River Trips Escalante to Whitewater on Gunnison River

Escalante to Whitewater through Escalante and Dominguez Canyons on Gunnison River

Rapid Classification: I and II
Length: 27.2 miles
Time on the river: 10-12 hours
Shuttle time from Grand Junction (getting to and from the river): 1 hour on each end of the trip
When: May through August

Price: $220 per person
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Trip Dates and Reservations

Day 1: Escalante to Bridgeport (13.2 miles)
Beautiful scenery, hidden rock art and solitude bring visitors to this 800' deep canyon. Opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing and exploring abound. We camp at Bridgeport, the confluence of the Big and Little Dominguez Creeks, which is about half-way to our destination. From our primitive camp site we can hike up Big Dominguez Canyon to go exploring for hidden petroglyphs and enjoy a magnificent waterfall. Desert Bighorn Sheep are occasionally spotted in the area.

  • About two miles downstream of the Escalante put-in is a large cave about a half mile from the river on river left.
  • Another mile downstream is a class II rapid. At high water a whirlpool about 100 yards in diameter forms at the top of the rapid.
  • The river passes through fruit orchards on the bottom of the canyon. In the fruit orchard section there is a small boulder dam with a clear chute on river left.
  • About 9 miles downstream from the put-in at Escalante is an abandoned two-story log cabin on river left.
  • Petroglyphs can be found by hiking up Dominguez Creek canyon.

Cottonwood stands in the area hold Great Blue Heron rookeries and the area is an April breeding ground for Canada Geese. The Gunnison River is a unique thread of life through these desert canyons, providing habitat for many threatened and endangered species. Eagles nest in the cottonwoods. Brought back from the edge of extinction, peregrine falcons soar along the cliffs in Dominguez Canyon where you might also see some of the reintroduced Desert Bighorn Sheep. If you are lucky and stay alert you might be able to spot beavers.

Day 2: Bridgeport to Whitewater (14 miles)
Beautiful scenery surrounds this quiet part of the river as it flows through sandstone canyons. Halfway through the trip the scenery changes to high desert rolling hills and cliffs. If you are lucky and stay alert you might be able to spot Bighorn Sheep, Bald Eagles and beavers. You will definitely see many birds, among them a Great Blue Heron.

Escalante boat ramp, where we put-in, is wide, easy and accessible for people on wheelchairs.
Whitewater take out has enough space for two or three kayaks (or one 18-foot raft) at one time. A steep trail to the parking lot mandates assistance to people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.

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