Upper Canyon Adventures

Quick disclaimer, I know this is posted in August but occurred in April I just had to wait until I finally had a site to post it to!

Spring on the Colorado River is a truly special time, with rainbows still colored up from their spawn and beautiful temperatures. It is, in my opinion the best time of year to be there. The trip began Friday evening when all of our group finally got off work. After a late night drive towards Utah we pulled off on a two track dirt road. The road snaked through the high desert plains above the canyon rim. It seemed as though we were driving in circles, and without the gps we would have been lost for sure. We camped along the canyon rim and when we woke the next morning were rewarded with a view of the Colorado River at the bottom of the gorge.

Unfortunately for us, this was not the trailhead.. But more the beginning of the road to the trailhead. We bumped down BLM roads that appeared to be more of a guideline than a road through some stretches. The road meandered through high desert and around side canyons. At one point we were rewarded with the sight of pronghorn running off over the rise and out of sight. We finally reached the trailhead or the end of the road, seeing as they were one in the same. We began pulling our backpacks out of the truck and checking to make sure everything was where it should be. It seemed as though everyone had what they needed (a small miracle) and we set off.

The trail was steep to begin with and ran nearly straight down a break in the cliff. Halfway down a large limestone boulder blocked the way and we had to squeeze through a small opening where the boulder and cliff wall met. And by squeeze I mean backpack off and crawl through a hole smaller than a car window. This led us to a large scree field and finally the canyon bottom.

View back out of the side canyon

At the canyon bottom the hike became easier, walking on bedrock is always better than scree. The final obstacle came in the form of a 40 foot dry fall and a large, muddy pool. The dry fall was easily avoided by a short down climb to the side of it. The pool, not so much.

The route around the dry fall

To call it a pool is a generous term, it is more of a mud pit that if you stand still too long in, you begin to sink. The sinking was not like Indiana Jones quicksand, but it sure was enough to make it hard to get a shoe out if it went too deep! After the mud we had a short walk and we were at the river.

A look up canyon from the campsite

There is nothing like hiking through the dry heat of the canyon to suddenly come upon not only water, but cold, clear water and a lot of it! We were lucky and on this day the water was flowing clear and the water more reminiscent of Lees Ferry to the north. As soon as I was at the beach I discarded my pack and immediately began rigging my rod.

I spent the first couple of casts on some likely pockets but only found the bottom. I moved upstream to a more promising run and almost immediately the yellow thread of my indicator dove down, just caught the bottom in fast water… Next cast the indicator dives again! This time when I raise the rod a flash of silver comes with it. The first rainbow of the trip comes to hand. After a quick picture I sent the young fish back on its way.

The first of many on the trip, and the midge

The fishing was consistent but challenging for the day. Getting the fish on the line wasn’t the issue, keeping them on was the hard part. The water was moving fast where these fish were eating and when the indicator dropped you had better hold on if the fish gets out to the main current!


A few rainbows with cutthroat looking spots..

After a day of fishing and some climbing shenanigans we had a trout dinner on the beach and fell asleep under the incredible array of stars that is present so far from any towns lights.


A dinner sized fish

The next morning there was time for a few casts and then back into the side canyon.

Early Morning Casts
Early morning casts
Heading up canyon
Prickly pear bloom
Alternate route around the limestone blocks

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