Muddy Creek - 01. I-70 to Hanksville

Muddy Creek, Utah, US


01. I-70 to Hanksville

Usual Difficulty I-III (for normal flows)
Length 72 Miles
Avg. Gradient 19 fpm

The Chute

The Chute
Photo by Tim Kelley taken 06/08/17

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09330500 150 - 500 cfs I-III 71d08h56m 6.68 cfs (too low)

River Description

SEASON: Seldom runnable, but keep an eye on the gauge during late May to June.

FUN FACT: The best way to experience the San Rafael Swell.

ACCESS: The long run (3 days) starts at the Highway I-70 bridge across Muddy Creek less than a mile east of exit 97. Alternative access points exist at Lone Tree Crossing, Tomisch Butte, Chimney Canyon, Salt Wash, and the final take-out at the Highway 24 bridge in Hanksville. Keep in mind that your shuttle can take several hours.

DESCRIPTION: Muddy Creek can be boated as a multiday trip, but The Chute is often boated as a day trip.

Starting from I-70 Muddy Creek flows through ranch land as it cuts a course across the desert. This first 11 mile section contains some class II/III rapids.

The next section starts at Lone Tree Crossing. This infrequently boated section has some great camping along the river as the river begins to cut a course through the impressive geology of the San Rafael Swell. There are few rapids in this 19 mile class I/II section.

The most popular section begins at Tomisch Butte. It's a long drive from Highway I-70 exit 129. Follow the frontage road as it heads west along the south side of I-70 and make sure you have a good map. There is camping at the put-in and in the rare years when flows are good floaters gather to paddle this 15 mile section that includes The Chute. There are a few class II rapids along this section until you enter The Chute which is a very impressive canyon up to 300' deep and only 7' wide in places. This narrow box canyon is approximately 4 miles. There is an access point at the end of this section at the Chimney Canyon trailhead near the Hidden Splendor Mine.

Once you leave the access at the Chimney Canyon trailhead you will leave the day trippers behind. It's another 5 miles of class I/II water to an access point downstream from Salt Wash where a spur road off Highway 24 ends at the river.

The final 22 miles is class I that cuts across the desert.

for additional information see:

  • Nichols, G.C. 1993. River Runners' Guide to Utah. University of Utah Press, includes an excellent and comprehensive description
  • National Geographic's Trails Illustrated map (712) of the San Rafael Swell.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-09 21:43:43


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Factory Butte RoadN/AAccess
0.0Hidden Splendor MineN/A
0.0Lone Tree CrossingN/AAccess
0.0The ChuteN/APhoto
0.0Tomsich ButteN/AAccess

Rapid Descriptions

Factory Butte Road (Class N/A)

Alternate access that serves as a take-out.

Hidden Splendor Mine (Class N/A)

The airstrip at Hidden Splendor Mine is an alternate access point that serves as a take-out below the Chute. Don't park on the airstrip.

Lone Tree Crossing (Class N/A)

Alternative access point.

The Chute (Class N/A)

The Chute

The Chute
Photo of Guy Babbitt and Elise Giddings by Tom O'Keefe taken 06/08/97 @ 310 cfs

The narrow box canyon that is the highlight of this run.

Tomsich Butte (Class N/A)

Alternate access point for the short day run of the Chute at Tomsich Butte Trailhead.

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