the Hole in the Rock Road earlier this week. We stopped in at the BLM center. The snowpack is 130% of normal. So it should be a good spring for rafting the Escalante. Currently running 15-20cfs. We would be interested in a trip if the timing is right and can arrange work schedule etc.


We have an Escalante trip going from May 16 to the 22nd. Putting in at the bridge and getting a boat pickup on the silt sump. Shared cost for the boat and shuttle. Mark and Vicki at the Utah Canyons Store have taken on the task of planning the trip and at this point there are only three of us starting out with the possibility of two others hiking in from Coyote to join us for the last night and the float to the reservoir. We will all be using packrafts.

We will hike some canyons but probably no “gonzo” hikes. At least I won’t be doing any of those. :neutral_face:

I suggest if anyone is interested in joining us that you contact Mark and Vicki at the store because I don’t know how many more they would want. I do know that Vicki would like to not be the only woman on the trip, which is presently the case.

The Escalante has been on my wish list for a long time. I am pretty flexible w/ dates, but who knows where I’ll be when, so some advance planning is helpful. I have done a few of the slots down there (neon, egypt 3, and davis gulch), and I wouldn’t mind repeating or doing some new ones.

you can e-mail me with my username at gmail.


I don’t suppose this is the same Dan that did the Escalante in '03 in an alpacka ?? - Me and some friends gave you a ride and partied in Torrey …???

Either way, at the moment me and 3 friends are planning to head down on May 5th. We are planning to meetup with a relative in lake Powell 6 days later.

If any of you that have done this trip before I’d love it if you could give me your thoughts…

#1 - I’d like to have a bit of time to explore some side canyons. Which do you think are the best to check out ?
#2 - Looks like we’ll have 6 or 7 days… does that sound like enough to include a bit of time to at least check out several side canyons, and float down to meet a boat in powell ?

Any comments would be appreciated !

Hello, Hello. I am hoping to make it down from AK to float the Escalante in Spring of 2011, snowpack permitting. Did the spring 2010 trips discussed here occur? Any advice to share? Did anybody miss out on it last year that might want to try for it again this spring?



I did end running the Escalante this spring with a group of people that I was introduced to via this forum!We were on the water from May 16-22 and the flows were at a minimum during the whole trip (2-15 cfs at the gauge) We did the whole thing, Hiway 12 to the lake. I would highly recommend (and next time I will) run from Fence Canyon to Coyote Gulch. The Russian olive was really intense in the upper canyon (it ripped a 3 inch tear in a team members brand new packraft!) and getting out to the lake bared a close resemblance to torture. We had no time for hikes, had to spend all of our time working our way down the river. The water was low, and we drug our butts on the bottom a bunch, but it was definitely runnable. I am game to do it again next spring, this time I am hoping for early April- also considering the Dirty Devil. Keep me in mind!

Thanks for the info Theresa.

I’d like to do the Escalante this year. My inclination is to do a hike-raft loop. Starting near the head of Moody Canyon south of the petrified forest: go overland on the bench between Neon and Choprock to the river, float down to Stevens, then hike up and out of Stevens, across the top of the Waterpocket Fold, then down into the head of East Moody and back to the cars.

When are you thinking about doing the float and hike trip you describe here, Dave? How many days?

Does it include any technical travel; require carrying rap gear?

Being new to the area, will you please suggest the best big/ medium picture base maps to see the area you are talking about.

For the public record (more than a few have asked via PM):

The land portion of this loop follows a route Steve Allen publically pioneered in his Canyoneering 3 book. Highly recommended, extremely precise beta. I haven’t done the exit out of Stevens Canyon, but have found my way into the head of East Moody from up on the Waterpocket Fold. The latter requires very advanced off trail navigation through complex cliff bands and side canyons. Not too bad (ie bring a rope for handing down packs) if you get it right, hazardous or impossible if you get it wrong.

The Trails Illustrated map provides a good enough overview, and is enough for navigation on the ground if you have your stuff in order. Having sections of quads for the tricky sections is a good idea.

Seems to be a lot of expert knowledge here, so maybe you all could offer some advice. I will be in the Escalante Canyons region the last two weeks of April 2011; I was planning on just backpacking and mountain biking, until I came upon some packrafting articles and this forum. Packrafting sounds fantastic, especially down the Esclante River, I’ll be sure to join the fun soon.

My question is this - should I jump right into packrafting on the Escalante this April (obviously this is dependant on the spring melt river flows, I’m asking in general, I would not attempt my first packraft if flows too high), and is this something that should not be done solo (solo is my plan right now.) I’m not an expert paddler…

Any thoughts and comments appreciated, feel free to PM if you don’t want to post, too. Thanks!

I’m also planning to pack the Escalante this April but just got this from Escalante Interagency Visitor Center:

“Sorry for this delayed response…In short, yes, you show up at our
visitor center, there is no fee or limit to permit given out, so just stop
in and pick it up. FYI we do not have much snow in the area this year,
there is still a bit of time left to get some, but it is not looking
promising for 2011 to be a runnable year on the Escalante.
Torrian Nelson
Park Ranger”

I did mention packraft so he must know levels can be low for us.
Don’t know if anyone knows any better. I’m happy to go there anyway and hike instead.

Chris S

Snowpack in the region was affected by a strong La Nina pattern for 6 weeks. However, from local folks I have talked to recently, the Escalante almost always has a runnable flow for packrafts. The key is to have a very flexible schedule from Late-April to Late-May. Highly fickle but still possible. March and april also tend to be wet months in the desert mountains so we could see a significant increase in snowpack (the jet stream looks very friendly for this option). We could also see a warm rain event that pushes runoff much earlier than normal. A lot of “coulds”.

Best of luck and jealous.