One of my favorite things about kayaking the Colorado in February is the lack of people on the river. Meeting your backhaul Captain at the dock with no one in the Lee's Ferry parking lot but the 16 dirtbag rafters preparing for their 25 day Grand Canyon river trip is quite fulfilling. In those mornings of calm and peace I have seen the most amazing things. Ospreys building a nest above the bathroom, beavers swimming with an arrow weed bush, deer crossing the river, and the howl of a bobcat who is communicating with nature, are a few of the miracles one is more apt to experience in the off-season.
If you are having cabin fever, and want to get a jump on your spring, try a peaceful river trip with Kayak the Colorado, we are the only outfitter assisting kayakers upstream in February and November. It is not a lucrative time, and we have to go through a few more steps to ready the boat everyday but we at Kayak the Colorado are kayakers and we appreciate clients that have the urge to paddle.
A few things to keep in mind in February and November. Always be prepared. It is cooler in the morning and evening, and the river has alot of shade in the deep canyon gorge of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Generally speaking the Low and High temperatures range from 30 degrees Farhenheit to 60 degrees Farhenheit. The biggest mistake I see people make when they arrive for the morning backhaul taxi upstream is to be under dressed. Remember the first thing after you arrive is you will be jumping on a motor boat running upstream at 30 mph. Standing on the dock it may be 45 degrees at 10am and a long sleeve shirt may be adequate but after the boat leaves the dock the wind factor will cool things down considerably. If you want to arrive comfortably at the Petroglyph Panel ready for a day or two of kayaking, layer up. Long sleeve under shirt, fleece and something with a hood and beanie. Long underwear underneath your pants are nice too. In this way you will be ready for the cool ride up and arrive at the put-in warm and comfortable. As the day warms up you can take layers off. PRO tip- bring a thermos of hot chocolate, chicken soup, or tea. It will taste devine.
Second, bring a backup set of clothes, and rent a dry bag. In the rare case you accidentally capsize, you will be prepared with a new warm set of clothes to put on. Always plan on your own self rescue, relying on others can be irresponsible and unnecessary. There's plenty of room in the kayak, why not be ready for anything? You may not capsize but if someone else does and they didn't come prepared, you could save the day.
A few more things to bring:
Lunch and Snacks
Phone with a waterproof case or drybag
Don't forget your beanie
My wife loves the hand warmers
If you are camping:
30 degree Sleeping bag
Book and headlamp-the nights are long and you won't want to leave your bag until at least 9am
Any Medications you may be taking
Firewood to be burnt in the fire barrels at camp
Marble Canyon is an amazing place in the winter. If you have the opportunity to explore the area for up to a week, plan to do one of the myriad of hikes in the Vermilion Cliffs area after you get off the river. Wire Pass, Paria Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, Jack Ass Canyon, the Crack, Kens Tour at Lower Antelope Canyon are a few of the amazing romps just nearby.
“There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.”
Lee's Ferry Lodge at the Vermilion Cliffs or "VC" as the locals call it is a great place to explore the area from each day. BBQ's surround the property, bring your own food and marvel at the Solitude of Marble Canyon.