Trip Report: Battling Bugs Near Choprock & Neon Canyons

Just back from Neon/Choprock area. Near the river, the green flies are swarming and totally vicious. I cannot recommend camping anywhere near the river, in fact, we planned to stop at Fence camp to pump water and could not.

Up above, the Cedar Gnats are similarly swarming and biting. Very difficult. We found a few places with enough wind to keep them off us, but in general with a 20 knot wind we were being devoured.

Above the Escalante River and the entrance to Neon Canyon.

The river is up about a foot from two weeks ago. We found a crossing just upstream from Fence Canyon where we just barely made it across without being swept off our feet. So, waist deep and flowing strong.

Doing the direct line (bee line) to the mouth of Neon, you can walk upstream a bit and there is a crossing there which is among the shallowest. At this point, though, it still might sweep you off your feet, so I would recommend drybagging your gear. The river is fairly warm at this point.

We “pack-rafted” from Choprock down to Neon, and it was great fun. The river is deep enough to only bounce painfully off the bottom once in a while. The temperature is good, meaning in a 4/3 wetsuit, we were neither too cold nor too hot while floating the river. Careful planning is advised so that minimal time is spent doing a changeover in the green fly zone or in the cedar gnat zone.

Choprock was divine, of course.

Did Neon about two weeks ago. Water levels are down. Keeper is filled with enough sand to not be much of a keeper. I recommend against hiking down and camping, due to the flies and gnat. Camping at or near the trailhead is likely to be hostile too. I would only go down there with the idea that you might have to float/swim the river crossing, have your stuff fully drybagged and your people ready for this interesting style of passage.



About Tom

Tom Jones is an inventor, author, entrepreneur, gear tester, photographer, and, first and foremost, a canyoneer, living in the hamlet of Mt. Carmel, Utah, on the east side of Zion National Park. Tom is also a valued member of the ZAC Guide Corps, weaving in numerous training and guiding days amongst his myriad adventures and responsibilities.
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