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Price River, Utah
Report by Marc W. McCord

Middle Price River
~ 23.5 Miles

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SOAR Inflatable Canoes - Somewhere On A River

General Description

The Green River is a very long stream forming in the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains in Bridger Teton National Forest of Sublette County, Wyoming, then winding its way south into Utah, turning east into Colorado and finally back south down into Utah where it terminates at the confluence of the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park in San Juan County. The featured section is the approximately 23.5 mile run on the Price River tributary from Scofield Reservoir in Carbon County to Castle Gate.

The Middle Price River, for this report, will be described as the approximately 60 miles from Castle Gate to US Highway 6/191 in northeastern Emery County, where the Lower Price River section begins. This reach starts near the Town of Price and surrounding smaller communities, but quickly becomes a remote run through high desert canyons on its way to the Green River. It flows northwest to southeast by the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry on river right, south of Wellington, after which there are no more towns or other signs of civilization along this run. You had better hope that Jurrasic Park is not a reality, because a paddler would be a tasty morsel for one of the creatures that used to play here. The last access road before the take-out is an Emery County road about 15 miles southeast of Wellington.

Depending upon flow, this reach may have rapids and drops rated Class II to V. Most are just boulder garden rapids with defined lines that can be run straight on, but others are more technical, have bigger drops and pourovers into holes, or form small waterfall drops requiring precise kayaking skills to run successfully. Portages are necessary on several drops along this run, and canoeists may have to line their boats past serious drops that are unrunnable for them. Safety and rescue gear is very good to have along on this trip. Dropping off the West Tavaputs Plateau, this section of the Price River is a test of skills and endurance - you need to pack lightly for portages, yet have everything you need for 3-6 days on the river. The Price is not a big flow river except in flood stage, when it is extremely dangerous. For the record, the Class V's are the exception rather than the rule, and many are rated higher because of factors other than technical difficulty or size, such as strainers, dead-fall debris, small landing zones, and other characteristics that make running them more hazardous than they might otherwise be.


Carbon and Emery Counties, from Castle Gate below Price Canyon to US Highway 6/191 at Woodside in Emery County, about 15 miles above the Green River confluence.

Distance from major cities

Salt Lake City 100 miles; Grand Junction 155 miles; Durango 325 miles; Denver 400 miles; Albuquerque 585 miles; Phoenix 738 miles; Oklahoma City 974 miles; Dallas 1,130 miles; Austin 1,240 miles; San Antonio 1,248 miles; Houston 1,370 miles; Little Rock 1,300 miles; Kansas City 1,011 miles (all distances are approximate and depend upon starting point, destination point on the river and route taken.)

Water Quality and Flow Rates

Water quality in the Price River is very good to excellent, flowing clean, clear and cold, but not drinkable without purification. Navigable flows are generally limited to mid-spring through early summer, and are normally low, at best. High flows occur only when the river is in or near flood stage, at which times it is a dangerous stream that should not be boated.

Best times to go

April through June is the prime season for running this section of the Price River. It flows from Scofiled Reservoir, and after significant rainfall, or from snowmelt in the higher elevations above the river.

Hazards to navigation

This 60-mile run has numerous hazards in the Class III to V range that can and will injure or kill boaters and/or destroy boats and gear if run improperly. First, the run is in a very remote high desert canyon heading for another remote, high desert canyon, so rescue by outside assistance is very difficult, if possible at all. Second, some of the drops will occasionally be clogged by dead-fall debris, boulder slides, rock ledges with sharp edges and other natural hazards that raise the difficulty of drops that would normally be considered a level or two lower based on size and characteristics of the drop. Access is very limited, especially in areas where larger drops occur, so careful scouting, then running or portaging safely is mandatory. Most of the run is long, flatwater pools, so you will not be constantly scouting and dropping. Cold water, and sometimes cool to cold air temperatures, make wearing water-repelling garments including wetsuits or drysuits with a base layer practical to prevent hypothermia. Remoteness should be considered a hazard factor. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP!

River Access Points

Castle Gate access at 0.0 miles; US Highway 6/191 at Helper at about 2.0 miles; SH 157 crossing about 2 miles below Helper at about 4.0 miles; US Highway 6/191 in Price at about 9.0 miles; SH 10 crossing above Wellington at about 13.0 miles; US Highway 6/191 at Wellington at about 14.5 miles; Carbon County road running south from Wellington at about 16.0 miles; Emery County road just below the Carbon County Line at about 30.0 miles; US Highway 6/191 crossing at Woodside at about 60.0 miles. There are no other access points for this reach of the Price River.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Price Canyon State Recreation Area, just to the west of the headwaters off US Highway 6/191 near Helper, offers excellent campground facilities with amenities including drinking water and restrooms, and is the only campground located along the Price River. Abundant natural campsites can be found all along this reach.

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

There are no outfitters located along the Price River in Utah. Plan on bringing everything you need and running your own shuttles.

Reviewer's comments

The Middle Price River is a beautiful and challenging canyon run of about 60 miles that includes some really great drops and a few nasty ones. This reach is rated Class III to V, though it includes some long pool-and-drop flatwater sections. The sandstone canyons are gorgeous, and different sun angles cast a spectrum of shades to the layers that have created these formations over many millennia. This area features a dinosaur quarry just south of Wellington, where numerous major finds have occurred. The river is characterized by deep canyons, narrow gorges, boulder gardens, small waterfall drops and a photographer's dream for scenery. The high desert run requires skill and stamina. Boaters need to be able to travel lightly with everything they need for several days on the river, though support can be acquired on the first half of this trip (IF you pre-arrange it and have somebody to meet you at strategic points. Otherwise, you had better have it with you if you need it.) The low flows of the Price River make this trip very questionable most of the time, but when it flows without going into or near flood stage get ready for a very interesting ride!

Technical Data
Class Rating II to V
Length 60.0 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Castle Gate
Lat. / Long. 39.7314987 / -110.8690033
Last Take-out US Hwy. 6/191 at Woodside
Lat. / Long. 39.2636986 / -110.3417969
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Woodside
Boats Canoes, Kayaks
Season Typically, April through June
Permits No

Canoeman River Guide Service - Guided river trips in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah

Utah Whitewater Club - Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting

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Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Green River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

Green River
[ Green River Homepage ] [ Flaming Gorge Dam to Brown's Park NWR ] [ Gates of Lodore Canyon to Split Mountain Campground ]
[ Split Mountain Campground to Ouray ] [ Ouray to IH 70 ] [ IH 70 to Colorado River ]

[ Duchesne River ] [ Nine Mile River ] [ Upper Price River ] [ Lower Price River ]
[ Upper San Rafael River ] [ Lower San Rafael River ] [ Uintah River ] [ White River ]

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