Stanislaus River Goodwin Canyon


Stretch: Goodwin Dam to Knight's Ferry
Difficulty: class IV- (3 class V rapids or portages)
Distance: 4 miles, 1 short day
Flows: rafts (700) 1000 - 3000 cfs, kayaks 500 - 3000
Gauge: measured downstream at Orange Blossom Bridge (OBB)
Gradient: 30 fpm average
Put-in: Tulloch Road shortly below Goodwin Dam, 280'
Take-out: bridge from highway 108 to Knight's Ferry, 160'
Shuttle: 6 miles (15 minutes) one-way
Maps: AAA Yosemite Region, Topo
Season: year round but best in autumn, from dam release
Agency: BLM, private
Notes: © 1998 Bill Tuthill, CreeksYahoo, thanks to Greg Schmidt

This is a run offered but never delivered as mitigation for the beautiful Camp-9 run flooded upstream. Goodwin Canyon offers several interesting class III and IV rapids, has good scenery somewhat marred by diversion canals along the canyon walls, and contains 3 difficult and dangerous rapids named after Disneyland rides.

The Cassady/Calhoun book describes the rapids and your mile-by-mile progress well enough. However that book fails to say that Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the first class V, has already claimed one life, a commercial guide who fell off the back of his raft and was lost in the rock jumble on river left. It took 45 minutes to recover his body. In this rapid, start right, stay right, and don't worry so much about an undercut wall on the bottom right, which is less dangerous than the rock jumble. Unfortunately the portage around the right side of this rapid is difficult, and on the left side, a cliff makes portaging virtually impossible.

Matterhorn, the second class V (class V+ at most flows), is a steep rocky falls with entrapment potential on the right side, and a large submerged rock (a Matterhorn?) in the middle left. Several rafters have died here, some wearing neither PFD nor helmet. At higher flows a very narrow but clean route exists, if you hit it correctly. The carry on the right is very easy, so most people choose to portage. Watch out though, the rocks are slippery. Rocks on the left provide better traction, so kayakers can portage on that side and execute a seal launch just downstream. Photo-op!

Below Matterhorn and above Pinball is a potentially hazardous cross-river willow tree formation not mentioned in guidebooks. The iron sluicebox (formerly in Pinball) mentioned in Cassady/Calhoun's 1st and 2nd editions has been removed, as their 3rd edition mentions.

Haunted House, the third class V, is extremely turbulent, with whirlpools where the water moves left around a bedrock plug. Scouting and photography are best from the left side, where there is a good portage trail, and a good spot to set safety. When planning on your route, err to the left, where water flushes faster. The turbulence has held a lost paddle for 5 days until water levels receded, and honeycombed bedrock underwater contains many entrapment points. Fortunately nobody has drowned there yet, but be careful. Below the main swirl, swimmers have been sucked down along an eddy line, sometimes losing even zip-up neoprene booties. Such turbulence is unexpected on relatively small volume rivers like this. Just below the rapid is a good ender spot for kayaks, washed out at flows above 1600 cfs.

Almost a mile below Haunted House is a class IV drop (called Air Mattress) that should be scouted, perhaps from the center island.


 Creeks Navigation

 Recommended Runs
 Map of Rivers
 Alphabetic Index
 Alphabetic Table
 Text Search

 Sponsored Links