Meander Canyon is a lesser-known stretch of river in the Canyonlands region, as most of the fame goes to its familiar counterpart, Stillwater Canyon, on the Green River. Yet, Meander Canyon is without a doubt one of the lovelier sections of the Colorado River, rich with archeology, history, and incomparable scenery. The landscape through which the Colorado River flows near Moab, has been shaped and deformed by salt – its effects are visible everywhere, from the long narrow fracture of Spanish Valley, to the tiny, parallel side canyons that enter the river through the sheer sandstone walls below Moab. Salt, from an ancient ocean, formed as thick layers in deeply buried rocks. The pressure of the layers above forced the salt to squeeze like toothpaste up through the overlying layers, causing them to bulge and bend and ultimately crack in long straight clefts in the land’s surface. From the air, the land still looks like a rumpled and wrinkled carpet, molded and cracked by the forces of time. A float down this stretch of river brings past geological forces to vivid life in the present landscape. Boaters enter Canyonlands National Park just above Little Bridge Canyon.
For those who wish to explore off the river, there are ample opportunities in this section. In a few different places, most notably at Lathrop Canyon, hikers can climb away from the river to the White Rim Trail, a 111 mile-long biking and jeep trail that skirts the edge of the rim of the inner canyon. Views from this trail are spectacular: one is neither down in the canyon looking up, nor above looking down. Instead, one is completely encircled by the color and form of the Canyonlands in broad, expansive vistas. At Indian Creek, Indian ruins identify an ancient route to the rim used by the Anasazi as they moved from the low country in the winter and spring, to the high country for summer and fall. Geological oddities are common along this stretch of river. At Jackson Hole, the Colorado shortened its course by approximately 3 miles when it cut through a narrow neck of sandstone in one of its own turns, leaving the old curve stranded as a dry loop canyon. To see a Jackson Hole in the making, boaters can continue downstream to The Loop, where the river literally doubles back on its own course before turning downstream to make a final run for the Confluence. There is one small rapid 2 miles above the Confluence at The Slide. This is a Class I/II rapid formed by rock slides from the cliffs.
A trip in Meander Canyon may start or end in several different places, depending on your time constraints. Most trips begin at the Moab Boat Ramp and end at the Confluence, a distance of 67 miles. One has to be picked up by jet boat before or at the Confluence. This flexibility in scheduling, unavailable on Stillwater Canyon trips, makes Meander Canyon the perfect choice for visitors who want to experience the grandeur of the Canyonlands country by river, but who don’t have many days in which to do so.
MEANDER CANYON TO THE CONFLUENCE
- Class: I-II rapids
- Location: Southeastern Utah
- Put-in: Moab Boat Ramp or Potash Boat Ramp
- Take-out: the Confluence or before
- Mileage: 67 or 50 miles
- Trip length: 3 to 7+ days
- Camping areas: Numerous sites atop of the cut bank or beaches and sand bars at low water
- Permit needed: Yes – Canyonlands National Park 435-295 4711
*Jet boat transportation is required to return to Moab. You may request a reservation through either:
- Tex’s Riverways 435-295-5101 or
- Tag-A-Long Expeditions 435-259-8946
The jet boat will be met at or just below the Confluence. From there,
you will travel back up the Colorado River to the Potash Boat Ramp,
then be transported by magic bus back to Moab.
What you will need to bring:
- River map, river toilet (mandatory), group camping equipment/kitchen commissary, staples, coolers, stove, tent, sleeping bag, sunblock, insect repellent, and meals (Please see the Packing List tab for a more detailed list.)
- Drinking and cooking water (must be carried in) – 1 gallon per person per day along with ½ to 1 gallon per meals for cooking. You may fill water jugs at our location.
- Canyonlands National Park Permit (dogs are not allowed in the National Park)
Trip Planners & Considerations:
- Our River Season is March 1st to October 31st.
- You will have different concerns depending on the time of the season you are traveling. Remember that water levels fluctuate seasonally and from year-to-year.
- This Self-Guided Trip requires a high level of responsibility and your due diligence in research, as you will be going into and camping in backcountry wilderness…you will get wet, sandy, and muddy! As navigator, you will have to pay attention to river mileage and your travel speeds. You are your own captain! The area is remote and services are non-existent. Your group must be self-contained and self-reliant to deal with emergency situations. Cell phone service is not available within the canyons. A satellite phone is optional, but highly recommended. If this is looking like too much responsibility, you should really start with a Guided Green River Canoe Trip.
- Your group is responsible for knowing and adhering to all Utah boating and backcountry laws and river regulations, as well as being aware of any current fire ban in effect.
- April to June (for the most part): In the afternoon, up-canyon winds are an almost daily occurrence. An early afternoon camp will help to minimize the time spent paddling in the wind.
- May and June (for the most part): During “high water,” your travel time can be faster, so you should know how to paddle in river currents and strong eddies.
- March, April, July to October: When the river is low, the sand islands come out.
- You are required to check that you have all necessary equipment such as PFDs, throwing device, bail bucket, whistle, fire pan, river toilet, and paddles with a spare, before we can take you to the put-in.
By state law, all who go out on the river must be a minimum of 40 pounds in weight. Additionally, children 12 years and younger must always wear a PFD on all Utah State waters.
On the morning of your Self-Guided Colorado River Canoe Trip, meet at 11:00 am at our shop in Moab, at 420 Kane Creek Blvd. At this time, we will process your bill, have you complete some paperwork, and prepare your BLM permit & fees. In addition, there will be a 10 minute briefing to go over river maps, camps, and hikes. Drive time to the river is at 11:30 am (about 45 minutes to river from our shop).
PLEASE, PACK OUT EVERYTHING YOU PACK IN! LEAVE NO TRACE OF YOUR STAY.
Self-Guided Prep-Work “Calculator Time”
Shuttle Cost: $95 per person to the Potash Boat Ramp
*We do not move vehicles.
Canoe rental: What canoe do you want/need?
Wenonah Cascades 17 ½ feet $40 a day
Wenonah Champlain 18 ½ feet $50 a day
Wenonah Spirit II 17 feet $50 a day
Wenonah Solo Wilderness 15 ½ feet $30 a day
Osagian Classic 15 feet $40 a day
EQUIPMENT included with tandem canoe rentals: PFDs (Personal Floatation Devices, a.k.a. life vests) (2), Paddles (3), Throwing device, Bail bucket, Whistle, and a Fire pan
Canoe Rental Cost Per Trip
|No. of Canoe(s)||x Canoe Cost ($30 – $50)||$|
|No. of Days||=||$||Total Canoe Cost|
Personal Boat Transportation Rates:
In addition to the shuttle charges for individuals and their gear, fees are charged for the handling and transport of each boat that is not rented from Moab Rafting and Canoe Company.
|Canoes, Sea Kayaks, Inflatable Kayaks, and SUPs||$35 each|
Rental gear per trip (see prices below):
River toilet (mandatory), H2O jugs, Dry bags, Coolers, PFDs, Paddles, Throw bags, Fire pans, Helmets, Tents, Sleeping bags, Sleeping pads, Camp chairs, Roll up tables, and Propane Stoves
|River toilet||$45||$||Trash bucket||$5||$|
|5 gal. H2O jug||$8||$||Tent||$25||$|
|Dry bag: sm & med/lg & xl||$10||$||Sleeping bag||$15||$|
|60 qt. Cooler||$20||$||Sleeping pad||$20||$|
|Throw bag||$10||$||*Kitchen box||$95||$|
|Fire pan||$10||$||River map (purchase)||$20||$|
|Stove, 2 burner||$25||$|
|(you will need to bring propane)||Subtotal||=||$|
|Utah Tax (8.60%)||=||$|
*Full Kitchen “box” includes: plates, bowls, cups, knife, fork, spoon, cutting knives, can opener, salad bowl, fry pan, pot & strainer, pot holder, cutting board, juice container, and washing bins
To reserve your trip date and rental gear: Feel free to call or email us for date availability. We will be more than happy to send out a trip packet with more information and a worksheet for you to fill out and send back. We will ask for credit card to hold the trip date and rental gear. If you have to cancel within 14 days of your trip, we will run your card for 50% of your booked reservation total. If you cancel within 3 days of trip or if you are a “no show”, we will run the card for the whole amount of the booked reservation. All reservation fees are due in full by the day of the trip.
Again, over the years of booking trips, we have to say we know the river. But, every trip is different. The time of season, water levels, weather the day you have booked for, and much more, make the river fun all of the time!
- It is our policy to reserve the right to cancel any trip at the last minute due to extreme and unsafe conditions, such as high water (over 35,000 c.f.s.), fast-moving water, low water, cold, or high winds. Should this occur, no money will be exchanged. If conditions allow, we can/will postpone for few hours or to the next day.
- For groups of 10 or more, a deposit of $15 per person is due the day of reserving your trip date. This is non-refundable. The balance is due the day of launch date for the group size you reserved.