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Duchesne River, Utah
Report by Marc W. McCord

Hades Campground to Rock Creek
~ 32.5 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 28 mile run on the White River tributary from SH 45 near Bonanza to its confluence with the Green River between its confluences with the Duchesne and Willow Rivers.

Forming in the High Uintahs Wilderness Area near the 12,433 feet tall Mt. Agassiz in Duchesne County is the Duchesne River, flowing south along the Wasatch-Duchesne County Line to Hanna where it bends southeast and then through Starvation State Park near the Town of Duchesne. From there it turns east to its confluence with the Uintah River a few miles from Ouray and the Green River. Its total length is about 80 miles through unspoiled northeastern Utah wilderness. Big Sand State Park is located along the river at Bridgeland, about 20 miles east of the Town of Duchesne, after which its last few miles flow through Uintah County. Lodore Canyon, on the Green River, and the Yampa River are a short distance to the northeast. Most of the river is within the boundries of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the headwaters are in Wasatch National Forest.

The river is steep, narrow and extremely picturesque. Between Hades Campground and Rock Creek the Duchesne River flows about 32.5 miles on a Class I to III whitewater run that offers a little danger and a lot of fun. Swift currents, boulder garden rapids and dead-fallen trees are potential hazards to be avoided, especially at high flows.


Duchesne and Uintah Counties of northeastern Utah, just south of the Wyoming State Line and west of the Colorado State Line. Salt Lake City and Provo are each about 75-90 minutes to the west and Grand Junction, Colorado is about 4-4.5 hours to the southeast.

Distance from major cities

Salt Lake City 70 miles; Grand Junction 260 miles; Durango 375 miles; Denver 506 miles; Albuquerque 917 miles; Phoenix 678 miles; Oklahoma City 1,129 miles; Dallas 1,255 miles; Austin 1,290 miles; San Antonio 1,340 miles; Houston 1,476 miles; Little Rock 1,447 miles; Kansas City 1,112 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 is usually very good to excellent, flowing clean, clear and very cold from snowmelt waters of the High Uintahs Wilderness Area. Navigable flows usually occur from mid-Spril through June in years with average or above average winter snowpack.

Best times to go

Late-April through mid-May offers the best time to catch navigable flows in the Duchesne River, though boating can be done as early as late-March or as late as mid-June, depending upon the amount of snowmelt runoff and spring rainfall in the drainage basin.

Hazards to navigation

This reach of the Duchesne River is rated Class I to III, but there are numerous boulder garden rapids that can be hazardous, especially at high flows. Strong cross currents, eddy currents around boulders, small holes, standing waves and dead-fall debris can all pose significant hazards unless avoided. Careful boating and good scouting should be done to select lines that carry boaters away from the hazards. Generally, this reach of the river presents no significant hazards to competent boaters in canoes and kayaks.

It has been reported that there are 5 barbed wire fences across the river in less than 6 miles below Hades Campground. Some are loose and others are taut. Caution is urged to avoid entanglement, especially in higher flows. These fences are illegal, and should be reported to the Utah State Attorney General Mark L. Shurtleff, the US Attorney for Utah David D. Barlow, Duchesne County Attorney Stephen D. Foote and the National Organization for Rivers (NORS). Those barbed wire fences create an illegal hazard and obstacle to navigation.

River Access Points

Hades Campground at 0.0 miles; Rock Creek at about 32.5 miles. There may be other access points for this reach of the Duchesne River.

Campgrounds and accommodations

Hades Campground

Liveries, outfitters and shuttle services

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

Reviewer's comments

Technical Data
Class Rating I to III
Length 32.5 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Hades Campground
Lat. / Long. 40.5341988 / -110.8728027
Last Take-out Rock Creek
Lat. / Long. 40.2885017 / -110.4975967
Elevation msl
Gradient 10 fpm
USGS Gauge Web: Tabiona
Boats Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts
Season Canoes, Kayaks
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

Canoe & Kayak Magazine - The premiere paddlesports industry publication

Lone Star Paddler - the paddlesports web site of Marc W. McCord

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 Browns Park NWR ] [ Gates of Lodore to Split Mountain Campground ]
[ Split Mountain Campground to Ouray ] [ Ouray to IH 70 ] [ IH 70 to Colorado River ]

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

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Last updated September 14, 2014

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