Getaway to Green River

Perhaps you have only bothered to stop in Green River to fill up your tank. Though it may appear not much is going on in this sleepy hamlet, if you venture off the main drag, some surprises await. The eponymous river that gives this town life runs right through its heart. Providing irrigation for the bumper crop of melons that ripen every fall, habitat for four endangered native fish, and a put-in-point for a 120-mile float through Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons, the river is the center of tourism and recreation for the area.

During the third weekend of September, the town pays homage to the succulent melons grown in sandy soil irrigated by the Green. Melon Days is small town fun, chock-a-block with events. A Melon Queen pageant, softball, volleyball and magic tournaments, pancake breakfast, parade and duck race, provide entertainment for all. Though the watermelon reigns supreme, try a Crenshaw, Canary, honeydew, cantaloupe or Israeli. Better yet, buy one of each and have a melon tasting fiesta.

Photo by Kirk Marshall

Right on the river, in the heart of town, is the John Wesley Powel River History Museum. An art galley, dinosaur exhibit, river runner hall of fame and a boat room give insight into the river’s legacy. The museum’s outdoor pavilion is a great place for a picnic and provides a full view of Gunnison Butte, part of one of the longest cliff bands in the world, stretching 240 miles from Helper, UT to Grand Junction, CO.

Andrew Rogers, an artist from Australia, received a strange email from a lawyer: “I represent a client with a 75 acre parcel near Green River, Utah, a scenic desert landscape in east central Utah. My client is possibly interested in a land art project on his property. He is 88 years old and wants to leave a lasting mark of some kind.”

Photo by Pippa Keene 

This initial missive gave birth to massive modern art on Monument Hill, a bluff between interstate 70 and town. The sculptures Ratio and Elements are part of Rogers’ Rhythms of life series, are accessible by car, and add a Bohemian air to town.

Crystal Geyser, a geologic oddity, lies 4.5 miles downstream from Green River. Rarer than a geothermal generated gush, dissolved carbon dioxide and other underground gasses propel this cold water counterpoint. Created in 1935 when an oil exploration well was drilled, the geyser has since left a thick layer of orange travertine coating the ground as water flows to the river. Gas pressure causes the geyser to bubble with eruptions occurring on a bimodal cycle, eight or 22 hours after the last spew. Fewer than 10 cold water geysers exist in the world making this a must see.

Photo by Kirk Marshall

Who knew this small town held such unusual attractions? Green River is defiantly worth a visit. Three hours from Salt Lake City.

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