Expedition Packrafting: Dark Canyon & Colorado River Adventure
Explore remote Dark Canyon by foot, then exit via the Colorado River With a Packraft to more remote spots in the glen canyon national recreation area
This 4-day Expedition Packrafting course offers beginner packrafters access to the remote Colorado River through the lower portion of Cataract Canyon. Starting at the Sundance trail we hike a relatively easy trail along the canyon rim, then descend the rough and steep Sundance trail (a 1200 vertical foot drop) into Dark Canyon.
Known for clear flowing water, ancient ruins and remote hiking, Dark Canyon forms at the Western Flank of the Blue Mountains and flows through the Bears Ears National Monument for close to 40 miles before merging with the Colorado River in the Glen Canyon National Rec Area. Our hike will take us through the lower section toward the Colorado River with one camp along the way. Once we exit Dark Canyon it’s a 30-mile paddle out on the Colorado with two nights camping on the river.
This is an Expedition Packrafting course, so we’ll have two Zoom meetings prior to the course to discuss and plan the logistics for this trip.
A 25% deposit is required to secure your space. And another 25% deposit is required within 90 days of the course. You’ll need to provide the remaining balance 30 days prior to your course. The remaining balance is due immediately if you are registering inside of the 30 day window.
Additionally, please review our cancellation policy, which you will find on our Terms, Conditions & Cancellation Policy Page.
We expect most people to either fly and rent a car or drive to the put in/start point to meet us on the first day of this trip. However, up to two people can meet us in Mancos, and we can carpool together to Utah if that is most convenient.
This course includes an open packraft, PFD, paddle, helmet, permits, camping, etc. This price does not include a food and sanitation package, but you may add a package for $40 per day.
This price does not include a food and sanitation package, which is an additional $40 per day.
We do not provide transportation, though we will work together on the shuttle logistics. Also we do not provide whitewater boats, drysuits, river knives, whistles or throw bags. This time of year it’s very unlikely that you’ll need a drysuit.
Steve Fassbinder: Steve, aka “Doom,” is one of the country’s first Level 3 American Canoe Association Packraft Instructors. As well he is a Level 3 Kayak Instructor, is certified in Advanced Swiftwater Safety and as a Wilderness First Responder. An early adopter of packrafting, he has guided for three years and done remote packrafting expeditions worldwide for a dozen years.
We designed this trip for adventurers looking to hone their backcountry packrafting skills. Although we do teach many of the standard techniques from our other packrafting courses, we spend less time on self-rescue and aggressive swimming skills and drills. Instead we focus more on what it takes to accomplish a multi-day packraft adventure in the backcountry. Checklist of things we cover in this course:
- ✔️Basic packraft equipment use and care
- ✔️Self-rescue, partner-rescue
- ✔️Dealing with currents
- ✔️Aggressive & defensive swimming positions
- ✔️River dynamics
- ✔️Intermediate paddle strokes
- ✔️Using eddies
- ✔️River commands
Plus, you’ll learn some of these skills:
- ✔️Field repair-tips & tricks
- ✔️How to pack light for backcountry packraft adventures
- ✔️Using online resources: GIS, USGS water gauges, Google Earth, etc
- ✔️Using paper maps and navigation in the field
- ✔️Trip planning & logistics
- ✔️Expedition pack lists
- ✔️What to pack and how/where to pack it
- ✔️Expedition vs. personal items
- ✔️Expedition food planning and prep
- ✔️Leave No Trace practices in the backcountry
- ✔️Managing your backcountry camping and boating gear
- ✔️How to find a good camp
- ✔️How to efficiently transition from the river to camp
- ✔️Reading whitewater/hazards and avoiding them
- ✔️Expedition mentality