• Happy Premieres of "Captain Kangaroo" and "Mickey Mouse Club" (1955)! 📺

Great Circle Route of (Easy) Western Paddling



I’ve been pondering the idea of a Great Circle route of western or southwestern paddling, kind of a canoe tripping version of the tourist visitor Nat’l Park circuit (Grand Canyon, Arches, Bryce, Zion, etc).

I would love to paddle the Rio Grande canyons in Big Bend again, but I don’t know what the Mexican border situation is there these days. I would paddle upstream into the Grand Canyon from Pierce Ferry again, if Lake Mead was ever filled enough to backwater the lower canyon.

Without question I’ll float the Green from Ruby Ranch to the Colorado again. Maybe the Colorado below Hoover Dam again as well. Those both have paid shuttle service and permits easily available.

I plan to bring an open tripping canoe for river runs, as well as a decked boat with rudder and sail for open water, so Mead, Powell and other lakes that permit boat-in camping would be possibilities, and might add variation beyond canyon paddling.

I would be paddling solo, with a heavy load of creature-comfort gear and sometimes permit-mandated equipment (toilet system, fire pan, spare this and that, etc), so whitewater runs are not of interest. Multi-day trips on Class I max, and I favor trips where I can spend at least a week camping on boat–in sites.

(Caveat: I can spend several days on a single site and be content to sit quietly, read, write, look, listen and immerse myself in the time and place, so length of distance is less important to me than length of time spent)

This fall, once schools are back in session, I’ll probably follow autumn south along the east coast from the Adirondacks to the Everglades, and that is familiar stomping grounds. But I’m also thinking of heading southwest next year and chasing spring north from the deserts into Western Canada.

Any suggestions for easy-water western tripping venues are appreciated.


I was up between Yaak and Lake Koocanusa in NW Montana in 1986 when my traveling companion declared that it was just too damn cold for her.

24 hours later we were in Tucson.

I’ve done some weird squiggles around the country ISO good weather. I like to drive, and sometimes the great thing is just to move.