This page is meant as a brief introduction to the Deso/Gray trip, one that my father and his friend Stoney introduced us to and that we’ve been down many times since then. If you are wondering what you might be getting in to, continue reading. If you’d rather be surprised, stop now… (return to main Deso/Gray page)

Area Map: The put-in is 37 miles down a rough gravel road starting a bit east of Duchesne, Utah. The takeout is at Swasey’s, a bit upstream of the town of Green River.

The drive to Duschesne could encounter snow in April or October. Be prepared!
Don’t forget to gas up in Duchesne which has the last grocery. (Heber City has larger stores.)
The road into Sand Wash is pretty bumpy! 2-WD works, but you need some clearance. We drive in the day before the launch, camp at the put-in, rig our boats, and try to launch mid-morning on launch day.
We usually use the maximum 9 days of the permit, taking out on the morning of the ninth day.
At the put-in. The ranger will check our required equipment. The trip leader needs to have the permit and photo ID.
We contract with a shuttle service to drive the cars around so that they are waiting for us at the takeout.
There is a *lot* of flat water. There is almost no current for the first two days.

More flat water, sometimes with wind. We usually try to start fairly early in the day – the general pattern is that winds pick up in the afternoon.
You read about mosquitoes. They can be bad in May, but only for the first 2 days of the trip. But by July, they aren’t bad at all (or in April). Most people bring a tent for protection against both bugs and rain. It would still be a good idea to bring mosquito repellant.
In April, the water level is usually fairly high, producing some current in the flat sections. In August and September, the water is usually pretty low. That gives nice sandy beaches, but there can be hours of rowing downstream to get to the next camp.
This is considered current at a first night’s camp. If the wind picks up, it can take real effort to move downstream. One September trip, it seemed like we had an upstream wind every day of the trip. We did not do any layover days because we had to spend so much time on the water.
Boats: some think it’s fun (and efficient) to share the rowing with a tandem cataraft.
And there is always room for a little more stuff.
The solo ‘hot-rod’.
Or one person can do the rowing for three.
The IK (Inflatable Kayak) makes a forgiving playboat.
Other options include a hardshell kayak or packraft.
And there is always the redshank (the iceberg is not in the Green River!)
There is current sometimes.
And even rapids. There are three or four class III rapids. With practice over the first several days and with a bit of coaching, most boaters are ready to row all of the rapids. It is possible to walk around the most difficult rapids and have a more experienced rower make multiple trips if necessary.
I’m surprised at how few whitewater pictures we have. Others have done better:
An artsy video of Joe Hutch Rapid
All significant rapids in 2 minutes, 25 seconds
A more organized description of a Deso/Gray trip
More cliffs to row by.
If you are bored by canyon pictures, scroll faster. If you don’t want to slowly row past canyon walls, look for a different trip.
There are numerous side hikes, some short, some long. Some are in tight side canyons, others climb up and offer sweeping vistas.
Depending on wind and current, we might have one or two layover days.
The canyon has been inhabited for centuries. Early residents have left petroglyphs and ruins along the river.
The canyon has been inhabited for centuries. Early residents have left petroglyphs and ruins along the river.
Ranchers have also left evidence of their activities. Rock Creek Ranch.
With elevation, views expand.
Things are greener in the spring, drier later in the summer.
Things are greener in the spring, drier later in the summer.
But the water is a pleasant temperature – and is always available for a refreshing dip.
Storms with wind and rain can come at any time. We try to camp in protected areas, but you should have a tent that can withstand significant wind and rain.
April and September might be cool in the mornings and evenings.

While we have water filters, it’s easier to just carry the water from Duchesne. We also can boil river water if necessary. Some heat clear creek water in solar shower bags for washing. Others wash their hair in the river. Others don’t worry about it.
Most tent sites are on sand or ‘packed dirt’. You will want a comfortable sleeping pad/mattress.
There is usually a choice between a site ‘tucked into shelter’ and one out on the beach. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
Most campsites have some shade from trees, but we always carry a tarp for sun and rain protection.
Some camps are pretty luxurious. Note shade tree (and camp chairs – be sure to bring one.)
Evening recreation: watching the sun go down.
Care should be taken to not get too much sand in the tent zippers.
We are often in camp by 2:00 or 3:00. You should be prepared for IA time (Individual Activity).
Depending on the party, there are a number of ways of doing food…
We keep a clean camp. A 4-pan system works for washing up. Note that black bears are found in the canyon. We carry bear spray and try to stay alert. We’ve seen them, but have yet to have any problems. (Knock on wood…)
Everything is carried out, even the poop. When your team sets up the groover, we hope that you choose a scenic and private place for the can. And it’s actually not a bad system. You should plan to have a full can in your raft by the end of the trip 🙂
Fires are usually allowed (with a firepan). There is plenty of firewood. Ashes are carried out along with all other trash.
See previous note about chairs.
Gunnison Butte means the takeout is the next day.
At the end, everything has to be packed up. We are usually ready to start driving home by noon.

Questions? Check with Meg and Pete…