Back From Rafting the Green River

Last week, I was lucky enough to be a participant on a big horn sheep and monarch butterfly biological survey trip on the Green River. Since the stunning and dramatic canyons of the Green are hardly accessible on day trips or by car, we needed a multi-day trip of rafting to look for sheep and monarchs in the heart of the river canyons. Thus, a group of 11 park staff and volunteers loaded up onto 4 rafts to enjoy a week of rafting, camping, and science.

We began the trip from the Gates of Lodore on the Green on a Sunday. The Gates of Lodore Canyons surround the river at the very Northern tip of Dinosaur on the Colorado site of the Monument. When it was time to launch, we packed away our tents and gear and meals into dry boxes, fastened our life jackets, and took out our binoculars to look for our study species. By Thursday, we would have crossed back over into Utah, passed through Whirlpool and Split Mountain Canyons, navigated several rapids, and rafted down around 40 river miles. The entire trip, I looked around in awe at the amazing geology of the river canyons. I also observed sheep and monarchs, took notes and photos, and generally had a pretty great time.

This was my first time really rafting and certainly my first time dealing with rapids and rocks while trying to do scientific observations and take notes. It’s not the easiest thing to write down things about monarch butterfly habitat while navigating through Hells Half Mile or Disaster Falls, for example. Nevertheless, I think I got some good work done and I have lots of results of look at now in my study of monarch habitat and migration. My next blog will explain what kinds of butterfly work I did on the trip.

I came back from the trip with a new appreciation for the diversity of landscapes in Dinosaur, a big stack of datasheets from my observations, and some pretty hideous tan lines on my feet from my rafting sandals. I am excited to be going on a rafting day trip again next week where I’ll get to enjoy the Green River again and do more field work. I’m thankful for my supervisors at Dinosaur, the wildlife biologist from the Park Service who rowed the monarch raft I rode in, and the volunteers who made this trip possible and welcomed me along.

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