Gates of Lodore is a scenic entrance to the Canyon of Lodore, a canyon on the Green River in northwestern Colorado, United States. The name Gates of Lodore was given by John Wesley Powell, a geologist, and explorer of the American West, who was the first to navigate the Green River through the canyon in 1869. The Gates of Lodore is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, especially for rafting and kayaking.

The Gates of Lodore section starts out in the northwestern corner of Colorado and flows through Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. The river drops approximately 800 feet over 44 miles, creating exciting rapids and beautiful scenery. The section is divided into three parts: the Canyon of Lodore, Whirlpool Canyon, and Split Mountain Canyon. The Canyon of Lodore is the most popular part of the section, with water flowing through red sandstone walls that rise up to 2,000 feet high.

For those looking for adventure, the Gates of Lodore section offers a thrilling rafting and kayaking experience. The rapids range from Class II to Class IV, providing a challenge for both beginners and experienced paddlers. The section is also home to various wildlife, including bighorn sheep, deer, and bald eagles. The Gates of Lodore is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty and thrill of the American West.

Location and Overview


The Gates of Lodore is a section of the Green River that flows through Dinosaur National Monument, located in the northwestern corner of Colorado and Utah. The river runs for approximately 44 miles through this section, starting at the boat ramp at the head of Lodore Canyon and ending at the confluence with the Yampa River. The area is characterized by towering red rock cliffs, lush vegetation, and abundant wildlife, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Green River itself is a major tributary of the Colorado River, stretching over 730 miles from its headwaters in Wyoming to its confluence with the Colorado River in southeastern Utah. The river is known for its scenic beauty, with numerous canyons, rapids, and waterfalls along its route.


The Gates of Lodore section of the Green River has a rich history, with evidence of human habitation in the area dating back thousands of years. The Fremont people, who lived in the region from around 600 to 1300 AD, left behind numerous petroglyphs and other artifacts that can still be seen today.

The area was also explored by various European and American explorers in the 19th century, including John Wesley Powell, who led the first recorded expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869. The name “Gates of Lodore” was coined by Powell, who was inspired by a poem by Robert Southey that described a similar-sounding location in England.

Today, the Gates of Lodore is a popular destination for rafting and kayaking trips, with numerous outfitters offering guided tours and equipment rentals. The area is also home to several campgrounds and hiking trails, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

Recreation and Activities


The Gates of Lodore is a popular destination for rafting enthusiasts. The river offers Class III and IV rapids, providing a thrilling adventure for rafters. There are several companies that offer guided rafting trips, ranging from one-day to multi-day trips. These trips allow you to explore the untouched territory, which was first explored by John Wesley Powell.

It is important to note that the river can be dangerous, so it is recommended that you go with a professional guide. The water levels can change quickly, and the rapids can be unpredictable. Safety should always be a top priority when rafting in the Gates of Lodore.


The Gates of Lodore area offers several hiking trails for visitors to explore. The trails range from easy to difficult, and offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. One of the most popular trails is the Ely Creek Trail, which is a 4-mile round trip hike that takes you to a beautiful waterfall. Another popular trail is the Jones Hole Trail, which is a 4.5-mile round trip hike that takes you through a scenic canyon.

It is important to remember to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the area can get very hot during the summer months. Also, make sure to wear appropriate footwear, as the trails can be rocky and uneven.


The Gates of Lodore area offers several camping options for visitors. The Gates of Lodore Campground is located within Dinosaur National Monument and offers 47 campsites. The campground is open year-round and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. There are also several backcountry camping options available for visitors who want a more secluded camping experience.

It is important to note that camping in the area requires a permit, which can be obtained from the National Park Service. Also, make sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and properly dispose of all waste.

Wildlife and Ecology

The Gates of Lodore is a unique ecosystem that provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. The riparian environment along the Green River sustains a diverse range of plant and animal species. Visitors can expect to see a variety of birds, including bald eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons. The river also supports populations of beavers, otters, and muskrats.

Many species of fish, such as rainbow and brown trout, live in the river’s clear waters. The surrounding hills and canyons are home to deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. The area is also known for its unique geological formations, including towering red rock cliffs and hoodoos.

Visitors are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize the impact on the fragile ecosystem. This includes packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and avoiding disturbing wildlife. The National Park Service offers guided hikes and educational programs to help visitors learn more about the local ecology and how to protect it.

Conservation and Preservation

Conservation and preservation efforts are crucial for protecting the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Gates of Lodore area. The Dinosaur National Monument, which includes the Gates of Lodore, is managed by the National Park Service with a focus on preserving the area’s unique geological and ecological features for future generations to enjoy.

The Green River, which flows through the Gates of Lodore, has been the subject of numerous conservation battles in the past. In the 1950s, the proposed Colorado River Storage Project would have flooded the area, destroying much of the natural habitat and altering the river’s flow. However, thanks to the efforts of conservationists and concerned citizens, the project was eventually scaled back and the Gates of Lodore were saved from destruction.

Today, visitors to the Gates of Lodore can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities while also learning about the area’s fragile ecosystem. Rafting trips down the Green River are a popular way to experience the natural beauty of the area, but it’s important to do so responsibly. Visitors should follow all park rules and regulations, including those related to waste disposal and wildlife interactions, to ensure that the Gates of Lodore remain a pristine wilderness area for generations to come.

FAQ Section

What class rapids are in Gates of Lodore?

The rapids in Gates of Lodore range from class II to class III. The class II sections are fun in inflatable kayaks and stand up paddleboards, while the class III rapids are enough to keep everyone excited about whitewater. The rapids in Gates of Lodore are perfect for both beginners and experienced rafters, making it a great adventure for the whole family.

How long is the Gates of Lodore trip?

The Gates of Lodore trip is typically a 5-day trip covering 44 miles. However, the length of the trip can vary depending on the water levels and the pace of the group. It is important to plan accordingly and bring enough food and supplies for the entire trip.

What time of year is best for Gates of Lodore?

The best time to visit Gates of Lodore is during the summer months, from May to September. During this time, the weather is warm and the water levels are typically higher, providing a more exciting whitewater experience. However, it is important to check the water levels before planning your trip, as they can vary depending on the snowmelt and rainfall in the area.

It is also important to note that during the peak season, permits for the Gates of Lodore trip can be difficult to obtain. It is recommended to plan ahead and apply for permits as early as possible to ensure availability.