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Price River, Utah
Report by Marc W. McCord

Upper Price River
~ 23.5 Miles

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 Price River flows out of Scofield Reservoir above Helper, northwest of the Town of Price in the Manti La Sal National Forest of Carbon County. The streams flows in a generally northwest to southeast direction through Emery County to its confluence with the Green River at Gray Canyon just a few miles northeast of the Town of Green River. The first 15 miles, from Scofield Reservoir to the top of Price Canyon, is a Class I to III whitewater run of excellent character, and can be run as a shortened version of the total Upper Price River run. Through Price Canyon the river assumes a Class III to V nature amid steep, rocky drops and ledges that can pose danger if run improperly. The Price Canyon run can be a separate, shorter run for those wanting only the adreneline rush of the bigger drops.

As a rule, this is a low-volume stream that runs alongside a county road from which most hazards can be adequately scouted. In addition to natural hazards, the Price Canyon run also includes rebar that can puncture boats and impale boaters, as well as several small dams near the end of the run, some of which may require portaging (all should be scouted before running.) Strainers, tight, rocky drops and boulder garden rapids round out the hazards that can bite a boater if he or she is not being careful. The Price River is not suitable for rafting, but canoes and kayaks can run the uppermost 15 miles. Only expert whitewater kayakers should attempt runs on the lower 8.5 miles from above Price Canyon to Castle Gate.

Location

Western Carbon County, from Scofield Reservoir through Helper and Price to the Green River confluence at Gray Canyon in Emery County.

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.

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

The first 15 miles below Scofield Reservoir has numerous Class I to III boulder garden rapids that can pose serious problems of pinning, wrapping and injuries if not run properly. Rapids and drops should be scouted before running. Starting at Price canyon, and continuing about 8.5 miles to Castle Gate, the Price River is a Class III to V stream for expert whitewater kayakers ONLY! The stream's hazards include tight, steep drops onto boulders or rock ledges, dead-fall strainers, rebar and a series of small dams near Castle Gate, all of which should be scouted before running. Fortunately, a county road paralleling the river provides excellent vantage points for planning runs. 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

SH 96 bridge at Scofield Reservoir west of Colton and Helper at 0.0 miles; Price Canyon State Recreation Area at about 15.0 miles; Castle Gate at about 23.5 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

If you are an intermediate or higher level whitewater canoeist or kayaker, then the first 15 miles of the Price River below Scofield Reservoir will offer Class I to III excitement in a gorgeous setting that will thrill you and keep you on your toes. If hairboating is more your style, then the 8.5 miles from above Price Canyon to Castle Gate will be the run for you. If you enjoy both less demanding and more technical whitewater runs, then you have an option of 23.5 miles of supreme boating from the lake to Castle Gate. The Price River is not well-suited for rafting because of its low-volume flows and narrow channel that makes steering a big boat very difficult, if possible at all. This gorgeous river can be boated all the way to its confluence with the Green River about 98 miles below Scofield Reservoir, but most of the run is a tough Class III to V+ run with huge boulders to dodge, steep drops to run or portage and a slow trip that would take most boaters at least a week or more to complete. Much of the Price River is similar to the Price Canyon run described in this report. The river cuts through the desert sandstone all the way to Gray Canyon on the Green River, providing a scenic ride the whole way. This is a true wilderness trip that few can or will enjoy, but the Upper Price River is one for those who love great whitewater rivers with slightly creek boating characteristics. One hint - Do NOT overload your boat, because you will probably have to carry it at sometime!

Technical Data
Class Rating I to V
Length 23.5 miles
Minimum Flow cfs
Optimum Flow cfs
Maximum Flow cfs
First Put-in Scofield Reservoir
Lat. / Long. 39.7867012 / -111.1194
Last Take-out Castle Gate
Lat. / Long. 39.7314987 / -110.8690033
Elevation msl
Gradient fpm
USGS Gauge Web: ()
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

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 ]

Tributaries
[ Duchesne River ] [ Nine Mile 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 October 1, 2010

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