Drawing attention to climate change and severe drought, Moseley completes first-ever swim of Green River in Canyonlands

July 6, 2021

With lowest flows in history, swims 40 miles in 14 hours and 36 minutes 

Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145          
July 6, 2021               

CANYONLANDS, UT,– On June 27, 2021, communication strategist, author, long distance swimmer, and co-chair of the Colorado River Basin Council for American Rivers, Matthew Moseley, 54, of Boulder, Colorado, did the first-ever recorded swim of the Green River in Canyonlands to raise awareness of climate change induced drought. Moseley swam 40 miles in 14 hours and 36 minutes in the lowest river flows ever recorded. (See Observers Log below) 

This stretch of the Green River, from Mineral Bottom to the confluence with the Colorado River, is the ancestral territory of the Ute and other native tribes. 

The Green River would normally be flowing at around 5,000-6,000 cfs (cubic feet per second), but was a mere 1,800 cfs during the swim. On many strokes Moseley scraped the bottom of the river and other times had to walk across sandbars and rocks because the water was too shallow, impossible to swim.  

“We applaud Matt Moseley for embracing this challenge and for his commitment to saving the rivers we all depend on,” said Matt Rice, Colorado River Basin Director for American Rivers. “While climate change is making the Colorado River Basin hotter and drier, we can protect healthy rivers and water supplies if we work together to manage these precious resources wisely. Native tribes throughout the basin, as well as forward-thinking cities, ranchers and others, are providing the leadership we need.” 

Following a predetermined safety plan, in the end, with darkness coming on, there simply wasn’t the flow, light or the time to keep swimming to the confluence with the Colorado River, another 12 miles away. Moseley exited the water at 7:32 pm after starting at first light at 4:54 am.   

“While the swim is a first, more importantly, our expedition was a vessel to tell the story of what is happening to water in the West,” said Moseley. “We are in a severe drought. Perhaps this is the new normal? Some say it is the “aridification” of the West. I saw firsthand what happens when the river starts dying. I know how the fish feels when it gets washed out.” 

The Colorado River’s Lake Powell reservoir is approaching dangerously low levels where Glen Canyon Dam will be unable to operate. This matters because over 40 million people depend upon the Colorado River Basin for their water and power. 

Moseley was joined for the swim by Matt Rice, Colorado Basin Director for American Rivers, Mark Williams as the lead support kayaker and Mike Fiebig of American Rivers, as the lead navigator in the canoe and the overall trip lead. The 16-person team was carried by five rafts and then ran the rapids of Cataract Canyon following the swim. 

The team included river legends Mike Dehoff and Meg Flynnwho started the Returning Rapids Project. They showed old features of the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon that are being revealed through the sediment as Lake Powell diminishes. They are matching old photographs from river runners with rapids that are coming back to life after the sediment washes away.  

The Green River Swim 2021 was made possible by support from Bobo’s Oat Bars, Epic Water Filters, Nite Ize, RovR Products, Phil Lewis Art, Liberty Puzzles, Mighty Arrow Foundation (New Belgium Brewing.) and Valle Rafts. Moseley was coached by Xterra World Champion, Josiah Middaugh. 



American Rivers believes a future of clean water and healthy rivers for everyone, everywhere is essential. Since 1973, we have protected wild rivers, restored damaged rivers and conserved clean water for people and nature. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 300,000 supporters, members and volunteers across the country, we are the most trusted and influential river conservation organization in the United States, delivering solutions for a better future. Because life needs rivers. www.AmericanRivers.org  


Matthew L. Moseley is a communication strategist, author, speaker and world record adventure swimmer. He is the author of “Ignition: Superior Communication Strategies for Creating Stronger Connections” by Routledge/Taylor&Francis publishing, 2021. He has spent his career at the intersection of public policy, business and government and has managed many public affairs projects and campaigns for organizations and companies. He is the principal and CEO of the Ignition Strategy Group, which specializes in high-stakes communications and issue management for the biggest companies in the world to the smallest organizations. He is the author of Dear Dr. Thompson: Felony Murder, Hunter S. Thompson and the Last Gonzo Campaign. He has completed five first-ever record adventure swims and is the subject of the documentary, Dancing in the Waterabout his 25 mile swim across Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. He is the co-chair of the Colorado River Basin Council for American Rivers and is member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Leadership at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife, water rights attorney, Kristin Moseley, and their children, Charles and Amelia. 

Green River Swim Observer’s Log 
Sunday, June 27, 2021 
Recorded by Mike Fiebig 
For World Open Water Swimming Association 

We pushed off from Mineral Bottom at 4:54 AM on July 27, 2021, at mile marker 52 on the Stillwater Canyon section of the Green River. Water temps went from approx. 71º to 76º F that day. Air temps were 65º to 95º F. The river was flowing at approximately 1800-2000 cfs. These stats can be found at the Green River (town) USGS gauge, 45 miles upstream of where we put in, which is why these are “approximate” temps and flows and not exact. There are a couple of irrigation diversions and small tributaries between the Green River gage and Mineral Bottom. The significant pulse of water that started showing up down at the Confluence on July 28 and 29 had not yet reached us on the swim day. One can see that the pulse of water brought the river up to approx. 5000 cfs. 

USGS gauge data for that date can be found at: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ut/nwis/uv?cb_00010=on&cb_00020=on&cb_00060=on&format=gif_default&site_no=09315000&period=&begin_date=2021-06-25&end_date=2021-07-01 

How the day unfolded from my journal: 

  1. 4:54 AM –  Matt started swimming before first light, accompanied by a 14’ Wilderness Systems Kayak with 1 person and a 14’ Mad River Canoe with 2 people 
  2. 5:28 – 1/3 Bobo bar, water 
  3. 5:55 – waffle, Clif block, electrolytes 
  4. 6:27 – waffle, block, electrolytes, Vasoline for chaffing 
  5. 6:56 – waffle, water 
  6. 7:30 – Perpetuem, fig newton 
  7. 8:30 – Perpetuem, fig newton, block 
  8. 8:33 – fig newton, electrolytes 
  9. 9:10 – Honey Stinger, water 
  10. 9:44 – beef jerky, Gatorade 
  11. 10:17 – Bobo bar, block, water 
  12. 10:54 – perpetuem, block 
  13. 11:06 AM-11:26 AM – Walked across rock/sand bar, warmed up, turkey jerky, water, other food/drink 
  14. 12:00 – stinger, water 
  15. 12:30 – electrolyte, block, jerky, water 
  16. 1:04 – block, fig newton, perpetuem 
  17. 1:45 PM-2:00 PM – Walked across rock/sand bar, warmed up, chicken and veggies, turkey jerky, water 
  18. 2:35 – water, block 
  19. 3:06 – fig newton, water 
  20. 3:42 – water, waffle 
  21. 4:12 – Perpetuem, waffle 
  22. 4:47 – Clif, Gatorade 
  23. 5:20 – stinger, water 
  24. 6:00 – jerky, water 
  25. 6:53 – waffle, block, water 
  26. 7:30 PM-7:40 PM – Exited the river at mile marker 12.3 to discuss stopping. Decided to stop swimming due to low water, darkness and fatigue: 39.6 miles, 14 hours and 32 minutes 
  27. Paddled the remaining 12 miles to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers, arriving at 11:16 PM