Born from the snowmelt in the mountain headwaters above Trapper's Lake in western Colorado, the White River flows due west in a serpentine search for its confluence with the Green River. Near the Utah-Colorado border the river course turns spectacular: canyon style. For 100 miles between the town of Rangely, Colorado and the river's confluence with the Green River, the White River cuts a rugged, scenic trough into the high desert plains of the Uintah Basin. This is a place to paddle, watch wildlife, and occasionally leave the river for an unforgettable hike. This is one of the quiet places, where solitude and a sense of adventure are still very much a part of the outdoor experience.
Non-commercial use on the White River is free; no hiking, boating, or parking permits are required. Use of Tribal Property, including the popular Mountain Fuel Bridge takeout, requires several different types of permits. Contact the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, P.O. Box 190, Fort Duchesne, UT 84026, (801) 722-5511 Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
From Taylor Draw Dam, the river passes oil and gas wells and meanders through private ranch lands for approximately 20 miles; be careful of the bridge abutment in the river at Highway 64. Parcels of BLM public land provide camping areas or lunch stops in 6 locations between Rangely and the Utah border. Please respect private property and do not trespass. All services are available in the town of Rangely, including a campground with drinking water and showers.
Launch sites include:
• BLM land below Taylow Draw Dam, east of Rangely, CO (River Mile 101)
• The White Avenue / Green Bridge in Rangely, CO (River Mile 92)
• BLM land (Big Trujillo) five miles west of Rangely, CO on Rio Blanco County Road 2 (River Mile 84)
Downstream there is an area of spectacular and fanciful geologic forms called Goblin City. Trappers passed in and out of this canyon in the early 1800's and told stories about it. Three men from John Wesley Powell's second expedition in 1871 hiked up the White River from the confluence with the Green to find Goblin City. In 1989, Clay Johnson of Vernal read an entry in Powell's journal relating to Goblin City. Curious and haunted, he painstakingly sought out the working journals of the three men. By comparing the three descriptions, and with the aid of a sketch the size of a postage stamp, Johnson rediscovered the forgotten Goblin City. Now you can see the century-old mystery and set footholds as did the early explorers, "from the bluffs to southward." A strenuous 2 hour hike along the ridges midway between miles 36 and 37 (look for a sign) will take you to the ridgelines. The view to the east and late afternoon sun provide the best shadows. What will lie before you is a series of stacked ridges with towers, spires and "...numerous small buttes and square rocks, almost in rows and about the size of small buildings, so that there is a striking suggestion of a town." (Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, artist and assistant topographer to Powell's expedition). A trip to Goblin City will unleash the explorer in all of us!
River Runners Transport: 435-781-4919 800-930-7238 riverrunnerstransport.com
Guided Canoe Trips
Centinnial Canoe: 877-353-1850 centinnialcanoe.com