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Norwood Canyon of the San Miguel River

San Miguel Canyon: Beaver Creek to the Piñon Green Truss Bridge
Saturday, June 12, 2021 | Average CFS: 608

Unfortunately, this is only the first river trip of the year for me, and it feels long overdue! I was really hoping to get in a few more river trips this spring, but thanks to the dismal snowpack and poor spring runoff, things just haven’t worked out for me this year. The smaller desert rivers that I wanted to float did not have enough water and I did not win any permits from the lotteries this year, so lately I have been keeping an eye on some of the rivers in western Colorado hoping that there would be enough snowmelt to run something. This past week it was looking like the San Miguel River was going to be our best bet, and since we had a really nice time on the lower San Miguel River and Hanging Flume Canyon last year, Jackson and I thought it would be nice to check out a new section through Norwood Canyon this time. There is not a lot of info about this stretch of the San Miguel available, but we found enough bits and pieces online that helped us figure out the logistics of the trip. It was going to be another hot weekend on the Colorado Plateau, so we were looking forward to keeping cool on the San Miguel River!

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Getting Lost in the West End

Silveys Pocket to the Dolores River, Petroglyphs in Paradox & La Sal Creek
Friday – Sunday, April 3-5, 2020

With all of southern Utah essentially shut down to non-locals right now, this weekend I tried to pick one of the more remote areas in western Colorado that wasn’t too far from home to go explore. Ever since I floated through Slick Rock Canyon on the Dolores River last year I have wanted to get back to hike some of the side canyons that we were unable to visit on that trip, so I thought the Dolores River Canyon Wilderness Study Area would be the perfect place to go. I left right from work on Friday and was completely self-contained in my Jeep with food and fuel for the entire weekend so I wouldn’t have to make any stops along the way. I followed the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway to Naturita and then headed over to Big Gypsum Valley where I crossed the bridge over the Dolores River beyond the boat ramp and found a place to camp along the rim of Silveys Pocket.

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River of Sorrows: The Dolores River

Slick Rock Canyon | Big Gypsum Valley to Bedrock
Friday – Saturday, June 14-15, 2019

Early Spanish explorers called it El Rio de Nuestra Señora de Dolores, or the River of Our Lady of Sorrows translated into English. Today it’s known as the Dolores River, which begins as snowmelt high up in the San Juan Mountains near Bolam Pass and empties into the Colorado River in Utah after traveling through the canyon country of western Colorado. For a long time I have wanted to float the Dolores River through Slick Rock Canyon, which begins at Big Gypsum Valley and ends at Paradox Valley, but since the water of the river is usually siphoned off at the McPhee Reservoir upstream there is typically only a very short window of time to actually do it, if there is any opportunity at all! So far I had never been able to make the timing work for a trip, however, with the high snowpack in the San Juan Mountains this year it looked like I was finally going to be able to get my chance!

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Paradox Valley Petroglyphs

Saturday, November 21, 2015

On Saturday morning Diane and I left home early to drive to Paradox Valley in search of some new rock art. Early on during our drive through Unaweep Canyon before the sun came up we saw quite a few large elk crossing the road and had to slow down to avoid hitting any. One almost ran right into the side of my Jeep as we were stopping to let a group cross the road, but luckily she stopped and turned at the last second. It was a pretty close call!

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