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6 Whitewater Rafting Options in Utah

by Kristl 7. December 2020 07:23
If you are looking for a great whitewater rafting trip for your spring, summer or fall vacation, Utah has some really great options!  From family friendly trips with fun and splashy rapids to adrenaline pumping excitement, there is something for everyone.  Here is a list of really great options (in no particular order):

  1. 1. Fisher Towers on the Colorado River. This river stretch has fun and splashy rapids and big, sandy beaches.  This trip is great for beginning rafters or families with younger children.  The rapids are rated up to Class III, but are typically smaller Class I and II.  The whitewater is most exciting during the peak run-off window during the last two weeks of May and first two weeks of June.  Water temperatures vary throughout the season (March through October), but are warmest in July and August when the water is around 70 degrees.  This trip is great with paddleboats, oarboats, Inflatable Kayaks and Stand-Up Paddleboards.  Typical trips range from Half-Day trips, Full Day trips, 2 Day or 3 Day trips.
  2. 2. Desolation Canyon on the Green River.  This is another great family-friendly river trip that has fun and splashy rapids, beautiful sandy beaches and many historical sites.  This trip is another one that is great for beginners, but can be enjoyed by everyone!  The rapids in Desolation Canyon are rated up to Class III, and there are LOTS of them!  The whitewater on this trip is most exciting in June, but stays great throughout the rafting season (May through September).  Water temperatures vary a bit, but typically average around 70 degrees.  This trip is great with oarboats, Inflatable kayaks, Paddleboats and Stand-Up Paddleboards.  Desolation Canyon is typically run as a 4 or 5 day rafting trip, so it is a great way to get away from it all for a week!
  3. 3. Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River. This river trip is a bit more feisty with rapids up to Class IV.  It is still a good run for beginners, but due to the higher whitewater rating, is more appropriate for children 10 and older.   This trip offers beautiful scenery, a secluded adventure and exciting whitewater.  This trip tends to be LESS fun during the peak run-off (Last two weeks of May, First two weeks of June).  The canyon is very narrow, so when the water levels come up, the rapids get buried.  This trip is really great in March and April and from July through October.  The water temperatures average around 70 degrees, but are colder in March and April.  This trip is typically offered as a Full day trip, but is also great as a 2 or 3 day rafting trip.  Westwater Canyon is run with oarboats and paddleboats.
  4. 4. The Gates of Lodore on the Green River. This river trip through Dinosaur National Monument offers beautiful scenery, great hiking, exciting whitewater and pristine beaches.  The whitewater in the Gates of Lodore is rated up to Class IV.  Major John Wesley named this stretch of the Green River over 150 years ago, after they had many dis-heartening adventures in their exploration of this wild place.  The canyon has remained largely untouched, allowing for one to explore unknown places for themselves.  This stretch of river is at a slightly higher altitude, so the air and water temperatures are a bit more moderate, which is lovely in the hotter months of July and August.  This trip is typically offered as a 4 or 5 day journey.  This trip typically features oarboats, paddleboats and inflatable kayaks.  Stand-Up Paddleboards may also be an option.
  5. 5. The Yampa River.  This beautiful river also winds it's way through the heart of Dinosaur National Monument, but because it is undammed it runs out of water on low-snow years.  When it runs, though, it is a favorite among enthusiasts.  Splashy and exciting whitewater, pristine beaches, wonderful hikes and outstanding scenery all combine to make the journey the true destination.  This trip typically runs from mid-May through Mid- to Late- June.  Air temps can be chilly at night, and are moderate during the day.  Water temps average around 60 degrees.  The rapids on the Yampa River are rated up to Class IV, appropriate for ages 10 and older.  This trip is typically offered as a 4 or 5 day expedition.  The boats used on this trip include oarboats, paddleboats and inflatable kayaks.  Stand-UP Paddleboards may be an option.
  6. 6. Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River.  For the thrill-seeker and the canyon enthusiast.  Cataract Canyon is the premier whitewater trip in Utah.  The rapids in this canyon of the Colorado River are rated up to Class V, and with names like "Little Niagara" and "Satan's Gut", it lives up to the hype.  During the peak run-off (late May and early to mid-June) the river swells to around 10 times its "Normal" levels, leading to adrenaline-pumping excitement for guests and guides.  Later in the year the river tames down just enough to still be exciting without leaving a feeling of having tempted the fates.  Cataract Canyon is typically run as a multi-day rafting trip as it is 96 miles long.  Motorized trips are 2 to 4 days long, non-motorized trips are typically 5 to 7 days long.  The whitewater isn't the only awesome thing in Cataract Canyon.  There are many geological wonders and ancient historical sites along the way, too.  The boat choices in Cataract Canyon include Motorized J-Rigs, Oarboats and Paddleboats, Inflatable Kayaks and Stand-Up Paddleboards when water levels are appropriate.

BONUS!  Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River offers no whitewater, but is perfect for sea kayaking.  The tame waters of this canyon have slowly but persistantly worked their way down through the sandstone layers into a deep and beautiful labyrinth of canyon walls. The pace is perfect for a re-set of the soul.  This trip is typically run as a 4 or 5 day journey.  It is typically offered in the spring and fall only as sweltering temperatures and an abundance of blood-sucking vampire bugs are typical of warmer months (June-August).


Colorado River Rafting | Green River Rafting | Yampa River

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