- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
- Getting Here
Colorado River rafting doesn’t get much better than this! Our Westwater Canyon whitewater rafting trip takes us down a segment of the Colorado River that is magnificent and is often referred to as a miniature Grand Canyon. The beauty and grandeur of this section of the Colorado River offers memorable sights such as pristine beaches, charming side canyons, and beautiful campsites.
Westwater Canyon is a great rafting trip for those who want the beauty and thrills of a traditional Colorado River rafting vacation, and yet only have a few days available for their river rafting tour. Westwater: the ultimate two or three-day getaway. Colorado River Rafting trips in Westwater Canyon begin in May and run through September.
WESTWATER CANYON RAFTING HIGHLIGHTS
- Great introduction to river rafting trips
- Excellent choice if you are short on time
- Exciting class III & IV whitewater rapids
- Stunning wilderness canyon with unique rock formations
Submit your review
Just finished a 3-day rafting trip through Westwater Canyon. The entire trip was excellent. Overall Holiday is amazing. They provided everything we needed. Trip was planned perfectly. Overall great company and can tell they are passionate about what they do.My Husband and I consider ourselves inexperienced when it comes to river rafting, I have been on a few trips many many years ago, and my husband had never been. This was an excellent introductory rafting trip. The first two days consisted of relatively flat (but moving) water where we enjoyed stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, and just lounging on the boat. The third (and last) day ended with an exhilarating white water rafting ride through class III and IV rapids.Our guides, Tburd (Tim) and Dustin, were amazing. They were laid back, great cooks, humorous, and extremely knowledgeable of the land. I never felt unsafe. They truly are experienced with the river and the details of each of the rapids. We went down the rapids on what they called a “double rig.” Basically two large rafts strapped together side by side. This allowed for better stability when going down the rapids. Hind sight, very glad they made the decision to do that. Man were those rapids insane!The camping is extremely primitive. There is no running water and no flushing toilet. We rented camp kits (consisting of tent, sleeping bag, rain gear (didn’t rain thank god), small camp pillow, sleeping pad, and cups). The equipment is in great condition and would definitely recommend if you don’t feel like lugging your own gear while traveling.The food is top notch. Our menu consisted of steak and salmon, mashed potatoes, huge salad; fajitas, Spanish rice, beans; made-to-order omelets, cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit with every meal. You get the point. We definitely did not go hungry.Unfortunately, we went right when there was a huge hatch of mosquitos. So remember to bring bug spray. And bring a TON of sunscreen!Would definitely recommend and would definitely use Holiday for another trip!
Our Westwater trip far exceeded our expectations. Ours was a small group, which allowed us to bond quickly and easily. We couldn't have asked for better weather, a better group of people or better food. We got to see many amazing animals, take several great hikes and learn so much about the area from our fantastic guides. Rocky, Sam, Jess and Erika were so knowledgeable on everything from the history to the geology, and they were great cooks to boot. I felt safe at all times and I would recommend this trip to anyone looking for an adventure, whether it's with a group of friends, co-workers or as a family. A Holiday River trip will not disappoint!
When throwing money down for a guided expedition I was a little reluctant. As a backcountry professional, I do things on my own! Our Westwater Canyon trip blew my mind, as well as the performance from our guides.
Jesse, Erica, Chet and on the final day Max were terrific hosts and guides. Not only were they incredibly knowledgeable about the river's ecosystem but they were at complete ease in chatting about a broad range of topics. Those are the interesting sorts of folks that make a trip an experience to remember for the place and the people.
The entire experience was amazing and the guides were perfect! They took the time to make sure everyone knew what was going on and that everyone was having fun and being safe too! The food was better than I eat at home and everyone agreed it was the best food they had had on a camping / hiking trip. The guides’ personalities were awesome and they took the time to point out things to make the trip even better than standard and really made the trip memorable! I couldn't have asked for a better trip.
I didn't see it posted anywhere but I'm pretty sure it's a requirement to be really, really good looking in order to work for Holiday. Seriously, everyone from our shuttle driver to our guides: Jesse, Erika and Chet with Max joining us with an additional eight guests on the second day.We were in Jesse's boat for the entire trip and he was amazing. Incredibly knowledgeable about the river, its history, and the wildlife and kept us entertained with random stories. He was the consummate professional while keeping it fun. There were some ridiculously silly comments and questions made during the float and while I wanted to punch myself in the ears in an effort to block out the inanity, Jesse responded to each without an ounce of condescension.And the food? Holy hell. It was better than I eat at home, tragically. Omelets, chipotle style burritos, grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, and steak filet. I just drooled a little on my keyboard. Also, if you're on that self-deprivation wagon known as gluten free, there are yummy looking options for that as well.The one and only negative I can think of is the fact that you will have to pee in a bucket for 3 days. But unless you're expecting Holiday to provide waterproof catheters, I'd say peeing outside is pretty basic when it comes to camping.Overall, I absolutely loved the entire trip and felt overwhelmingly fortunate to get to have such an amazing experience with such a fantastic group of people. THANK YOU!!!!!!
This trip was quite a surprise. It was a Birthday trip planned by my Fiancé (bless his heart). I had never gone camping or whitewater rafting so I didn't know what to expect. It could have gone bad but as a city girl I have learned to keep my mind positive. That being said, my experience with Holiday River Expeditions was the BEST I have had in my 27 years! NEVER have I felt so in tune with nature! The guides and the outdoor experience were so memorable that describing it doesn't give it justice. You have to be there to understand the magic it held! BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! I can't talk enough about how friendly and knowledgeable the staff was. How they made sure you got the BEST out of your trip. I already miss the colors of the canyons, the sound of the river and the laughter and humor of the group of strangers I had the pleasure of meeting. Would I recommend HRE? I already have! They have left me addicted to new adventures in the West! I'll be back for a second experience, third and maybe fourth.
An excellent 3-day Westwater Canyon trip gave our family the whitewater rafting experience we were looking for with guides committed to us all having a good time.
Best crew ever. The cooking was exceptional. Karen, in the office, was also unbelievably helpful. My gear stayed dry and all materials worked as they should. Everything was perfect. This was the best trip ever, no joke. The crew went above and beyond expectations. I can honestly say this experience made my decade. Thank you guys so much. We WILL be back soon.
Erica, Jesse and Chet were great guides, great hosts and great cooks. I appreciated their knowledge of the local environment and particularly Jesse's hiking hints. My group had a great time.
COLORADO RIVER, 2 OR 3 DAYS
One of the advantages of a river trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. It can vary widely from one trip to the next based on group desires, Mother Nature, and courtesy for other groups on the river. The typical itineraries below illustrate a 3-day and a 2-day trip through Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River.
SAMPLE 3-DAY ITINERARY
Day 1: Meet at headquarters, in Green River, Utah before two-hour ride to the put-in at Loma. Float leisurely through the desert scenery of Ruby Canyon. For those interested, inflatable kayaks provide the opportunity to experience the river on a solo basis. A side hike up Rattlesnake Canyon reveals a variety of desert plants and wildlife. Camp at Black Rocks where thousand year old black schist provides the background setting.
Day 2: Peaceful floating and more time in the inflatable kayaks before reaching Westwater Ranger Station. The river enters the narrow canyons that give Westwater the nickname, “the Little Grand”. Small rapids begin to materialize along the otherwise peaceful stretches of the Colorado. Camp at one of the many beaches within Westwater Canyon.
Day 3: Gear up for rapids–one right after another–Hunter’s, Funnel Falls, Surprise and . . . THE BIG ONE: Skull Rapid. Observe bald eagle, great blue heron and snowy egret habitats in the meandering flat-water bellow. Enjoy a short trip back to Green River.
SAMPLE 2-DAY ITINERARY
Day 1: Pack bags at river headquarters in Green River, Utah before ride to Westwater Ranger Station. Relaxing float to Little Hole Canyon’s natural amphitheater where shards of Indian pottery can be seen. In favorable conditions a short hike up Little Dolores Canyon reveals a beautiful desert waterfall and swimming hole. Camp near Little Dolores.
Day 2: Leisurely breakfast before rapids of Westwater. Rapids, one right after another, Marble, Staircase, Hunter’s, Funnel Falls, and Surprise . . . leads to Skull Rapid, one of the Colorado’s fiercest drops. Finish with Bowling Alley, Sock-it-to-me and Last Chance. Vans will return you to our headquarters in Green River at the end of the trip.
As mentioned earlier, this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the trip you will experience. It is intended to give an idea of what the trip will be like. It could also be exactly what you do. Keep an open mind, be flexible, go with the flow, and enjoy!
We meet for your trip in Green River, Utah at Holiday River Expeditions headquarters (see Google map), 8:00 a.m. (Mountain Time) the morning your trip begins. Our headquarters is located 1/4 mile east of the Green River Bridge, across the highway from the Motel 6 and behind the Comfort Inn. If you arrive in Green River by shuttle, bus, Amtrak, or plane, call our headquarters (435-564-3273) upon your arrival to make arrangements to have you and your gear transported to our headquarters the morning of the trip. If you are driving, your car can be left at our headquarters.
Beginning of the trip: Upon your arrival at our headquarters (8:00 a.m., Mountain Time), we will issue your waterproof bags. You can buy any last minute items from our accessory’s store at this time (see our packing check list for a list of items you can find at our store). We will then take a 90-minute van ride to the embarkation point, where we will transfer to the boats.
After the trip: We will return you to Green River (90 minute van ride). Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Medical emergencies: Our guides are trained in first aid and carry first aid supplies only. REMEMBER to bring your own prescription medicines. ALERT our guides to any medical problem you might have such as diabetes or allergic reactions. Wilderness expeditions are a long way from hospitals, doctors, and pain-relieving medicines. Evacuations to modern medical care are uncertain, and protracted. In case of evacuation and/or medical treatment beyond first aid, expenses incurred are the responsibility of the participant.
Cancellation Policy: If cancellations are made prior to 90 days before the trip, monies will be refunded less a $50.00 service charge per person. If cancellations are made within 90 days and outside of 45 days of the trip date monies will be refunded less a $100.00 service charge per person. Cancellations made within 45 days of the trip date are non refundable. Prior to 45 days to the trip date we will transfer reservations to another trip in the same year with a $25.00 service charge per person. All policies will be enforced and we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance. Cancellation of a trip is very unlikely, but we reserve the right to cancel any trip due to river or weather conditions or the lack of sufficient reservations. A full refund will be made if such is the case.
Insurance: Medical Evacuation and cancellation insurance on a vacation plan can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. You should be aware that medical evacuations in the backcountry can easily cost $10,000 and up. You are responsible for these potential expenses and we strongly encourage all guests to have this coverage. We offer plans by TRAVEL GUARD that cover evacuation, baggage and cancellation claims. It is available to American and Canadian citizens, as well as citizens of another country as long as you have a U.S. address. For a quote or questions give us a call or include Your Names, Birth Dates in an Email and we will send a quote. Also, if you are bringing expensive cameras, binoculars, or other items we suggest you have insurance coverage for them (commonly available through Homeowners Policies). In the event of a loss, our insurance will not cover those items.
Tipping the guides: If you feel the guides have been instrumental in your enjoyment of the trip, you may choose to direct a gratuity to the trip leader in the form of cash or check. He/She will then distribute it evenly to the other crewmembers. The average contribution amount ranges between $15.00 and $25.00 per guest, per day.
Beverages: We provide ice water, lemonade, one soda per day/person and ample cooler space. If you choose to bring any specialty sodas and/or alcoholic beverages, we have no problem taking whatever you want to bring – within reason. Don’t bring beer, wine coolers or sodas in glass containers. Wine packaged in a box is ideal. Mark beverages that you bring so they are packed on your boat. The liquor store in Green River, Utah is located in the back of the West Winds restaurant. In Utah, wine or liquor is not sold after 7:00 p.m., before 11:00 a.m., or on Sundays and holidays.
If you have any questions prior to leaving for your trip, we welcome you to call our Salt Lake City office, Monday through Friday at 800-624-6323 (outside Utah) or 801-266-2087 (inside Utah). We’re happy to take the time to answer your questions. You may also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE EVENT OF EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TRIP, OUR GREEN RIVER HEADQUARTERS NUMBER IS 435-564-3273
Westwater weather: In the early and late seasons (May to mid‑June and late August to September) the daytime temperatures are 70 to 90 degrees, with nighttime temperatures 50 to 60 degrees. It seldom rains in Westwater Canyon, but when it does, it can cool temperatures considerably in May and September. From mid‑June to mid-August the days are hot and temperatures average 80 to 100 degrees during the day and 60 to 75 degrees at night. This is the time of year that swimming in the Colorado becomes a popular activity. This seems hot but remember the humidity is very low. There will be an abundance of sun, so bring a hat and plenty of suntan lotion and/or sunscreens. *Please avoid spray on sun-screen for the health and safety of your guide and fellow-guests.
Bugs, snakes, etc. are generally no problem. In fact, the lack of pesky insects is one of the reasons wilderness camping on the river is so pleasant. Any river trip, however, is subject to an occasional localized insect hatch. During these hatches (most common in June to mid-July) mosquitoes can be bothersome. Be sure to bring long sleeve clothing and repellent. Insect repellents that contain “deet” are by far the most effective during heavy hatches. Citronella-based products work only in light hatches. We rarely see any snakes, but if the thought of them bothers you, try sleeping on the beaches or in a tent instead of rocky or bushy areas.
Hiking is a highlight of the trip, however, it is strictly an optional activity. There are many interesting short hikes available. Hiking can be done in durable sneakers or lightweight hiking boots. Remember that hiking and other activities vary widely pending time, and what other plans are ahead for the day on the river.
The best place to eat in Green River is Ray’s Tavern. Ray’s is a true small western town bar rich in atmosphere and good food. They serve incredible hamburgers, pork chops, small salads and steaks. The Tamarisk Restaurant offers family dining with riverside seating.
Things to see in the area: John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River, Utah. Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Fisher Towers, Colorado National Monument, Goblin Valley State Park, San Rafael Swell, Capital Reef National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, and the La Sal and Henry Mountains.
Reading material, you may enjoy:
Canyonlands River Guide Belknap (waterproof)………………………………… $19.95
Canyonlands Country Donald L. Baars……………………………………………. $15.95
Life in Stone Christa Sadler……………………………………………………………. $11.95
The Educated Outlaw Harvey Lay Murdock (Grandson)…………………….. $10.95
These books can be ordered on line at www.bikeraft.com, or by sending the appropriate amount listed above plus $5.60 priority shipping to Holiday River Expeditions, 544 East 3900 South, SLC, UT 84107. This is available within the U.S. only. If outside the U.S. additional shipping and handling charges will be added. You can call 801-266-2087 for rates. These books can also be purchased at our headquarters in Green River.
If you are flying, you can fly to Salt Lake City located 180 miles northwest of Green River, Utah. From there you can rent a car or take a shuttle with Moab Luxury Coach (call 435-940-4212 or www.moabluxurycoach.com) to Green River. If you need assistance with your travel arrangements, please ask your Holiday River Expedition reservation agent.
Lodging before and after your trip can be booked at one of six locations:
River Terrace Inn 435‑564‑3401 (locally owned, pool, hot tub, full breakfast, riverside rooms available) *10% discount
Comfort Inn 435‑564‑3300 (inside pool, hot tub, continental breakfast – in front of our headquarters) *10% discount
Holiday Inn Express 435-564-4439 (inside pool, hot tub, continental breakfast – west of our headquarters)
Super 8 435-564-8888 (inside pool, hot tub, refrigerator, microwave)
Motel 6 435‑564‑3436 (pool, kids free, lower rates)
Sleepy Hollow 435-564-8189 (clean with lower rates)
*When making advance reservations at the River Terrace Inn or Comfort Inn, mention that you are on a Holiday River Expedition trip and you will be extended a discounted rate on your room (see above). You will need a trip invoice at check-in.
BE SURE TO MAKE ADVANCE RESERVATIONS!
If you are camping out, there are two campgrounds in Green River: the Green River State Park (no pool, lower rates and may have mosquitoes – call 435-564-3633 to make reservations), and the KOA Campground (435-564-8195 – across from our headquarters).
Holiday River Expedition's Travel Agents - Mateja Harrington & Cindy Swenson with Cruise and Travel Masters are happy to assist you with your travel plans. Contact Mateja or Cindy to take the work out of "Getting Here".
Toll Free - 800-264-0557 (You must ask for Mateja Harrington or Cindy Swenson)
Email Attention Mateja or Cindy: email@example.com
Or, do it yourself, we can help…
Colorado and Utah Rivers
Gateway - Salt Lake City, Utah OR Denver, Colorado
Air Service to Salt Lake City (SLC) or Denver (DEN)
- America West Airlines 800-235-9292
- American Airlines 800-433-7300
- Continental Airlines 800-525-0280
- Delta Air Lines 800-221-1212
- Frontier Airlines 800-432-1359
- JetBlue Airways 800-538-2583
- Northwest Airlines 800-225-2525
- SkyWest Airlines 800-453-9417
- Southwest Airlines 800-435-9792
- United Airlines 800-241-6522
- United Express 800-241-6522
- US Airways 800-435-9792
TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS FROM SALT LAKE CITY to Green River, Vernal or Blanding, Utah
Once in Salt Lake City most of our guests rent-a-car and drive to our meeting points.
All rental cars are located in both terminals of the Salt Lake City Airport.
- Alamo Rental Car 801-575-2211
- Budget Rental Car 801-575-2821
- Dollar Rent a Car 801-575-2580
- Thrifty Rental Car 801-265-6677
- Salt Lake City to Green River 180 miles
- Salt Lake City to Blanding 300 miles
- Salt Lake City to Vernal 180 miles
Shuttle Service to Green River or Blanding, Utah from Salt Lake City or Moab (Vernal is on a Charter basis only)
Rafting Gear & Clothing Checklist
PROVIDED BY HOLIDAY RIVER EXPEDITIONS
- LIFE JACKET
- LARGE WATERPROOF BAG
- DAY BAG
- CAMP CHAIR
- EATING UTENSILS AND PLATES
- FULL COURSE MEALS lunch the first day through lunch the last day
- DRINKS ice water, lemonade, juices, 1 pop/person/day-mix of reg. & diet
The day bag 8" diameter x 20" high is for items you will need access to during the day. For your sleeping gear and clothing, we will furnish you with one bag 16" diameter x 2 feet high. When properly sealed, bags are usually waterproof. Once in a while, one could develop a problem; so if you have concerns, test your bags. Separate storage is provided for tents and beverages. Please remember to keep your gear light and compact. The less you bring, the happier you will be. Please limit gear to no more than 15-20 lbs.
GEAR YOU MUST BRING OR RENT FROM HOLIDAY
- CUP plastic mugs work well
- WATER BOTTLE (not included in the rental kit)
- SLEEPING BAG compact and warm
- PONCHO/RAIN SUIT high quality important for Dinosaur & Desolation trips.
- SLEEPING PAD/AIR MATTRESS Compact, must fit in the bag described above.
- LIGHT TENT Back packer style, not the bulky, heavy types.
You can rent most of the items listed above in our sleeping rental kit. We offer two varieties, our basic sleeping kit which includes a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, rain gear and cup for $40.00, or the same basic sleeping kit with a two-man tent for $65.00. Rentals must be reserved in advance, especially on the San Juan trips where we meet away from our headquarters. Rentals requested the morning of the trip are subject to availability. Cups and water bottles available for purchase at our stores in Green River and Vernal Headquarters, or online.
RECOMMENDED CLOTHING & GEAR
- SWIMMING SUITS
- SHORTS quick drying
- LONG PANTS quick drying
- HAT for sun protection, with strap
- SUN GLASSES with safety strap
- SUN SCREEN SPF 15 or higher
- CHAPSTICK with sun screen
- HAND LOTION non-fragrant,small plastic bottle
- COMB or BRUSH
- TRAVEL TOWEL dries quick
- KLEENEX small travel pack
- CAMERA (at your own risk), extra memory cards (or film), batteries, and waterproof container
- BINOCULARS (optional, at your own risk)
- SARONG (optional)
- SHIRT (S) short-sleeved, cotton, i.e. T-shirts
- SHIRT (S) long-sleeved, quick dry for sun protection
- SHOES keep dry for camp/hiking, i.e. durable sneakers or lightweight hiking boots
- SHOES to get wet while rafting, i.e. water sport shoes or sneakers
- SOCKS several pair, 1 cotton, 2 polypropylene or wool
- JACKET fleece or pile with wind/rain resistant shell
- LONG UNDERWEAR (optional) med. weight polypropylene/synthetic type
- BIODEGRADABLE SOAP available at outdoor specialty stores, or ivory soap
- INSECT REPELLENT Deet concentrate in a small bottles works best
- TAMPONS/ZIPLOCK BAGS 1 bag per day
- MEDICATION Aspirin/IBU Profen/Tylenol and personal prescriptions
- FLASHLIGHT or HEADLAMP small with extra batteries
- STUFF SACK to keep wet/dry clothes separated, i.e. pillow case or plastic bag
- HYDRATION PACK /FANNY PACK for hiking
- FISHING GEAR (optional) compact and well protected, i.e. rods in a case
- EXTRA BEVERAGES (optional) NO GLASS PLEASE, liquor/boxed-wine/canned-beer/specialty pops/juice
- EXTRA SNACKS (optional) for small children and people with diabetes.
- GROUND CLOTH (optional, not included in Rental Kits) use it to sleep out under the stars
Things not to bring on your trip - glass-bottled beverages, radios, firearms, pets, and large amounts of cash beyond what you'll want for your guide's gratuity. Do not bring expensive jewelry, watches or electronics i.e. cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc. Warning: In the event of a loss our insurance will not cover these items. **If you do decide to bring any of these items along with you to the meeting point for your trip, the most secure location to leave them behind would be at your hotel in their safe or locked up in the trunk of your vehicle. As a last resort we have a non-secure location at our headquarters, (except San Juan trips), but we cannot assume responsibility for these items.
EARLY OR LATE SEASONS SUPPLEMENTS
(May, June and September on all trips.)
- STOCKING CAP wool/polypropylene
- GLOVES wool/polypropylene
- WETSUIT BOOTIES (optional) replaces water sport shoes above
- PILE OUTERWEAR in addition to a quality jacket, synthetic pile pants
- LONG UNDERWEAR med. weight polypropylene/synthetic type
There is a greater chance of inclement weather on these trips which otherwise offer many advantages to the well-prepared river traveler. Polypropylene, fleece, pile, capeline, etc. are a few examples of trade names for a class of synthetic materials that retain their ability to insulate when wet (please note, cotton does not.) Your comfort on the trip starts with finding the right type of synthetic under and outer-wear and quality rain gear. We recommend Backcountry.com for your additional river trip needs. They offer a wide variety of gear to help you dress for success while on your river trip, no matter what the weather decides to do. A prepared traveler is a happy traveler.
ITEMS YOU CAN BUY AT HOLIDAY'S ONLINE STORE:
www.BikeRaft.com or at our accessories stores in Green River and Vernal; the meeting points for our Cataract, Westwater, Desolation, Lodore and Yampa trips (not San Juan trips).
ITEMS YOU CAN BUY AT BACKCOUNTRY.COM Backcountry camping gear and clothing