In the summer of 1867, with a small party of naturalists, students, and amateurs like myself, I visited the mountain region of Colorado Territory. While in Middle Park I explored a little canyon through which the Grand River runs, immediately below the now well-known watering place, Middle Park Hot Springs. Later in the fall I passed through Cedar Canyon, the gorge by which the Grand leaves the park. A result of the summer's study was to kindle a desire to explore the canyons of the Grand, Green, and Colorado rivers, and the next summer I organized an expedition with the intention of penetrating still farther into that canyon country.

As soon as the snows were melted, so that the main range could be crossed, I went over into Middle Park, and proceeded thence down the Grand to the head of Cedar Canyon, then across the Park Range by Gore's Pass, and in October found myself and party encamped on the White River, about 120 miles above its mouth. At that point I built cabins and established winter quarters, intending to occupy the cold season, as far as possible, in exploring the adjacent country. The winter of 1868-69 proved favorable to my purposes, and several excursions were made, southward to the Grand, down the White to the Green, northward to the Yampa, and around the Uinta Mountains. During these several excursions I seized every opportunity to study the canyons through which these upper streams run, and while thus engaged formed plans for the exploration of the canyons of the Colorado. Since that time I have been engaged in executing these plans, sometimes employed in the field, sometimes in the office. Begun originally as an exploration, the work was finally developed into a survey, embracing the geography, geology, ethnography, and natural history of the country, and a number of gentlemen have, from time to time, assisted me in the work.

Early in the spring of 1869 a party was organized for the exploration of the canyons. Boats were built in Chicago and transported by rail to the point where the Union Pacific Railroad crosses the Green River. With these we were to descend the Green to the Colorado, and the Colorado down to the foot of the Grand Canyon.

May 24, 1869. - The good people of Green River City turn out to see us start. We raise our little flag, push the boats from shore, and the swift current carries us down.

Our boats are four in number. Three are built of oak; stanch and firm; double-ribbed, with double stem and stern posts, and further strengthened by bulkheads, dividing each into three compartments. Two of these, the fore and aft, are decked, forming water-tight cabins. It is expected these will buoy the boats should the waves roll over them in rough water. The fourth boat is made of pine, very light, but 16 feet in length, with a sharp cutwater, and every way built for fast rowing, and divided into compartments as the others. The little vessels are 21 feet long, and, taking out the cargoes, can be carried by four men.

We take with us rations deemed sufficient to last ten months, for we expect, when winter comes on and the river is filled with ice, to lie over at some point until spring arrives; and so we take with us abundant supplies of clothing, likewise. We have also a large quantity of ammunition and two or three dozen traps. For the purpose of building cabins, repairing boats, and meeting other exigencies, we are supplied with axes, hammers, saws, augers, and other tools, and a quantity of nails and screws. For scientific work, we have two sextants, four chronometers, a number of barometers, thermometers, compasses, and other instruments.

The flour is divided into three equal parts; the meat, and all other articles of our rations, in the same way. Each of the larger boats has an axe, hammer, saw, auger, and other tools, so that all are loaded alike. We distribute the cargoes in this way that we may not be entirely destitute of some important article should any one of the boats be lost. In the small boat we pack a part of the scientific instruments, three guns, and three small bundles of clothing, only; and in this I proceed in advance to explore the channel.

J. C. Sumner and William H. Dunn are my boatmen in the "Emma Dean"; then follows "Kitty Clyde's Sister," manned by W. H. Powell and G. Y. Bradley; next, the "No Name," with O. G. Howland, Seneca Howland, and Frank Goodman; and last comes the "Maid of the Canyon," with W. E. Hawkins and Andrew Hall.

Sumner was a soldier during the late war, and before and since that time has been a great traveler in the wilds of the Mississippi Valley and the Rocky Mountains as an amateur hunter. He is a fair-haired, delicate-looking man, but a veteran in experience, and has performed the feat of crossing the Rocky Mountains in midwinter on snowshoes. He spent the winter of 1886-87 in Middle Park, Colorado, for the purpose of making some natural history collections for me, and succeeded in killing three grizzlies, two mountain lions, and a large number of elk, deer, sheep, wolves, beavers, and many other animals. When Bayard Taylor traveled through the parks of Colorado, Sumner was his guide, and he speaks in glowing terms of Mr. Taylor's genial qualities in camp, but he was mortally offended when the great traveler requested him to act as doorkeeper at Breckenridge to receive the admission fee from those who attended his lectures.

Dunn was a hunter, trapper, and mule-packer in Colorado for many years. He dresses in buckskin with a dark oleaginous luster, doubtless due to the fact that he has lived on fat venison and killed many beavers since he first donned his uniform years ago. His raven hair falls down to his back, for he has a sublime contempt of shears and razors.

Captain Powell was an officer of artillery during the late war and was captured on the 22d day of July, 1864, at Atlanta and served a ten months' term in prison at Charleston, where he was placed with other officers under fire. He is silent, moody, and sarcastic, though sometimes he enlivens the camp at night with a song. He is never surprised at anything, his coolness never deserts him, and he would choke the belching throat of a volcano if he thought the spitfire meant anything but fun. We call him "Old Shady."

Bradley, a lieutenant during the late war, and since orderly sergeant in the regular army, was, a few weeks previous to our start, discharged, by order of the Secretary of War, that he might go on this trip. He is scrupulously careful, and a little mishap works him into a passion, but when labor is needed he has a ready hand and powerful arm, and in danger, rapid judgment and unerring skill. A great difficulty or peril changes the petulant spirit into a brave, generous soul.

O. G. Howland is a printer by trade, an editor by profession, and a hunter by choice. When busily employed he usually puts his hat in his pocket, and his thin hair and long beard stream in the wind, giving him a wild look, much like that of King Lear in an illustrated copy of Shakespeare which tumbles around the camp.

Seneca Howland is a quiet, pensive young man, and a great favorite with all.

Goodman is a stranger to us - a stout, willing Englishman, with florid face and more florid anticipations of a glorious trip.

Billy Hawkins, the cook, was a soldier in the Union Army during the war, and when discharged at its close went West, and since then has been engaged as teamster on the plains or hunter in the mountains. He is an athlete and a jovial good fellow, who hardly seems to know his own strength.

Hall is a Scotch boy, nineteen years old, with what seems to us a "secondhand head," which doubtless came down to him from some knight who wore it during the Border Wars. It looks a very old head indeed, with deep-set blue eyes and beaked nose. Young as he is, Hall has had experience in hunting, trapping, and fighting Indians, and he makes the most of it, for he can tell a good story, and is never encumbered by unnecessary scruples in giving to his narratives those embellishments which help to make a story complete. He is always ready for work or play and is a good hand at either.

Our boats are heavily loaded, and only with the utmost care is it possible to float in the rough river without shipping water. A mile or two below town we run on a sandbar. The men jump into the stream and thus lighten the vessels, so that they drift over, and on we go.

In trying to avoid a rock an oar is broken on one of the boats, and, thus crippled, she strikes. The current is swift and she is sent reeling and rocking into the eddy. In the confusion two other oars are lost overboard, and the men seem quite discomfited, much to the amusement of the other members of the party. Catching the oars and starting again, the boats are once more borne down the stream, until we land at a small cottonwood grove on the bank and camp for noon.

During the afternoon we run down to a point where the river sweeps the foot of an overhanging cliff, and here we camp for the night. The sun is yet two hours high, so I climb the cliffs and walk back among the strangely carved rocks of the Green River bad lands. These are sandstones and shales, gray and buff, red and brown, blue and black strata in many alternations, lying nearly horizontal, and almost without soil and vegetation. They are very friable, and the rain and streams have carved them into quaint shapes. Barren desolation is stretched before me; and yet there is a beauty in the scene. The fantastic carvings, imitating architectural forms and suggesting rude but weird statuary, with the bright and varied colors of the rocks, conspire to make a scene such as the dweller in verdure-clad hills can scarcely appreciate.

Standing on a high point, I can look off in every direction over a vast landscape, with salient rocks and cliffs glittering in the evening sun. Dark shadows are settling in the valleys and gulches, and the heights are made higher and the depths deeper by the glamour and witchery of light and shade. Away to the south the Uinta Mountains stretch in a long line, - high peaks thrust into the sky, and snow fields glittering like lakes of molten silver, and pine forests in somber green, and rosy clouds playing around the borders of huge, black masses; and heights and clouds and mountains and snow fields and forests and rock-lands are blended into one grand view. Now the sun goes down, and I return to camp.

May 25. - We start early this morning and run along at a good rate until about nine o'clock, when we are brought up on a gravelly bar. All jump out and help the boats over by main strength. Then a rain comes on, and river and clouds conspire to give us a thorough drenching. Wet, chilled, and tired to exhaustion, we stop at a cottonwood grove on the bank, build a huge fire, make a cup of coffee, and are soon refreshed and quite merry. When the clouds "get out of our sunshine" we start again. A few miles farther down a flock of mountain sheep are seen on a cliff to the right. The boats are quietly tied up and three or four men go after them. In the course of two or three hours they return. The cook has been successful in bringing down a fat lamb. The unsuccessful hunters taunt him with finding it dead; but it is soon dressed, cooked, and eaten, and makes a fine four o'clock dinner.

"All aboard," and down the river for another dozen miles. On the way we pass the mouth of Black's Fork, a dirty little stream that seems somewhat swollen. Just below its mouth we land and camp.

May 26. - To-day we pass several curiously shaped buttes, standing between the west bank of the river and the high bluffs beyond. These buttes are outliers of the same beds of rocks as are exposed on the faces of the bluffs, - thinly laminated shales and sandstones of many colors, standing above in vertical cliffs and buttressed below with a water-carved talus; some of them attain an altitude of nearly a thousand feet above the level of the river.

We glide quietly down the placid stream past the carved cliffs of the mauvaises terres, now and then obtaining glimpses of distant mountains. Occasionally, deer are started from the glades among the willows; and several wild geese, after a chase through the water, are shot. After dinner we pass through a short and narrow canyon into a broad valley; from this, long, lateral valleys stretch back on either side as far as the eye can reach.

Two or three miles below, Henry's Fork enters from the right. We land a short distance above the junction, where a cache of instruments and rations was made several months ago in a cave at the foot of the cliff, a distance back from the river. Here they were safe from the elements and wild beasts, but not from man. Some anxiety is felt, as we have learned that a party of Indians have been camped near the place for several weeks. Our fears are soon allayed, for we find the cache undisturbed. Our chronometer wheels have not been taken for hair ornaments, our barometer tubes for beads, or the sextant thrown into the river as "bad medicine," as had been predicted. Taking up our cache, we pass down to the foot of the Uinta Mountains and in a cold storm go into camp.

The river is running to the south; the mountains have an easterly and westerly trend directly athwart its course, yet it glides on in a quiet way as if it thought a mountain range no formidable obstruction. It enters the range by a flaring, brilliant red gorge, that may be seen from the north a score of miles away. The great mass of the mountain ridge through which the gorge is cut is composed of bright vermilion rocks; but they are surmounted by broad bands of mottled buff and gray, and these bands come down with a gentle curve to the water's edge on the nearer slope of the mountain.

This is the head of the first of the canyons we are about to explore - an introductory one to a series made by the river through this range. We name it Flaming Gorge. The cliffs, or walls, we find on measurement to be about 1,200 feet high.

May 27. - To-day it rains, and we employ the time in repairing one of our barometers, which was broken on the way from New York. A new tube has to be put in; that is, a long glass tube has to be filled with mercury, four or five inches at a time, and each installment boiled over a spirit lamp. It is a delicate task to do this without breaking the glass; but we have success, and are ready to measure mountains once more.

May 28. - To-day we go to the summit of the cliff on the left and take observations for altitude, and are variously employed in topographic and geologic work.

May 29. - This morning Bradley and I cross the river and climb more than a thousand feet to a point where we can see the stream sweeping in a long, beautiful curve through the gorge below. Turning and looking to the west, we can see the valley of Henry's Fork, through which, for many miles, the little river flows in a tortuous channel. Cottonwood groves are planted here and there along its course, and between them are stretches of grass land. The narrow mountain valley is inclosed on either side by sloping walls of naked rock of many bright colors. To the south of the valley are the Uintas, and the peaks of the Wasatch Mountains can be faintly seen in the far west. To the north, desert plains, dotted here and there with curiously carved hills and buttes, extend to the limit of vision.

For many years this valley has been the home of a number of mountaineers, who were originally hunters and trappers, living with the Indians. Most of them have one or more Indian wives. They no longer roam with the nomadic tribes in pursuit of buckskin or beaver, but have accumulated herds of cattle and horses, and consider themselves quite well to do. Some of them have built cabins; others still live in lodges. John Baker is one of the most famous of these men, and from our point of view we can see his lodge, three or four miles up the river.

The distance from Green River City to Flaming Gorge is 62 miles. The river runs between bluffs, in some places standing so close to each other that no flood plain is seen. At such a point the river might properly be said to run through a canyon. The bad lands on either side are interrupted here and there by patches of Artemisia, or sage brush. Where there is a flood plain along either side of the river, a few cottonwoods may be seen.