Deso is living cultural repository with a long history of human habitation. Every side hike offers adventures in splendid desert canyons. One can find rock art, granaries and other cultural traces left from an old people we refer to as, the Fremont. Also, turn of 19th and 20th century ranch houses can be found along with framing implements, whiskey cabins, fruit trees and irrigation works from a mountain creek. Several cold clear water creeks offer a great place to cool off and refill water (treat it of course).
However threats do exist to its pristine nature, solitude and ecological health. The unregulated Yampa River supplies the Green with high spring flows that flush and shift sediment providing a crucial ecological role for fish, cottonwoods, birds and bugs. In short we all need the river. The Yampa Pumpback Project, planned to divert flows from the Yampa to Colorado’s Front Range would have a range of sever effects in both the Yampa and Green Rivers. A large portion of western Desolation canyon is designated a Wilderness Study Area. Oil and Gas interests have made concentrated efforts around this zone developing and encroaching on the region. Current law suits and congressional proceedings make this area and other WSA’s highly contentious. Public lands require public input and participation, please Participate in cooperative and progressive public involvement.
Desolation Canyon, named by John Wesley Powell, is anything but desolate. The Green River runs through the Tavaputs Plateau creating the incisions of both Deso and later Gray Canyon named for coal and methane bearing rocks that appear “grey”. Along the 84 mile run an abundance of wildlife can be seen ranging from wild mustangs, avocets, desert bighorn and blue mouth suckers. Deso Gray is a fantastic family trip with great camping and rapids that offer every level of boater experience a great ride. The upper portions of the canyon is home to one of the world’s highest concentration of mosquitos between the months of May through August. However, once your trip has passed below Jack Creek the bugs tend to die down most every year.
The Permit process has changed a few times over the years and 2013 marked the beginning of yet another permit system. Recreational boaters have to apply through an online lottery system at Recreation.gov. Users will have to create a profile within the system and then choose up to four requested launch dates . Winning a permit only allows the boater to camp, hike and lunch on the western side of the river. To visit and camp on the eastern side of the canyon a permit is required from the Ute Tribe at Ute Tribe Fish and Wildlife Department. No one is allowed on Ute Land without a tribal permit. A trip through canyon is incomplete without one.
Deso is characterized by unique canyon walls that taper and terrace away from the river. Large Douglas Fir trees dot the steep upper reaches with Pinyon and Juniper extending down to a healthy riparian corridor full of Cottonwoods, willows and of course a little tamarisk.