Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons II

September 16-20, 2020

Five years after the group took our first trip down Labyrinth and Stillwater canyons along the Green River, we set out for our fourth canoeing trip (the middle two being the upper part of Labyrinth from Ruby to Mineral). Lyman led the charge and did all the legwork with Tex’s Riverways and Canyonlands National Park to book the trip. Everyone met in Moab on Wednesday morning at Tex’s and we helped to load gear into the trailer, then we were on our way to Mineral Bottom. The NPS ranger watched us prepare our boats and gear and decided to spare us the obligatory lecture regarding rules and regulations, and we were on the river shortly after 11:00AM.

Unloading gear at Tex’s Riverways in Moab
Unloading gear at Tex's Riverways in Moab

Mineral Bottom switchbacks
Mineral Bottom switchbacks

Obligatory lecture from the park ranger (he was actually pretty cool)
Obligatory lecture from the park ranger (he was actually pretty cool)

On the Green River
On the Green River


We only floated about a third of a mile before the first stop at Tidwell Bottom. There we hiked a couple of miles and found the remains of an old cabin, some inscriptions, rock art, and ruins. We also searched for a rumored 1880s inscription but failed to find it. We got back on the river briefly and floated less than a mile and checked out a corral at the far lower end of Tidwell Bottom.

Landing spot at Tidwell Bottom
Landing spot at Tidwell Bottom

Tidwell Bottom
Tidwell Bottom

Stove at Tidwell Bottom
Stove at Tidwell Bottom

Bed frame at Tidwell cabin
Bed frame at Tidwell cabin

Dalphie Tidwell, Wellington, Utah, October th 22, 1920?
Dalphie Tidwell, Wellington, Utah, October th 22, 1920?

H.T. Yokey, April 11, 1911
H.T. Yokey, April 11, 1911

Delbert Tidwell, Wellington, Utah, Oct. 22, 1920, and Earn Prettyman, Jan 18, 1927
Delbert Tidwell, Wellington, Utah, Oct. 22, 1920, and Earn Prettyman, Jan 18, 1927

Ruin atop a large boulder
Ruin atop a large boulder

Pictograph
Pictograph

Corral just below Tidwell Bottom
Corral just below Tidwell Bottom


Our next planned stop was a stone cabin quite a way down the river–about eight miles–and although we got out to try to hike there, we ran into too much tamarisk. The group floated a short distance downstream and found a place to camp on an island and set up for the night. On Thursday morning we floated about half a mile down the river and found/improved a break in the willows and tamarisk below the stone cabin. We hiked about 1.2 miles round trip to see the cabin. It was a well-constructed structure against a ledge in a small canyon. There was a fair amount of fancy-looking broken glass lying on the ground. On the hike back to the canoes I found a nice shed deer antler, and I picked it up very briefly with the intent to bring it home with me before I remembered I was in a national park and couldn’t legally do that, so I threw it back on the ground where I found it.

Mine at Woodruff Bottom
Mine at Woodruff Bottom

Mine shaft above Saddle Horse Bottom
Mine shaft above Saddle Horse Bottom

Entering Canyonlands National Park
Entering Canyonlands National Park

Exploring across from Hardscrabble Bottom
Exploring across from Hardscrabble Bottom

Island camp below Hardscrabble Bottom
Island camp below Hardscrabble Bottom

Thursday morning canoes
Thursday morning canoes

Happy to be back on the river
Happy to be back on the river

Pushing through into the willows
Pushing through into the willows

Above the willows
Above the willows

Approaching the stone cabin
Approaching the stone cabin

Stone cabin
Stone cabin

Lester Underwood, Springville, Utah, Feb. 22, 1958
Lester Underwood, Springville, Utah, Feb. 22, 1958

Fancy glass
Fancy glass

Deer antler
Deer antler


The next stop was at Fort Bottom and the Walker Cabin. Most of the group had seen the cabin and the nearby Native American ruin, so we split up at the cabin and some of the group and I walked downstream along the bottom while others hiked up to the moqui fort. The part of the group I was with visited several granaries along the base of the cliffs before returning to the canoes.

Fort Bottom ruin
Fort Bottom ruin

Walker Cabin
Walker Cabin

Fort Bottom ruin
Fort Bottom ruin

Fort Bottom ruin
Fort Bottom ruin

Fort Bottom water trough
Fort Bottom water trough

Fort Bottom ruin
Fort Bottom ruin

Darwin Allies, 1943
Darwin Allies, 1943

2005 Canyonlands survey marker
2005 Canyonlands survey marker

Bighorn Mesa viewed from Fort Bottom
Bighorn Mesa viewed from Fort Bottom


We spent the following five hours or so floating about 15 miles down the Green. There were several places we wanted to stop to visit points of interest that our research had turned up, but at most of them there was too much brush to get off the river. We did stop at Gin Pole camp where early paddle boats had frequented and left car axles embedded in the sandstone to moor their boats to. We also spotted some granaries between Anderson Bottom and Valentine Bottom but we weren’t able to stop for a closer look.

Paul and Terri
Paul and Terri

Bighorn Butte reflection
Bighorn Butte reflection

Buttes of the Cross
Buttes of the Cross

On the river near Millard Canyon
On the river near Millard Canyon

Above Queen Anne Bottom
Above Queen Anne Bottom

Heron
Heron

Parked below Gin Pole camp
Parked below Gin Pole camp

Axles embedded in the sandstone for mooring lines
Axles embedded in the sandstone for mooring lines

Passing Anderson Bottom
Passing Anderson Bottom

Reflection below Anderson Bottom
Reflection below Anderson Bottom

Reflection below Anderson Bottom
Reflection below Anderson Bottom

Granaries near Valentine Bottom
Granaries near Valentine Bottom

Granaries near Valentine Bottom
Granaries near Valentine Bottom

Candlestick Tower
Candlestick Tower


A sandy beach at the lower end of Valentine Bottom was our camp for the night. On Friday morning we paddled less than a mile down the river and stopped to see a couple of granaries. After another mile on the river we stopped to see the remains of a cabin supposedly built by Bill Tibbetts that burned down in the mid- to late-1930s. All that was left was the chimney.

Camp at Valentine Bottom
Camp at Valentine Bottom

Shambo
Shambo

Prepping to hit the water on Friday morning
Prepping to hit the water on Friday morning

Millard Canyon Benches above the Green River
Millard Canyon Benches above the Green River

Alan and Weston below a granary in the cliffs
Alan and Weston below a granary in the cliffs

Very cool high granary
Very cool high granary

Another granary
Another granary

Bill Tibbetts cabin
Bill Tibbetts cabin


After a couple more miles on the river we stopped above Turk’s Head and hiked to some boulders with a lot of petroglyphs on them. It was a challenge getting off the river and past some ledges and brush up to the rock art.

Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs
Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs

Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs
Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs

Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs
Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs

Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs
Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs

Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs
Tuxedo Bottom petroglyphs

Turk’s Head
Turk's Head


Another five miles on the most scenic portion of the river brought us to Deadhorse Canyon. There we found some petroglyphs, including one panel reminiscent of some fighting scenes in Nine Mile Canyon and along the San Rafael River closer to home. Alan and I stopped at Jasper Canyon to see a granary there, while the rest of the group passed us up. We met up again a few miles downstream at our camp about seven miles above the Confluence. It had been a long day on the river–over 20 miles–perhaps the longest stretch of river we’d floated in a single day.

Heron
Heron

Inside the bend around Turk’s Head
Inside the bend around Turk's Head

Turk’s Head
Turk's Head

Just above Deadhorse Canyon
Just above Deadhorse Canyon

Trail up Deadhorse Canyon
Trail up Deadhorse Canyon

Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs
Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs

Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs
Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs

Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs
Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs

Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs
Deadhorse Canyon petroglyphs

Floatin’ on down the river
Floatin' on down the river

Green River reflection
Green River reflection

Jasper Canyon granary
Jasper Canyon granary

Jasper Canyon lookout
Jasper Canyon lookout

Friday night camp at mile seven
Friday night camp at mile seven

Some dinner tunes
Some dinner tunes

Dinner time
Dinner time


Saturday morning came and most of the group packed up camp and paddled across the river a very short distance. We climbed about 1,800′ above the river to an old cabin that had burned down relatively recently. All that’s left is a few bed frames and other junk lying around, probably dating to the latest uranium boom in the region.

Mile seven panorama
Mile seven panorama

Start of the hike to the burned cabin
Start of the hike to the burned cabin

Mile seven panorama
Mile seven panorama

Natural arches
Natural arches

Approaching the crux of the burned cabin hike
Approaching the crux of the burned cabin hike

Old road coming down from White Crack
Old road coming down from White Crack

Sandstone bench
Sandstone bench

Drill pipes
Drill pipes

The Golden Years
The Golden Years

Bed frames at the burned cabin
Bed frames at the burned cabin

Pierre Smirnoff vodka bottle
Pierre Smirnoff vodka bottle

Broken plates
Broken plates

Bed frame detail
Bed frame detail

Cabin door hinges
Cabin door hinges

Stove
Stove

More of the old road
More of the old road

Val and Mark high above the river
Val and Mark high above the river

Terri and Paul
Terri and Paul

Alan resting in the shade
Alan resting in the shade

Descending the burned cabin route
Descending the burned cabin route


After meeting back up with the rest of the group and floating seven miles down the river, we poked around at the Confluence. We found a couple of inscriptions by early surveyors and then continued downstream along the Colorado River and camped at the first camp spot at upper Spanish Bottom. According to my GPS, we’d covered 70.7 combined river and hiking miles. It was a pleasant night except for the time I saw a mouse run under my tent, which worried me until I eventually fell asleep.

Approaching the Confluence
Approaching the Confluence

May 4th, 1889 inscription at the Confluence
May 4th, 1889 inscription at the Confluence

1914 inscription
1914 inscription

Confluence of the Green (left) and Colorado (straight ahead) rivers
Confluence of the Green (left) and Colorado (straight ahead) rivers

On the Colorado River below the Confluence
On the Colorado River below the Confluence

Danger
Danger

Approaching Spanish Bottom
Approaching Spanish Bottom

70.7 combined river and hiking miles
70.7 combined river and hiking miles

View across the Colorado toward the Needles District
View across the Colorado toward the Needles District

My little corner of camp
My little corner of camp


Sunday morning came and our trip was basically over even though we had a nearly full day ahead of us. We all packed up our gear along the river bank and waited for the jetboat pickup–everyone except the three who stayed behind an extra day to hike up to the Doll House. The rest of the group boarded the jetboat shortly after 11:00AM. About 25 minutes later the jetboat stopped to pick up Randy and his group who had spent four days on the Colorado River in Meander Canyon. A couple of hours later we were at the Potash boat ramp near Moab waiting for the short bus to take us into town. After returning to Tex’s and spending quite a bit of time waiting for the jetboat to arrive and unloading all the gear and packing it up into our vehicles, we ate an early dinner at Moab Brewery. Alan and I said our goodbyes to the rest of the group and drove back to Price. It was so nice to return home and see my wife and kids and doggos, but I missed the river enough that a month later Chris and I returned for a very nice late season trip…

The Doll House above Spanish Bottom
The Doll House above Spanish Bottom

Sacred datura
Sacred datura

Preparing for the jetboat pickup
Preparing for the jetboat pickup

Jetboat departing Spanish Bottom
Jetboat departing Spanish Bottom

Picking up Randy’s group above the Loop
Picking up Randy's group above the Loop

Waitin’ for the short bus at Potash boat ramp
Waitin' for the short bus at Potash boat ramp

Tex’s Riverways truck and jetboat
Tex's Riverways truck and jetboat


Photo Gallery: Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons II