Cottonwood creek, more appropriately named Lower Seeley Creek (or simply "Joe's"), flows from Joes Valley reservoir. The same turquoise water that attracts boaters and fisherman to this man made lake is found in the river. It really is a beautiful stretch of desert paddling when it has water. Most seasons don't see many releases over 200 cfs. While Gary Nichols states a level of 350+ or more is desirable for this section, it has been run as low as 180 cfs. While the creek isnt as pushy at these lower flows, there are more spots where one could pin a boat.
The rapids are generally pool drop in nature and are formed where large boulders have cleaved from the canyon walls and dropped to the stream bed. Two drops standout in my mind. The first consists of a left hand bend with three paths dropping approximately 4 feet into a pool below. This pool drains out a narrow slot just left of center and probably underneath the river right boulder. The second drop comes after a few class III-ish drops and is marked by a large boulder (house size) on the left hand bank. I frequently encounter trees pinned in here so a scout is advisable. The action continues to the take out with a number of less steep drops and boulder gardens. Our usual takeout is a dirt pullout on the road just after the canyon begins to open up. (Driving up the canyon, this is the only pull-off that leaves the road after the junction with Cottonwood canyon and Straight Canyon.) One may put-in anywhere along the road, some popular options are the last pull-out by the large Pine tree before the road climbs the grade up to the top of the dam, or by walking down the lower dam access road and bush-whacking to the river. (Please dont park on the dam access road, or anywhere blocking the main highway. After 9/11, the dam itself is a restricted area, please obey the no tresspassing signs)
Theres plenty of free or forest service camping around Joes Valley. Check some of the dirt roads leading North or West from the reservoir for some nice secluded spots. (Camping is no longer allowed at the takeout). There are the standard pit toilets located off the main road on the northwest edge of the reservoir. There is a liquor store in Castle Dale these days, at 160 E Main St.
The Emery County Water Conservation District updates the flow below Joe's Valley every day. This information, as well as flow data for other creeks in the area, can be found on their web site. www.ewcd.org.
In 2013, this is the link:
Reservoir discharge from Joes Valley Reservoir is the flow for Cottonwood Creek.
Joes Valley Reservoir level. Cottonwood creek is not likely to see flows over 220 unless the reservoir is full.
http://www.ewcd.org/reservoirs/teacup-diagram/ also has Joes Valley reservoir.
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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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