Goblin Valley employees hit the permit lottery this year! Between the three of us, we snagged permits for the San Juan River, Buckskin Gulch, Zion Narrows .... and Westwater!
Westwater is a 17-mile stretch of the Colorado River filled with some pretty gnarly Class IV rapids. You can run it as a 1- or 2-day trip. It's big, rocky, and definitely more than our Class-III ducky could handle. Nate offered to take his Cataraft down, which was fantastic. The river was running around 6000 cfs, which was considered a moderate flow (check river levels here,) so the five of us piled in and held on!
There are eleven rapids in Westwater Canyon. The first two are Wild Horse and Little Dolores (a.k.a. Little D.) The craziest rapids are found within a two-mile stretch of canyon surrounded by black pre-Cambrian Rock: Marble Canyon, Staircase, Big Hummer, Funnel Falls, Surprise, Skull, Bowling Alley, Sock-It-To-Me, and Last Chance. It was definitely crazy, but Nate handled the whole thing with finesse and a level-head. We used Belknap's waterproof map as a guide. The final stretch of river is slow-going flatwater, so we whipped out a little motor to scoot us along.
To raft Westwater, you'll need to do a shuttle. The Westwater Ranger Station is the put-in and Cisco Landing is the take out. To get to the Westwater Ranger Station from I-70, take exit 221. Turn north at the stop sign. Turn right onto the road paralleling I-70. Turn left shortly after passing over Westwater Creek. Follow this road for 4.5 miles to the Ranger Station. To drop a car at Cisco Landing from Interstate 70, take exit 214. Turn south at the stop sign. Follow this road to the ghost town of Cisco. Turn left near the "Cisco Disco," a decrepit building with an elaborate mural. Take another left shortly thereafter. After 2.5 miles, turn left toward Cisco Landing. The boat ramp is two miles down this road. The round-trip shuttle takes about 2 hours.