The headwaters for the Provo River lie just below Bald Mountain in the Upper Uintas. For most of the Upper Provo, Utah Route 150 (the Mirror Lake Highway) parallels the river. This section has three distinct parts -- the Upper Provo Falls park and huck, Slate Gorge, and the Box Canyon. Overall the run is about 5 and a half miles, but any of the sections may be run individually. The logistics for access to the run vary. Generally, UDOT opens the road to the lower section Box Canyon first. In big snow years they may plow to the summit by Memorial Day weekend. Generally, the road seems to open right about when boaters are looking to head up there. Note that it may be possible to drive further up RT-150 than the UDOT website indicates.
Provo Falls consist of a series of ledge drops and slides. Hike your boat up from the parking lot following a rough trail that starts behind the restrooms. The upper most runnable drop is a small ledge the falls away underneath a log. We put in above this. Downstream from here are 5 smaller drops before a large sliding falls that ends in an eddy above the main two-tiered falls visible from the parking lot. You can usually eddy out above the main falls after the slide, but this has been blown before. This two tiered drop is generally run on the right. Keep you nose of the right wall and up at the bottom. Ankle injuries have occurred. Below this, the river swings past the overlook and over Bad Chiwawa, a butt busting bouncer down the left ordeal. It ends in an eddy above Big Boy a ramping to vertical 30-footer. The landing is shallow and the timing of the boof stroke to lift your bow is a bit complex. While successful runs are common, so are back injuries and other carnage. To date, I know of two paddlers who have sustained major injuries running this drop one of whom can no longer sit in a kayak.
Slate Gorge begins where the road crosses the river below the falls. This section is about 2 miles and contains a few low angle slides, boulder gardens, and a vertical two tiered water fall. The waterfall is visible from the Slate Gorge overlook on the way to the put in. Until recently, a log blocked the river right route. This disappeared in 2005 making this drop a lot more runnable. Its undercut on both sides, and behind the last drop. If youre just going to run the gorge, take out at the Murdoch basin road.
The Box Canyon, or Slope-Rock-Falls, (aka Big Slide and lower Box Canyon) section begins around mile marker 22 and contains numerous slides, rapids, and tight turns. Lots of work by Bubba Smith and company as well as other Utah boaters has kept this section free of wood. However, the abundance of standing dead trees and high winds often put deadfall into the creek, so a thorough scout is recommended. The river mellows out a bit (and becomes more wood choked) near Cobble Rest Campground.
A 6 dollar forest service day pass is required for cars parking within the National Forest. You can get one at the stand along RT 150.
An annual pass is $45, and a federal park pass (Interagency pass, America the Beautiful pass) is honored.
Coming from Salt Lake, Kamas is your last stop for beer and gas before heading into the high country. For post-paddling fare, Mirror Lake Diner and Uinta Drive In are open 7 days a week. Theres tons of free and forest service camping throughout the Uintas.
Unfortunately the Woodland gauge is located below the confluence ,with the middle fork,
north fork, south fork, and the trans-basin interflow from the Duschene tunnel. Generally,
after the lower zone snow is melted out, the majority of the water comes from the middle
fork (on which this section is located). You can see what theyre bringing in through the tunnel (adding to the Provo flow),
here: CUWCD Data
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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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.
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.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
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