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Pinedale Field Office

Green River Guide

Green River.

Green River.


Rivers are one of the most powerful creations of nature, carving their way through the earth on their way to the oceans. Water is the life blood of earth, providing high plant and wildlife diversity along its shores. Rivers acted as the first highway system in this young country. Life as we know it could and would not exist without them. It is for these reasons that the early settlements were located along the major rivers of the country.

Southwestern Wyoming is rich in Indian, mountain man, and early pioneer history. The Indians settled down for the winter on the banks of the Green, the mountain men held their rendezvous in the Green River Valley, and the pioneers had to cross the Green to get west. Famous mountain man, Jim Bridger, established his first Fort Bridger on the banks of the Green. As the United States moved westward the pioneers had to cross the Green. There are numerous sites along the Green where the Oregon Trail crosses. Homesteads became common along the Green, the most significant being the town of Green River. 

Enjoy your float, but please respect the rights of the private land owners, other users and your land. Wyoming Law allows you to access the river bottom and shore on private property to get over or around hazardous situations. Any other access of private land without the owner's permission is trespass.  The Wyoming Game and Fish has negotiated a number of access points with land owners, and these are signed for the public benefit.

Pack out all your trash, leave no trace where you camp, and if you hunt or fish, have a license and obey all regulations. 

River Safety Considerations

The two major rivers within the Pinedale Area (the Green and New Fork Rivers) are referred to as “flat rivers”. These are fast moving flat rivers and can be dangerous.  People, especially experienced paddlers, may tend to ignore the basic safety rules.  What follows is a short discussion of the most basic river safety considerations.  It is recommended to read a book and/or take a course on river safety before paddling any water.  

NOTE: The guidelines below are not a substitute for a course in boating safety. Safety while in or near water is the user’s responsibility.


A personal floatation device (PFD) is you best friend on any body of water. In most cases it is not only smart to wear them, it is the law. Type III PFD's are the best choice for paddlers. They are cut for comfort and have at least 15.5 pounds of floatation. Wear them at all times on the river.


One of the most important aspects of being on a river is having the correct clothing. You do not want to be to cold or to hot. It is easy to strip off extra clothing to cool down, but impossible to put on extra clothes if you have left them at home. Weather can change drastically in a short period of time.

Add to this the 100% chance you get wet and the winds here in Wyoming, and it equals: never go out without the proper clothing. 

Outer Layer

Your body loses heat 50-90 times faster in wind, and more than that in water. A hot day on the shore can be a cold day on the river. Extra clothing is never bad, and can be stored in the boat easily. The outer layer should consist of some type of water proof wind jacket and pants. Coated nylon jackets and pants will usually do the trick. These can be stripped in warmer weather and water.

Under Layer

An under layer should be worn to keep the warmth of your body in your body.

Cotton is the worst under you could possibly use. Wet cotton only takes the heat out of you. No under layer is better than a cotton one. Wool is a great insulator wet or dry. Other synthetic materials are thinner and more comfortable. The most common is polypropylene. It insulates when wet, and is fairly cool when the weather is hot. On a hot day a cotton T-shirt and shorts may be fine, but have the extra layers just in case.

Self Rescue

When planning a river trip you should plan for when an accident happens, not if it happens. People tip, swim, and flip when paddling. It just happens, so be prepared for it. The best defense against an injury while swimming is self rescue. Some of the more common self rescues are the “flip and re-enter” and the “get to shore method”. Both of the methods are discussed in detail in the following paragraphs.

Flip & Re-enter

In an open tandem canoe the best self rescue is a “flip and re-enter”. The first thing to do when you come up from under water is check on your partner. Make sure each person is all right. After this has been done flip the boat to its correct position and enter. Both people must enter at the same time from opposite sides. This evens the weight, and keeps the boat in an upright position. Paddle to shore and empty the water out of the boat. One safety note; If there are any hazards down stream from you, and close enough so the rescue can not be finished before reaching them, both swimmers need to be on the up stream side of the boat. This insures no one will be pinned between a hazard and the boat.

Get to Shore

If the flip and reenter is not possible, getting to shore is the best rescue. The swimmers should always first check each other, and then get to the up stream side of the boat. The stern paddler then gives the orders. He\ she either tells the other swimmer “I have the boat, or you get the boat.” This is decided by who is closer to the rescue shore. Remember when the swimmer grabs the painter line (rope attached to the bow and stern) the opposite end will swing down stream. Whoever has the boat swims toward shore and slightly up stream. At this angle the current will help you to shore. The other swimmer does the same remembering not to get down stream from the boat.

Hazards & Hints

Rocks - Boats that hit rocks upstream can be current pinned against them. If this happens lean down stream and reach for the rock. This will stop the water from forcing the boat under water. If exiting the boat is a safe option it is the best one.

Strainers - Anything in the water that allows water to pass, but not objects. These are death on water. A fallen tree is a great example of one. Avoid these at all costs.

Foot Entrapment - A foot entrapment is when a foot gets caught and will not let the body go down stream. The body is forced under water with no escape. While swimming in a river remember to relax, float feet first, on your back, keeping your feet and head up, and let your bottom hit the obstacles. This will reduce the chances of entrapment.

Keepers / Hydraulics - A keeper is when water falls over a drop. The water is recycled backwards in a circle. These can keep a boat and a swimmer in them. Always be aware of them and avoid them if possible.

Standing - Never stand in moving water above your knees. If you should hit a rock foot entrapment is likely.

Leaning - In a canoe or a kayak the rule is lean down stream. Any upstream lean will result in a capsize. Remember, the current runs backward in an eddy so lean the opposite way.

Have as much fun as possible, but be safe. A trip ruined by an avoidable accident is the worst kind.