Colorado River - Westwater Canyon - May 20, 2008

Westwater had been on the list for some time, but the opportunity had not came knocking. When our May 6th Salt River Wilderness trip cancelled due to low water, Westwater was discussed as an alternative. Decided it was not a very viable one so passed. With three slack days between the May 15th Dolores trip and a May 23rd San Juan permit, the 20th was perfect timing. 23.4K CFS at launch meant the 'terrible teens' were not an issue although I would have preferred them to the washed-out rapids that did appear. Swimming at those flows was something to be avoided at all costs.

Although my cataraft was available, thought it wise to either follow someone experienced down the river, or go commercial and see what lines worked. Picked an outfitter whose permits coincided with my time frame and not from past preferences. TAG-A-ALONG worked and I've had no issues with them as jetboat shuttle providers. The cost was $140 which appeared to be the going rate although the no-refund policy was skitchy. Both Russel the guide and Esther, the guide trainee, were very helpful in pointing out river features and how best to handle them. They provided exactly what was desired. The local BLM office is the river manager.

The rapids were big-water affairs and ranged to class IV. Skull seemed the most technical with Funnel providing the biggest water. At these flows, eddies, whirlpools, suckholes, all provided some excitement. There were two 16.5 foot rafts with 4 customers per boat. Was a good trip.

Click images to view trip report details.

Trip report image
USGS flow link image