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The Gunnison River: Escalante Creek to Bridgeport

Saturday, May 7, 2022 | Average CFS: 2,635

This weekend I was looking to stay local and to get back on the river for the first time this season, so I made plans with my friend Jackson to float a section of the Gunnison River along the northeastern edge of the Uncompahgre Plateau from Escalante Creek to Bridgeport on Saturday morning- assuming the windy weather we’ve been having across the Southwest would cooperate! Although I have floated this section of the Gunnison River once before back in 2009, that time I tagged along with a friend in his raft and I really don’t remember much about the trip, so I was looking forward to getting back with my own inflatable kayak this time. In order to try to beat the wind, Jackson and his son Ken met me at my house early in the morning and transferred their gear into my Jeep. We then dropped Jackson’s car off at Bridgeport and headed over to the boat ramp at Escalante Creek. After inflating and rigging our kayaks, we were on the water shortly before 8:30am.

Here’s our three boats at the Escalante Creek Boat Ramp ready to get on the river. Ken was going to be paddling the Kokopelli packraft on his own this time.

Escalante Creek Boat Ramp

It was a nice morning to be on the river since the temperature hadn’t dropped much overnight and there were some nice clouds in the sky, plus the wind hadn’t started up yet!.

Gunnison River Clouds

Aside from a couple riffles, most of this float is easy flatwater. With the lower water levels this spring we weren’t sure how fast the river was going to be moving this morning, but it kept up a good pace and was moving quicker than we expected.

Below The Cliffs

Ken enjoyed having Jackson’s packraft to himself this morning.

Kokopelli Ken

It was a beautiful morning on the Gunnison River.

On The Gunnison River

Morning Clouds

Gunnison River Morning

Gunnison River View

We stopped for an early lunch and took a short hike into Leonards Basin.

A Canyon Walk

Leonards Basin

Leonards Basin

My first photo of a Claret Cup Cactus this year.

Claret Cup

Then it was back on the river with the clouds, cliffs and railroad tracks.

Clouds, Cliffs & Tracks

This was a very scenic stretch of the canyon.

Gunnison River Bluffs

Jackson

River View

Floating

Ken gives this section of the river an enthusiastic thumb’s up!

Thumbs Up!

The canyon walls turned black as we entered the final large bend of the canyon before Bridgeport. This is where the wind finally started to catch up to us.

Black Wall

After passing the mouth of Dominguez Canyon we reached the bridges at Bridgeport and saw a lot of day hikers and backpackers on the trail along the river.

Bridges at Bridgeport

Floating underneath the Bridgeport Bridge.

Under the Bridgeport Bridge

Next we passed under the older bridge. I believe this bridge originally spanned the Colorado River near De Beque before it was moved to this location in 1935.

Under the Old Bridge

After passing under the two bridges it was just a short distance to the muddy takeout at the Bridgeport Trailhead where we ended our morning float. We arrived around 1:30pm, just as the wind was really starting to pick up for the day, so we were glad to be getting off the river and had timed it perfectly!

 

Petroglyphs of the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness

Of course, I stopped to search for some Ute petroglyphs in the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness along the way, so here are a couple photos of what I found.

Ute Petroglyph Panel

Upper Rider

Small Petroglyphs

Backside Boulder Petroglyphs

High Horse

Lone Sheep

Low Boulder Petroglyphs

Right Side Petroglyphs

Left Side Petroglyphs

Sheep

Upside-Down Sheep Panel

Big Sheep Little Man

>> Escalante Creek to Bridgeport Photo Gallery

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