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Yampa River2021-02-24T18:09:17-08:00

Yampa River

The Yampa River is a gem of American whitewater. Tucked into Dinosaur National Monument, the Yampa winds its way through spectacular walls, exciting whitewater, and gorgeous sandy beaches. Most boaters that run the section of Yampa from Deerlodge Park to the Confluence with the Green continue an additional 26 miles on the Green River to Split Mountain take-out. The guidebook for that section of the Green can be found here.

About this guide

This guide outlines one continuous 46.5 mile stretch of river from Deerlodge Park put-in to the Confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers. It is possible to take-out at Echo Park just after the confluence, but almost all boaters continue 26 additional miles along the Green to Split Mountain take-out. The guide for that section can be found here.

All data points were collected using GPS. This location information is provided. These locations were checked against Google Earth for accuracy. Distances are the averages of repeated trips that were GPSed.

River Info

Rafting the Yampa through Dinosaur National Monument is a bucket list rafting trip. The Yampa is a remote, stunningly beautiful section of river. The rafting is generally easy, but Warm Springs Rapid (IV) provides an exciting crux to any trip down the Yampa. A trip down the Yampa means relaxing on beaches under steep canyon walls, exploration of historical sites, and adventures through shady side-canyons.

Safety

The Yampa River is an intermediate run. While there are significant sections of mellow or flat water, it is important to note other challenges that are present. The Maytag Hole in Warm Springs rapid has flipped many boats.

As a private boater, make sure you join a party that has recent Yampa River experience before running the Yampa.

Permits

Detailed permit information can be found here.

The lottery for high-use season permits (May 10th-September 10th) is open from December 1st to January 31st each year. Off-season trips are available for reservation on March 6th.

During the high-season, the NPS will assign river campsites to permit holders. Make sure to follow the schedule given to you by the NPS.

The Yampa River on average runs between 1,500 and 10,000 CFS during the high season. The river reaches its highest flows during May and June and then quickly tapers off in flow. During normal high-water events, the river remains runnable, although the consequences of flipped rafts and swimmers increases.

Sometimes the USGS flow image breaks. If this happens, here is the direct link.

Gauge data provided by the USGS.

Yampa River Guidebook

WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment. Go with someone with recent Yampa River rafting experience.

Class I Rapid

Class I rapid or river feature.

Class II Rapid

Class II rapid or river feature.

Class III Rapid

Class III rapid or river feature.

Class IV Rapid

Class IV rapid or river feature.

Put-In / Take-Out

The most commonly used access points.

Point of Interest

These include side canyons, waterfalls, and more.

Campgrounds

Yampa River campsites

Deerlodge to the Green Confluence – Class II-IV

Length

Deerlodge to the confluence is 46.5 miles.

Difficulty

Intermediate

Feet per Mile

The Yampa has an average gradient of 12 fpm

Shuttle Time

Hire a professional shuttle service. The only approved shuttle service is River Runner’s Transport. Their website is here.

Mile 0 – Deerlodge Park and Campground: The start of a great trip. You can camp at Deerlodge Campground the night before your trip. There are seven walk-in sites available.

Mile 3.99 – Unnamed Rapid: Class II. Read-and-run.

Mile 4.93 – Anderson Camp: River right. Large camp. Anderson camp has a gorgeous beach and quick access to Stubbs cabin.

Mile 4.94 – Stubbs Cabin: Hike above Anderson camp to reach the remnants of a homestead cabin. You can continue hiking past the cabin for a scenic walk.

Mile 7.82 – Thanksgiving Gorge: Keep your eyes peeled for this beautiful canyon entering on river left.

Mile 8.25 – Corral Springs Draw: The Draw enters the Yampa on river right.

Mile 9.86 – Ponderosa Camp: River left. Large camp. Ponderosa is a crowd favorite with plenty of shade and nooks for tents. Ponderosa is good at high-water.

Mile 10.4 – Teepee Rapid: Class III. Right scout. Right-of-center run. Teepee Rapid is straightforward but has a notable hole to avoid just left of center near the top of the rapid. Make your way down the right side of the rapid and enjoy the wave train.

Mile 13.8 – Browns Draw: The Draw enters the river on river right.

Mile 17.2 – Little Joe Rapid: Class II. Read-and-run.

Mile 20.4 РFive Springs Rapid: Class II. Read-and-run.

Mile 22.8 – Big Joe Camp: River right. Large camp. Pull-in is before Big Joe Rapid.

Mile 22.9 – Big Joe Rapid: Class II. Right scout. Read-and-run through the rocks that have been deposited by Starvation Canyon.

Mile 25.6 – Johnson Canyon: River left. Enjoy a shaded side-hike up Johnson Canyon.

Mile 26.5 – Harding Hole Camp #1: River left. Large camp. The first of four very nice Harding camps that are in a row. There is easy access from Harding Camp #1 to hike up Bull Canyon and get to the Wagon Wheel Point that overlooks the river.

Mile 26.6 – Harding Hole Camp #2: River left. Large camp. This is the second of the Harding Hole Camps. There is hiking access from Camp to Wagon Wheel Point via Bull Canyon behind camp.

Mile 26.7 – Harding Hole Camp #3: River left. Medium sized camp. This is the third of the Harding Hole Camps. This is a tricky camp to land at.

Mile 26.8 – Harding Hole Camp #4: River left. Medium sized camp. This is the final Harding Hole Camp available.

Mile 32.2 – Grand Overhang: River left. This enormous undercut wall looms grandly over the river.

Mile 36.1 – Laddie Park Camp #1: River right. Large camp. If Laddie Park #1 is taken, continue just downstream to Laddie Park #2.

Mile 36.2 – Red Rock Canyon: River left. It is possible to walk up Red Rock Canyon and enjoy its quiet beauty.

Mile 36.2 – Laddie Park Camp #2: River right. Large camp. Just across from Red Rock Canyon.

Mile 38.1 – Tiger Wall: River left. The black and orange striped wall is a favorite among boaters on the Yampa – it is a unique spot on the river.

Mile 42.4 – Warm Springs Rapid: Class IV. Right Scout with a scout pull-in just above the rapid. This is the most anticipated rapid on the Yampa, and for good reason. At high flows, the Maytag Hole in Warm Springs has flipped many huge boats. Enter Warm Springs on the right with center-to-right momentum. Crush through lateral waves to stay on the right side as you pass the Godzilla Hole in the center of the river. After passing Godzilla, keep right along the rocky shoreline to avoid the main rapid hazard, the Maytag Hole, which is in the center-bottom of the rapid.

Mile 42.7 – Warm Springs Camp: River right. Medium sized camp. At low water it is necessary to raft downstream of the gravel bar that is in front of camp and then pull boats back upstream in order to reach the pull-in.

Mile 44.7 – Box Elder Camp #1: River right. Medium sized camp. Hike to the back of the camp to reach nice tent sites.

Mile 44.8 – Box Elder Camp #2: River right. Medium sized camp.

Mile 44.9 – Box Elder Camp #3: River right. Medium sized camp. This is the third and final of the Box Elder camps.

Mile 46.5 – Confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers: You have made it to the Green! The next steps in your adventure can be found in the Gates of Lodore Guidebook if you are continuing on 26 more miles to Split Mountain.

Mile 47.2 – Echo Park River Access: Echo Park is a good place to re-fill water before heading downstream.

*** Your trip is not done. Continue to the Gates of Lodore and Split Mountain Guidebooks, here.***

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