Happy Canyon/Dirty Devil Inner Tube Loop! |

Trip Report

jeff@jeffandpaige.org Trip Reports

Happy Canyon/Dirty Devil Inner Tube Loop!

We had ourselves quite a day of it on Fri. 5/19/23. Camped the night prior about 5 miles in on the Poison Springs Canyon Rd. (2 low clearance Subaru Outbacks made it no problem) in a beautiful grove of Cottonwood complete/rife with surprise petroglyphs all over the campsite. Left camp @ 10am (which in retrospect was about 2 hours too late for the journey ahead) with a group of 7 in 2 high clearance vehicles bound for the confluence of Poison Springs Canyon and the Dirty Devil (beautiful drive, probably not passable by the Subarus among us). One vehicle parked riverside, the other shuttled all 7 of us 1/2 mile back up the road and parked on the shoulder. A 20 minute Class 3 scramble got us up to the Mesa and onto the road from Black Jump. Hiked approximately 1.5 miles on the road until a large boulder marked the beginning of the Happy Canyon Trail (and prevented a group of motorcycles from following us on foot). Happy Canyon Trail was a gorgeous 3.5 mile hike with sweeping views of the Dirty Devil River Valley. Trail is flat for the most part and we were able to cover those miles in about an hour. Happy Canyon itself is visible from above on the other side of the river, a delta of red silt pouring into the chocolate river. The trail makes a fishhook on its descent. Probably 20 minutes to get down to the river. The water was very warm and very silty. Don't stand too long on the shore or you'll sink in the ploppies up to your waist! At 160 cfs the river crossing was thigh high. 

We headed into Happy Canyon for about 30 minutes of easy slot hiking. Recent rains had created some fun puddle problems but nothing technical whatsoever in Happy. We'd wanted to hike the entirety of the slot but it was well into the afternoon by then and we still had a 7 mile float back to the truck in our future. 

Inner tubes inflated, one final snack and then 7 River Run tubes set off on the silty sea! I'll add some photos to an official trip report. The 7 mile float was not without effort, adversity and calamity. Only one of us had a wetsuit and he was the only one not shivering when we arrived at the truck with about 30 minutes of dusk to spare before total darkness. I would say the river averaged about 1.5 mph at 160 cfs. Plenty of rock shots to the butt and a few moments of walking through shallow ripples but for the most part excellent floating! 

My thanks to Michael G. for his advice and guidance via his own hike/river experience. One of the most epic days of my life and definitely my all-time favorite Utah day trip. Happy to be a resource for anyone who might like to attempt the hike/float loop. Email me jeff@jeffandpaige.org



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jeff@jeffandpaige.org Trip Reports