It’s early January and the super El Nino is in full effect dumping snow around the West.
Things are looking good for Spring runoff.
Get ready, it’s permit time!

Many of the popular river stretches in the West are permitted and some of those permits are due as soon as  January 31. That’s a little over 3 weeks away! We’ve compiled a list of the most popular stretches in our area and created links to application instructions, river descriptions, maps, required gear, shuttle info, and more.
Good luck!



Yampa & Gates of Lodore: Located in remote northwestern Colorado, these two river sections converge in spectacular Dinosaur National Monument. The 2016 high use season for both begins on May 9. The Yampa high use season ends on July 9 while the Green high use season ends on September 9. Low use or low water trips are available for reservation beginning March 1, 2016. Reserve Permit.

Ruby/Horsethief: This popular 25 mile stretch of the Colorado River begins just west of Grand Junction and flows through two distinct canyons before emerging a bit east the Utah/Colorado state line. Furry friends are allowed. High use season is between May and September. You’ll need to call or visit the GJ Filed Office 60 days in advance of your camp date starting March 2. Reserve Permit.




Desolation/Grey: Running through some of the most remote land in the contiguous U.S., this 84 mile stretch of the Green River is a must for anyone looking to get away from it all. A permit is required for all times of the year, but high use season runs from May 1 to September 30 and the permit deadline for those dates is January 31. Reserve Permit.

Westwater: Short, steep, and sweet. This 17 mile stretch of the Colorado River flows through exciting Westwater Canyon in far eastern Utah. Although it is only permitted for one night, this can be combined with a Ruby/Horsethief trip for an excellent multi day affair. Permits are required year round, but high use is from April 1 through September 30. Reserve Permit.

Cataract Canyon: Big water in a remote desert setting describes this stretch of the Colorado River downstream from it’s confluence with the Green. Although a permit is required, it’s fairly easy to get. Keep in mind that one of two stretches of flat water is required before getting to Cataract. Meander and Labyrinth/Stillwater sections also require permits. Reserve Permit.

San Juan: For some, this is the ultimate multi day river trip. Stunning sandstone cliffs and native american ruins typify this stretch. While the “upper” 26 mile section contains less high cliff faces, it holds more ruins to explore. The “lower” section is 56 miles and contains the only major rapid, Government Rapid. Permits for high use season between April 15 and July 15 are due on January 31. Reserve Permit.


New Mexico

Rio Chama: Designated a Wild and Scenic River in 1988, this 33 mile section starts in a high ponderosa forest and ends beneath towering sandstone cliffs. Great wildlife viewing, hiking, and camping can be found along this beautiful stretch. Because of heavy usage, permits are required on weekends from May 1 to Labor Day and are due January 31. Reserve Permit.



Salt River: Often referred to as the “mini Grand Canyon”. This remote stretch travels deep within the Salt River Canyon Wilderness and is considered a solid class III – IV. The boating season depends heavily on snowpack runoff which is forecasted to be above average this year due to El Nino. Permit season is from March 1 through May 15 and is due on January 31. Reserve Permit.

Grand Canyon: 12 to 25 days on the Colorado River in the heart of the most amazing canyon complex on Earth. Those lucky enough to get through the confusing permit process and are granted a pass will surely come back a changed person. A detailed 22 page Q&A sheet about the permit process is a helpful read. Reserve Permit.



Four Rivers: Flowing through a vast wilderness in central Idaho, the Selway River, (Wild Main) Salmon River, Hells Canyon-Snake River, and Middle Fork of the Salmon River (aka 4 Rivers) use randomized lottery drawings to assign launch permits for their high use season.  Reserve Permit.