Yampa River Raft Trip:

Day 4 - Saturday, May 25, 2002



We arose to clear skies and warm temperatures, had coffee and breakfast and then sat out on the beach while the guides finished cleaning up and campers finished packing up. As we waited, we marveled at several turkey vultures that were gaining the morning thermals on the cliff walls directly across the river from us. The TVs flew back and forth across the face of the cliff and the sunshine cast shadows, exact duplicates, on the walls. At times it was hard to distinguish the birds from their shadows.
When everyone was ready we took a short hike up Box Elder Draw, behind the campsites. Our efforts were rewarded by the sightings of several species of birds and flowers. At the top of the draw, Mike showed us a small hanging garden and explained how and why it formed and thrived. Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip:
We backtracked to the beach and attended morning class, the highlight of which was Ed’s presentation on the endangered Colorado squawfish he had caught while we hiked. Soon after he caught it an off-duty river ranger floated by and asked how the fishing was and there was the prize fish in Ed’s bucket. Fortunately Ed’s reputation as a fisheries biologist who was known to the ranger and his catch went unreported. He, of course, returned it to the river, after we all examined it.
Then we launched the rafts and headed downstream for 2 miles, to the confluence of the Yampa and Green rivers. Just above the confluence the rafts all pulled over and we climbed up the embankment several hundred to an overlook where we looked out on the confluence, Steamboat Rock and Echo Park. Yampa River Raft Trip: We walked through a large area of cryptobiotic soil along the way. Yampa River Raft Trip:
The overlook where we stopped was marked by a cairn that Emmett had erected on a prior trip - at the spot that a photo, which he showed us, was taken by a member of the second John Wesley Powell expedition in 1872. It was quite interesting to note how the river channels and riparian habitat had changed between then and now. Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip:
When we returned to the beach lunch was waiting for us. Then we hopped on the rafts and rode through Echo Park, first
Yampa River Raft Trip: heading south along the east side of Steamboat Rock, then circling around its sound side and, finally turning back north along its west side. At the south end of the park, the guides pulled the rafts close to shore so we could see (albeit barely) a large petroglyph of a buffalo at the mouth of Pool Canyon. This petroglyph, and others further up the side canyon, had been drawn by Fremont Indians 1,200-1,600 years ago. Yampa River Raft Trip:

As we turned back west at the end of Echo Park, we encountered the geological wonder of the trip - Mitten Park fault. The rafts pulled over on a sandbar right at the fault and Emmett explained the characteristics and features of the fault. On the right
side of the fault,the Morgan formation was folded and bent upwards as finally ripped off, as the older Precambrian rocks on the left side rose. This gave us our first views of the 1 billion year old Uinta Mountain Group, now at river level, that is the basement rock of the northwest Colorado/northeast Utah region. Above the Uinta group is the Cambrian Ladore formation, whose counterpart in the Grand Canyon is Tapeats sandstone. On top of the Ladore is Madison limestone, whose counterparts are Redwall limestone in the Grand Canyon and Leadville limestone throughout most of Colorado. Yampa River Raft Trip:
Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip:
Yampa River Raft Trip: We returned to the rafts and headed west into Whirlpool Canyon. Less than a mile downstream we saw “seastacks”, comprised of Uinta columns protruding up into the much younger Ladore formation. They are called seastacks, because they resemble the seastacks we see today along the northern California and Oregon coasts, except these were formed in Cambrian times by harder Uinta columns that did not erode and were covered over time as seas washed over them. Then sandy beaches formed and hardened into Ladore sandstone. Yampa River Raft Trip:
Yampa River Raft Trip: As we proceeded deeper into Whirlpool Canyon, the Uinta formation gradually dipped into the river and fell out of sight. The Ladore formation was now at river level, with Lodgepole, and Deseret limestones and the Humbug formation (all from the Mississippian age) above. Five miles down from Harpers Corner, we passed Jones Hole, where we had camped on both of our previous trips down the Green, famous for it skunks. Today, however, we were to be spared and continued on for less than a mile to Compromise, where we camped for our final night on the river. Yampa River Raft Trip:
Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip: Yampa River Raft Trip:

Contents Page