Rafting through Greater Dinosaur on the Yampa River is one of the best ways to experience this wild and remote area of western Colorado. The Yampa River—the largest free-flowing tributary of the Colorado River Basin –flows for over 250 miles through northwestern Colorado from the heights of the Flat Tops Wilderness through the towns of Steamboat Springs and Craig to its confluence with the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument.
Throughout the course of its journey, the Yampa River provides an outstanding array of recreational opportunities. From the world-class angling, whitewater kayaking, and lazy tubing opportunities near Steamboat Springs, to the whitewater and wilderness experience of a multi-day float through Dinosaur National Monument, the Yampa River provides it all.
In late May, The Wilderness Society organized a float trip through this spectacular country in order to enjoy the particularly lush canyons after a record-setting wet winter. The trip brought together representatives from a number of groups working on water issues in the Yampa Basin as well as their families.
We headed to an overlooked section of the Yampa River–-a float through Little Yampa and Juniper Canyons just west of Craig, Colorado. With only a single rapid in 50 miles of river, this stretch of the Yampa provides an outstanding opportunity for families and recreational boaters to enjoy a lengthy stretch of the Yampa River without having to worry about whitewater.
The river flows through the Yampa River proposed wilderness, an isolated area where one can see golden eagles perched in treetop nests, mule deer moving towards the river for an early morning drink, or pronghorn as they graze the sagebrush slopes.
Over the course of three days, we experienced the beauty and solitude that makes this stretch of river so special. We saw bald eagles, golden eagles, mule deer, antelope, and hawks. We (ok, the kids) played in the mud and at night we all sat around the fire singing songs and celebrating this river that brought this diverse group of individuals together for a common experience.
The Wilderness Society has been working for years to protect this unique stretch of the amazing Yampa River. Recently, these efforts resulted in the BLM’s proposal to find 22 miles of the Yampa River suitable for inclusion into the federal Wild & Scenic Rivers system. Now, our work is to ensure that the BLM signs a Record of Decision that upholds this proposal while also protecting key wildlife habitat and special places such as Vermillion Basin.
To learn more about those efforts and our related work in the Greater Dinosaur Region click here.
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