The Yampa is a classic multi-day whitewater river. Most boaters spend 3 to 5 days floating the Yampa and Green Rivers that comprise this run. For most in-season runs a permit must be acquired from the Dinosaur National Monument Ranger Station. These permits are highly competitive and the possibility of winning a permit varies year to year. The permit generally specifies the camping beaches for each float trip.
This page describes the Yampa to the confluence of the Green at Echo Park. Boaters almost alway continue another 26 miles down the Green Echo Park to Split Mountain section. The total distance of the two sections is about 72 miles.
As a high desert run the weather pattern of the Yampa River can range from freezing to over 100 degrees in less than a day during the early float season. Later runs in July or August are generally hotter and more predictable but can suffer from low water and mosquitoes.
Almost every big rapid on the Yampa can be scouted on river right. The Yampa at Deerlodge starts as a wide meandering river in an open desert. Within a mile or so it enters a box canyon and some easy but continuous rapids begin. There are several notable rapids on the Yampa and the gradient is fairly constant for most of the first day. On the second or third day of paddling the Yampa becomes tranquil as it approaches its largest rapid, Warm Springs.
Scout Warm Springs from river right. A huge flood that temporarily dammed the river formed this rapid. The rapid itself would not be much more than an easy class IV drop were it not on a multi day river excursion. Flipping a raft in Warm Springs almost always results in an unpleasant night with wet or lost gear.
Below Warm Springs the river continues to present complex rapids and wave trains, but never approaches the difficulty of Warm Springs until after the confluence with the Green in Split Mountain Canyon.
Any whitewater boat (C-1, OC-1, OC-2, Raft, K-1, K-2, etc can float the Yampa.)
The largest rapid on the Yampa. A 1965 Debris/Flash flood event formed this rapid rated among the 10 biggest drops in the country. Scout from the right.
Just ran this at 1400 with my 17 foot cat and other 18 foot boats and barely made it through big joe. The hole at warm spring at this level was nothing and we all took turn running right through it with our duckies. Great beaches. Great camping. Its a shame they don't give out more permits since there are so many camping spots. It took me 10 years to get this permit
Cross Mountain Gorge is my favorite kayak run in Colorado. But I only know it at low flows around 1500 cfs. Filled with eddies and the rapids have great twists, sneaks, and surprises. Everyone on the river is always pumped up! IV+...significantly harder than the Numbers on the Arkansas but not nearly as hard as Gore Canyon. This makes a great first IV+ run.
5 years ago
by Joelle Stanions
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Histoic low flow conditions on Yampa River
YRAP Group Shot
Yampa Street View
view from the rim
Confluence of the Yampa and Green River's
Hula at the Grand Overhang
Kids Rafting on Yampa
Steamboat Rock in Echo Park
Wagon Wheel Point
Girls IK the Yampa
The Great Overhang
Kids Do Dishes
Harding Hole Sunset
Anderson Hole on the Yampa
Entering the Yampa Canyon
Box Elder Beach
Warm Springs Rapid
Warm Springs rapid
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
A bill to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was introduced last month by Colorado Senator Cory Gardener and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin and cosponsored by Colorado Senator Michael Bennett. If passed the bill would provide $900M annually for projects protecting natural, cultural and historic resources. Existing funding from the LWCF recently enabled the transfer of two important river access points on the Upper Colorado River. The State Bridge and Two Bridges parcels were owned by Eagle County and had been improved - boat ramps, parking, restroom/changing facilities - by the Eagle County Open Space program with coordination and management support from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This land transfer will protect public access at these locations in perpetuity.
Longmont, Colorado - As part of a comprehensive Stream Management Plan for the St Vrain Creek Watershed, American Whitewater is collecting and compiling data on recreational uses, and identifying projects and strategies to improve stream health, recreation, and environmental conditions in the region. You can help with this extensive effort. Please participate in the Recreational Flow survey.
Colorado Gives Day is on December 4 this year and is fast approaching! Go here to schedule your online donation to support American Whitewater's Colorado River Access Program. All donations made to American Whitewater on Colorado Gives Day (December 4) will be put towards our River Access Program in Colorado. American Whitewater works to improve river access and public safety throughout the state by working with landowners and managers, paddlers, law enforcement, and lawmakers to understand Colorado's river access laws and the ongoing threats to public safety. Thank you for your support!
Crested Butte CO - Alleged disruption to a Heron Rookery and concerned private landowners have led to a "Voluntary Closure" of the Slate River from the Gunsight Bridge to the Town of Crested Butte between March 15 and June 21 for the 2019 season. The Slate River between Oh Be Joyful Campground and Skyland Bridge, a 10.5 mile stretch, provides an incredibly scenic and unique flatwater paddling experience in the Gunnison Valley. The Voluntary clsoure is a product of the Slate River Floating Management Plan, created by a Working Group convened by the Town of Crested Butte and the Crested Butte Land Trust. The Working Group was created in direct response to pressure from the local community including conservationists and private landowners adjacent to the river, who are concerned that a recent increase in boating activity is disturbing a Heron Rookery that straddles the Slate River.
Today, September 5, marked the close of the public review process for the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report. The Evaluation Phase is the second step of 4 different steps required in the assessment of lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS). American Whitewater thoroughly reviewed the DRAFT Wilderness Evaluation Report and submitted our comments to the Forest Service on September 4, 2018. Overall, we found that key paddling reaches throughout the GMUG area were greatly under-represented in the Polygon narratives and thus weren't acknowledged as contributing factors to the Polygon's respective Wilderness Ratings. We let the Forest Service know this, highlighting specific paddling reaches that should be added to each Polygon and which Polygons we believe should have a higher Wilderness Rating based on the high-quality recreation opportunities that each area has to offer.
Please stay tuned as we continue to report on the GMUG Land Management Revision Process and in the meantime you can learn more about the GMUG here. (Photo of Josh King by Nick Spitzer)
ARKANSAS RIVER, Colo. - The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) is revising their Management Plan for the first time since 2001. The new Draft Plan was made publicly available in October and the AHRA is accepting public comments through November 10, 2017 (next week!). In order to design effective and productive comments, American Whitewater has thoroughly reviewed the Draft Plan, discussed the Plan with our local Affiliate Clubs, attended AHRA Public Open Houses, and reached out to key members of the local paddling community. To make it easy for you to SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS, American Whitewater staff have compiled our key concerns and comments for your review.
Gunnison, Colorado - Last Wednesday, Matt Brown - longtime river guide, adventurer, and pillar of the Gunnison Valley community- passed away tragically after an accident in Moab. Matt was so much to so many. At the request of his family and friends, contributions in Matt's memory can be made to American Whitewater’s River Access work in Colorado. Matt was a strong ally and advisor in our work to protect the public’s rights to float and fish in the State. We miss him immensely.
Kremmling, Colorado - The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a set of preliminary alternatives for managing about 40 miles of the Upper Colorado River between Parshall and State Bridge - including Gore Canyon and Pumphouse. This is your chance to weigh in on whether there should be a day-use permit; a camping permit with designated campsites in the popular stretch between Pumphouse and State Bridge; and expanding the developed Pumphouse Campground.
Bond, Colorado - American Whitewater is presenting Gore Canyon Festival - August 25-27th 2017. Online registration is open and there are events for everyone, so sign up today!
On Sunday, nearly 50 people gathered on the banks of the St. Vrain River to pick up trash from the water and the shoreline. We started the day off with Hotbox Roasters coffee and donuts, and a few words about River Stewardship – the common cause that brought us all together. We found bedframes, rusty nails, lawn chairs, car doors, plastic water bottles, candy wrappers, fast food containers, and it doesn’t stop there. Our findings are likely a combination of leftover debris from the floods, illegal waste dumping along the river, and built up trash from years of careless passers-by. Thank you to all those that came out for the river cleanup! American Whitewater depends on our affiliate clubs, members, and dedicated volunteers in order to tackle our many River Stewardship projects.
Cortez, Colorado - Last week, American Whitewater met with local water managers, fisheries biologists, an other interests in Dolores River water, to start negotiating releases from McPhee Dam - like we do every spring. This year, things are looking very good for the Dolores...
Dotsero, Colorado - A key river access point on the Upper Colorado river, once threatened with closure, has now been permanently protected through a partnership between BLM and Eagle County.
There is only one more day left to share what you value most in the Browns Canyon National Monument planning area! The Bureau of Land Management, U.S Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are working together to develop a Coordinated Management Plan for Browns Canyon National Monument. In order to design a plan that most benefits citizens and visitors of Colorado, the agencies designed an Online Survey and Mapping Tool to understand how the public interacts with the Browns Canyon planning area and what aspects of the area are most important to the public.
Colorado - American Whitewater has released a new study on whitewater recreation in the San Miguel River Basin. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) requested that Montrose County consult with American Whitewater on recreational needs and future impacts for the San Miguel River. Montrose County acquired conditional water rights to the San Miguel River in hopes of building multiple new reservoirs on BLM land. American Whitewater worked with Montrose County’s agents to assess the impact its conditional storage proposals would have on existing recreational opportunities.
A new proposal to allow the development of a 90- acre open pit mine in Eagle County at the gateway to the Colorado River has local river users asking questions. We encourage everyone to attend an Open House December 6 at 6 PM at the Gypsum Recreation Center, and to make your voices heard at the Town Council meeting where they will discuss the application on December 13 at 7 PM.
On May 21, 2015, American Whitewater members have a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a 4-day trip on Colorado’s Yampa River - one of the most sought-after whitewater adventures in the world. We invite you to join our staff and Board as we team up with O.A.R.S for a trip through the heart of Dinosaur National Monument, and down the last major tributary in the Colorado River system that runs wild and free.
Canoe & Kayak magazine has compiled a list of ten classic paddling runs around the globe that are critically endangered. With input from American Whitewater, Colorado's Yampa River makes the list for the threats it's world-class whitewater and wilderness paddling faces from dams, diversions or other development projects.
Today marks the release of an inspiring, wild ride down the Yampa River. Warm Springs is a film featuring AW staff and friends from all over Colorado, and delivers a rich and gorgeous portrait of one of the West’s last truly wild rivers through the lens of its most famous rapid, Warm Springs.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado - Energy development in the Yampa and Green River basins needs to strike a balance with river health. The Steamboat Springs newspaper - The Steamboat Pilot - printed AW's take on this important issue.
Lyons, Colorado - For the second year in a row, Oskar Blues Brewery is hosting the Burning Can Festival at this year Lyons Outdoor Games. Burning Can, which takes place under the backdrop of Rocky Mountain National Park and the St. Vrain River, is a celebration of good beer, served in a can. This year, All money raised from Lyons Outdoor Games recycled cans will be donated to American Whitewater. See you there!
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.
Colorado River Basin - American Whitewater is asking for paddler input on flows and recreation quality for rivers across the Southwestern United States. We are gathering this information to help define recreational flow-needs, and to inform the US Bureau of Reclamations' Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study. Whether you live in Boston, San Francisco, or Jensen, UT, your input will help AW protect healthy rivers - TAKE OUR SURVEY TODAY!
Colorado - Paddlers have until April 6th to repond to American Whitewater's flow survey for the Yampa River and its tributaries. This study is intended to inform local, state, and federal planning efforts by defining flow needs for recreational boating.
Your participation in the flow survey is requested.
Colorado - American Whitewater is conducting a study of flow-recreation relationships for the Yampa Basin, and identifying specific metrics for use in the Watershed Flow Evaluation Tool. This study is intended to inform local, state, and federal planning efforts as to the full range and quality of recreational boating opportunities for the Wild and Scenic suitable Yampa River, as well as the Elk and White Rivers, and their tributaries. Your participation in the flow survey is requested.
Colorado - On December 23, Governor Bill Ritter issued a report outlining a series of proposals for resolving disputes between landowners and rafters in Colorado. He also signed an executive order creating the River Access Mediation Commission to provide a way for some of the most contentious conflicts between boaters and property owners to be addressed. The Governor’s River Access Dispute Resolution Task Force was a 17-member group created in July of 2010 to help craft ways to sort out conflicts on Colorado rivers on a stretch-by-stretch basis as those disputes arise.
Colorado - Last month, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released their proposed management plan for the Little Snake Resource Area, encompassing over a million acres of soaring plateaus, wild and scenic rivers, and sweeping sagebrush basins. Special interests are trying to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to protect portions of the Yampa River – one of the nation's last free flowing rivers. Let BLM know that protections for these rivers are important to you!
The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taking public comment on its Proposed Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Little Snake Field Office which administers 1.3 million acres of the Yampa River basin. The plan addresses major issues facing our public lands and waters, and determined that 3 segments of the Yampa River are suitable for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
This spring, the Colorado Legislature is considering a bill, which helps protect the rights of commercial boaters to float on commercial sections of river, and increases the safety of boaters by decriminalizing incidental contact with private land to portage obstacles. HB -1188 is a good bill, but doesn't go far enough! HB-1188 passed out of the House by a vote of 40-25, and is scheduled to be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote on March 17th. We urge you to contact members of Colorado’s Senate Judiciary Committee and ask them to support HB-1188, and to amend the bill to include all members of the paddling public.
Colorado Stewardship Director
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