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The Dreaded Ashley Falls

Once the most feared rapid on the Green River, Ashley Falls has been entombed deep in the waters of Flaming Gorge Reservoir since before the dam was completed.  This major rapid is only a few miles upriver from Flaming Gorge Dam, so as soon as the cofferdam was completed in 1957 Ashley Falls was covered.  For over 100 years before that, however, Ashley Falls was the stuff of nightmares for anyone trying to navigate the canyons of the upper Green River in Daggett County.  Just about in the middle of Red Canyon’s 30-mile length, Ashley Falls was formed when huge boulders fell from the canyon wall and all but blocked the river.  That makes it unique among Green River rapids, for most are formed from boulders washed down side streams.  And the boulders were massive; the one in the middle was the size of a house, while the ones on either side of it were the size of cars.  At low water, when the Green would all but dry up, a person could get a boat through the rocks on the right side, but the other side was blocked by rocks.  When the seasonal floods came, however, the Green could run as much as twenty times more water than is let out of the dam today, and Ashley Falls became a raging cataract that could be heard for a mile upriver.

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