Desolation Canyon, Green River Utah

Moab Utah
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Desolation Canyon

Visitors come to Desolation Canyon to experience 84 miles of family-friendly Green River paddling, including relaxing flat-water and moderate rapids. The area is also home to many prehistoric Indian Petroglyphs.

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  • 84 miles (typically 4-6 days)
  • Moderate, up to Class 3 Rapids
  • Put-In: Sand Wash Ranger Station


Desolation Canyon is home to 84 miles of Green River paddling. Perfect for families and beginners, the majority of Desolation Canyon’s waters are calm, though there are a mix of class 1, 2 and 3 rapids. Desolation Canyon is also home to historic frontier homesites, and prehistoric Indian Petroglyphs. Excellent hiking is also found along the route.

Desolation Canyon is run between April and October.


The put-in for this trip at the Sand Wash Ranger Station about 220 miles north of Moab. From Moab, head north on US 191 for 32 miles, where you’ll merge onto I-70 west. Follow I-70 for 24 miles, then take ext 157 to merge onto US-191 north. After 110 miles exit W Main St. Follow for 17 miles then turn right at Sand Wash Road. Follow signs to the launch area.


  • Distance: 84 miles
  • Average Time of Trip: 4 – 6 days.
  • Difficulty: Moderate, class 1, 2 and 3 rapids.
  • Put In: Sand Wash Ranger Station
  • Take Out: Nefertiti Rapids

Plan & Prepare

  • River running season in Utah coincides with the hottest part of the year. Remember to pack plenty of water and sunscreen. Additional protection from the sun, including hats and light long sleeve shirts is advised.
  • Due to the inherent risk involved with white water rafing, all but the most experienced river runners will benefit from hiring a guide service to plan their trip.
  • Remember to always wear a life jacket.
  • Make sure to arrange a shuttle vehicle in advance. If need be, hire a commercial shuttle service to return you to your car.
  • There are no toilet facilities located on this section of the river. All solid human waste must be carried out. Commercial porta-potty toilet systems are allowed.
  • Permits are required and can be purchased from the Bureau of Land Management. Call 435-636-0975.