Kya the Kayaker – Gates of Lodore

Posted On
May 05, 2014

By Monique Beeley –


Green RIver -1697Family river trips are some of the best adventures, offering something for all ages and it is mandatory that all phones, iPods, games etc.…. are left behind - or at least stowed away and then, hopefully, forgotten, as days and nights on the river are filled with good, old-fashioned outdoor fun.

This past year, our choice for a family summer vacation was a 4-day Gates of Lodore River Trip on the Green River with Dinosaur River Expeditions based out of Vernal. The dynamics of this family trip consisted of me and my 4-year-old daughter, Kya, my sister, Nicole and her 12-year-old daughter Lauren, who was lucky enough to bring a friend for this adventure. Family trips often include the cousins, who are Kya's most favorite travel buddies and it's great that they live close and share our love of outdoor adventure!

The Gates of Lodore is the scenic entrance to Lodore Canyon on the Green River in northwestern Colorado near the Utah border. The trip commences as the River leaves Brown's Park and artfully cuts its way through the Uinta Mountains, ending at Echo Park, the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers.

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As we gathered and organized our gear in dry bags provided by our outfitter, I could sense a bit of trepidation in the group. Some of the other families joining us were first-timers to a river trip and uncertain of what was in store for them over the next few days. Leaving behind all the comforts of home and moving into a bit of unknown territory can be exciting yet a bit stressful.


During the first few river miles, the knowledgeable guides informed us of the history of the area, as well as, the flora and fauna that can be found in the deep and remote canyon ahead. With the sun high in the crystal blue sky, the August day was beginning to feel a bit hot; luckily we could either dangle our feet over the side of the boat or better yet, fully submerge ourselves in the cool river and float next to the boat. Before we were allowed to jump in, the guides made sure we were aware of all the do's and don't of the river; making sure our PFD's (personal floatation devices) were snug, that we floated with our feet heading downstream and that we all were aware of the hand signals in case we needed help. Time floating in the water was definitely a favorite for the kids as well as the adults.

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Along with the rafts, we also had 4 inflatable kayaks, aka "duckies", and an SUP (stand-up paddleboard). I was excited to have a turn on the board. I regularly SUP on the lakes around my home in Park City, but the river is a whole different animal. During the days on the river my niece, Lauren and I spent many hours on the SUP in the calmer sections of the river, but the rapids where a bit too extreme for us.

I have had the opportunity to run this section of river a few times prior to this family trip, which gave me knowledge of the awesome rapids ahead, Disaster Falls and Hell's Half Mile. Prior to running through each section of rapids the guides scouted the scene from the shore. I chose to bypass the fun in hopes of getting some great action photos of the group. Kya was more than happy to leave mommy on the shore and sit next to Aunt Nicole, whom she adores, for this white water adventure. Capturing the action with the telephoto lens as the boats maneuvered through the rapids, shrieks, giggles, grins as the water splashed and the boats rocked in the water, was one of the trips highlights for me.

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The steep hike up Limestone Canyon is not to be missed and leads to a spectacular view of the river below and ever-changing geology throughout the canyon. Kya was such a great little hiker on this challenging and exposed trail. There were a few moments at the overlook where I experienced a bit of anxiety when Kya stepped too close to the edge as the girls were running and playing on the slickrock. We stayed just long enough for a few photos and then headed back to camp.

The Gates of Lodore run totals 44 miles with class III & IV white water rapids and is one of the finest sections of the Green River, with picturesque sandy beaches for camping and riverside dining. Green RIver -1591Each afternoon we would pull into another amazing spot for the night. This allowed the kids time to explore, splash in the water and afforded us, the adults…. time to relax with a glass of wine, while the guides prepared yet another gourmet meal. While sitting on the beach and watching the sun disappear behind the majestic redrock canyon walls, presenting the beautiful soft light of evening, I was filled with a sense of peace as well as gratitude for the opportunity to share this awesome outdoor adventure with my sweet little girl. I hope she will always share my passion for the great outdoors and will want to join me in more pursuits of finding new and fun adventures.

Author's reflections:

As a divorced, single mom, Kya and I face unique challenges when traveling. Although I am confident that I have the ability and have all the necessary gear to take her on many outdoor adventures without assistance – Green RIver -1031 camping, paddling, hiking, etc. – for several reasons we often choose to enlist qualified guides and be accompanied by family members. Looking after an active four year old in Utah's outdoor playgrounds is a challenge in itself for a solo parent.

During our river trip, on several flat-water stretches and a few minor whitewater bumps, we would jump into a Duckie. Kya loved it! Hence the title of this piece.


Green River, Family Trips, River Trips, Vernal