The Dirty Devil offers a wilderness float trip with fantastic scenery and side hikes. Floatable flows occur in the spring and early summer.
Fremont River and Muddy Creek join together at Hanksville to become the Dirty Devil. Most of the dirt seems to come from Muddy Creek. Most of the water is taken out for agriculture and domestic use before it reaches the confluence and put in. Flows at the start will be almost always very low. Side streams below the put in will gradually add water and make floating easier as boaters proceed downstream.
Somewhere near the confluence. AW does not have good information about put in options. Study the map and ask around when you arive. Elevation is approximately 4240 feet above sea level.
While Lake Powell is low, there is a river runners take out on the north side of the lake, just downstream of the Dirty Devil confluence. There appears to be plenty of parking. Boaters coming out of Cataract Canyon sometimes end their trips and derig at this take out, so it could be busy. Hite Marina proper is on the south side of the river/ lake. Elevation is approximately 3600 feet above sea level.
Especially near the beginning, the river is wide, shallow and braided. Expect lots of boat dragging unless you get good flows. Boats with very shallow draft are most suitable, but canoes, inflatable kayaks, inflatable canoes and recreational kayaks have all been used. The canyon is also very wide in the beginning, but it gradually becomes narrow. Near the end, the river cuts down through Lake Powell silt. The channel can be very narrow with swift water. The overall gradient is about 8.5 feet per mile.
Other Information Sources:
Hanksville BLM office, at the intersection of highways 95 and 24. Phone 435-542-2361Dirty Devil Float trip by Rich Henke, March 2005Dirty Devil report by Gerald Trainor, 2008
A 4-wheel drive road extends from Highway 95 to the Dirty Devil on the upstream side of Dry Valley Wash. This alternate put in can reduce the amount of boat dragging one has to do.
A 4 wheel drive road comes down Poison Springs Wash all the way to the Dirty Devil, fords the river and continues on the other side. The USGS gage is just upstream and is serviced by the road.
Typical boatable flows for the Dirty Devil are prior to irrigation season when water is NOT diverted - and temps are cooler.
I did this river early May, 2010. The flow, low, was between 25 and 50 cfs. I enjoyed the trip, in a 14' Dagger Caption Open Canoe. This included walking some 50 miles of the 70 mile trip - barefoot in the sand. I am not sure what flows I had at each specific point but I will definitely do this again. There is 'quicksand', but with a boat at hand it was not a safety issue for me in any regard.
I took two weeks to do it, including hiking the hard to access side canyons. The typical routine involved guiding the boat with a bow line and needing to pull every 50 yards or so over a riffle in the sand. A no rocker, no keel boat would be an advantage for this section. I 'carried' a cooler and most of my water for the entire trip.
The few rapids were at the mouths of canyons, these were all either runnable or easily lineable. Towards the lower end the Tamarisk from the lake channelizes the river and there are also springs adding to the flow. I would take out at Sheep Springs, a high clearance access up from Hwy 95 at the lake, if Powell is low. The mud channelization in the lake bed is unpredictable with consequence - perhaps first of which is the muck you would be failing to walk in.
The best put-in is at the Hanksville Dump road. This is truly a unique trip.
Most of the flow of the Fremont River and Muddy Creek is diverted for agriculture use upstream of where they join together to become the Dirty Devil. Side canyons provide additional flows along the reach below the put in. Because of these diversions, the gauge displayed below shows higher flows than will be found at the put in.
USGS Dirty Devil gage
Peak streamflows at this gage usually happen during thunderstorm flash floods.
Lake Powell elevation
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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The Bureau of Land Management is considering the potential for oil shale and tar sands development on 2,431,000 acres of public land in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. This development could threaten the quality of paddling experiences including the multi-day desert floats on Desolation and Grays Canyons of the Green as well as the adventure available for kayaks and packrafts to explore the San Rafael, Muddy and Escalante. American Whitewater partnered with our colleagues in the Outdoor Alliance to highlight the value of these areas for outdoor recreation.
American Whitewater staff traveled to Green River, UT in late March to meet with private water users and state agencies, and to participate in the official opening of the new boat passage through the Green River Diversion (Tusher Dam). Completion of the boat passage has freed the Green River from its last in-stream obstruction between the Flaming Gorge Dam and the confluence with the Colorado River – over 400 floatable river miles through iconic canyons and historic landmarks. It has a been a long process, and our work isn’t over yet! As your boating representative, American Whitewater will continue to work closely with the dam operators and Utah’s Division of State Lands (FFSL) to ensure that the boat passage meets the needs of the public during its inaugural year.
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