Moffat County celebrates historic expedition with John Wesley Powell 150th anniversary event |

Moffat County celebrates historic expedition with John Wesley Powell 150th anniversary event

Moffat County will celebrate the 150th anniversary of John Wesley Powell's discovery of the confluence of the Yampa and Green rivers.
Courtesy Photo

Moffat County will host interpretive hikes with the National Park Service to celebrate the 150th anniversary of John Wesley Powell reaching the confluence of the Yampa and Green rivers.

The expedition began in May 1869 along the Green River in Wyoming before reaching the Northwest Colorado site on June 17, 1869.

In Powell’s book, “The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons,” the explorer detailed the experience.

“With one of the men I climb a mountain, off on the right. A long spur, with broken ledges of rock, put down to the river, and along its course, or up the ‘hogback,’ as it is called, I made the ascent,” Powell wrote. “This half range, beyond the river, is composed of long ridges nearly parallel with the valley. On the farther ridge, to the north, four creeks have their sources. These cut through the intervening ridges, one of which is much higher than that on which they head, by canyon gorges; then they run with gentle curves across the valley, their bank set with willows, box elders, and cottonwood groves. To the east we look up the valley of the Vermilion, through which Fremont found his path on his way to the great parks of Colorado. The reading of the barometer taken, we start down in company, and reach camp tired and hungry, which does not abate one bit our enthusiasm as we tell of the day’s work with its glory of landscape.”

The sesquicentennial event starts with a full moon interpretive walk from 9 to 10:30 p.m. June 17 followed the next day by a complimentary lunch June 18 at the group campsite in Echo Park near Dinosaur National Monument.

Hikes from 9:30 to 11 a.m. or 1:30 to 3 p.m. will be available. From noon to 1 p.m. Ray Sumner, a great-grandson to Jack Sumner, the 1869 lead boatman of the Powell expedition, will be in attendance to give an interpretive talk on a decade’s worth of research.

Camping is very limited at the Echo Park Campground and is only available on a first-come, first-serve basis for $10 per site. Reservations are not available in advance. Early arrival is advised.

Uintah County and Vernal, Utah will host its own weeklong celebration to commemorate the 150th anniversary, as well, with the River Festival from June 17 to 22. The final day includes “A Night Along the River” at Split Mountain, which begins with participants being shuttled from the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry.

For more information, visit or call 970-824-2335.

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