This research examines lateral separation zones and sand bar slope stability using two methods: a parallelized turbulence resolving model and full-scale laboratory experiments. Lateral flow separation occurs in rivers where banks exhibit strong curvature, for instance canyon rivers, sharp meanders and river confluences. In the Colorado River, downstream Glen Canyon Dam, lateral separation zones are the principal storage of sandbars. Maximum ramp rates have been imposed to Glen Canyon Dam operation to minimize mass loss of sandbars. Assessment of the effect of restricting maximum ramp rates in bar stability is conducted using multiple laboratory experiments. Results reveal that steep sandbar faces would rapidly erode by mass failure and seepage erosion to stable slopes, regardless of dam discharge ramp rates. Thus, continued erosion of sand bars depends primarily of turbulent flow and waves. A parallelized, three-dimensional, turbulence resolving model is developed to study flow structures in two lateral separation zones located along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. The model employs a Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) technique where variables larger than the grid scale are fully resolved, while Sub-Grid-Scale (SGS) variables are modeled. The DES-3D model is validated using ADCP flow measurements and skill metric scores show predictive capabilities of simulated flow. The model reproduces the patterns and magnitudes of flow velocity in lateral recirculation zones, including size and position of primary and secondary eddy cells and return current. Turbulence structures with a predominately vertical axis of vorticity are observed in the shear layer, becoming three-dimensional without preferred orientation downstream. The DES-3D model is coupled with a sediment advection-diffusion formulation, wherein advection is provided by the DES velocity field minus particles settling velocity, and diffusion is provided by the SGS. Results show a lateral recirculation zone having a continuous export and import of sediment from and to the main channel following a pattern of high frequency pulsations of positive deposition fluxes. These high frequency pulsations play an important role to prevent an oversupply of sediment within the lateral separation zones. Improved predictive capabilities are achieved with this model when compared with previous two- and three-dimensional quasi steady and steady models.