Delta County and the vast area surrounding it for hundreds of miles in all directions provides unlimited opportunities for great outdoor adventuring.The chance for multi-day back country adventure far from roads and shopping malls is equally available to an afternoon of real life, world class outdoor challenge virtually within sight of the nearest McDonalds Restaurant.
Just thinking about the peace and beauty of a five-day river trip by canoe through some of the best canyon country in the West is enough to put one in touch with the urge for a wildland trek. The five days were spent on the Green River below Moab including an overnight backpacking trip into Horseshoe Canyon, one of the many scenic side canyons along the river corridor.
It is hard to imagine a more peaceful and relaxing way to spend five isolated days far away from everything than on a canoe trip through the Labyrinth Canyon area on the Green River west of Moab.
Viewing rare wildlife up close; actually experiencing the western canyon scenery that fills countless post cards, calendars, and magazine covers; hiking into and living inside canyons with ancient petroglyphs that even few native Americans have ever seen; basking in the benign radiance of sun-struck red rock canyon walls; sleeping in late at a primitive sand bar camp site before a few hours of leisurely canoeing down river to the next camp – just thinking about it will lower your blood pressure ten points.
Put-in for the trip took place at Ruby Ranch, a few miles south of the most popular put-in at Green River State Park. It was about 60 miles to the Mineral Bottom take-out.
The trip provides still, placid waters with no rapids. The stretch of river is perfect for gentle canoeing or river floating at an unhurried pace which provides plenty of time for gazing at the awesome canyon country scenery, and for taking care of camp chores which are always best accomplished at an unhurried pace.
The landscape encountered on the trip is virtually totally unchanged from the way it appeared to John Wesley Powell, whose party first explored the river in 1869 and who named the canyon. According to the BLM, “Four and a half miles down river, a terraced formation formed by mineralized water spills into the river. This is Crystal Geyser, an unsuccessful oil well drill site which spurts erratically. The geyser did not exist in Major Powell’s time.”
Who hasn’t sat at his desk on a beautiful western Colorado afternoon and fantasized about some outdoor fun and challenge in our area’s outdoor playground? That fantasy can quickly come to life for someone with the right training and knowledge, a good friend competent in the outdoors, and some top notch equipment during an afternoon rock climb to the top of Independence Monument near Fruita.
The technical climb to the top of the 450-foot-high Independence Monument in the Colorado National Monument is not considered an especially difficult or challenging one by experienced climbers.
However, experience, good gear, and a competent companion are essentials in the trip, which can be accomplished in a good, long afternoon of climbing.
Otto’s Route is the most popular route to the top. It is named for area explorer and promoter John Otto.
This climb began with a rappel from the parking area along Rimrock Drive near the park visitor center to the valley floor over 100 feet below.
After reaching a floor there is a 40-minute to one-hour-long hike to approach the sandstone spire known as Independence Monument before the technical climbing begins.
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The biggest problems a well-planned excursion into our area’s backcountry will likely encounter are running out of ice and deciding which adventure to take next weekend.