- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
- Getting Here
Forty-six miles of remote dirt road winds along a mile wide sandstone bench trapped between the Blue Mountains, 2000 feet up on your right, and the Yampa River Gorge, twelve hundred feet down on your left. We will ride to scenic overlooks of the river canyon cut from a breath-taking landscape of petrified sand dunes. On the morning of day three we will drop our bikes and don our life vests for the time of your life down the Yampa River.
YAMPA BENCH / YAMPA RIVER HIGHLIGHTS
- Bike through sandstone bench
- Scenic overlooks of the river canyon
- Free flowing river
- Tiger striped walls & overhangs
- Spectacular campsite with big sandy beaches
- Side canyon hiking and exploring
Submit your review
Dustin, Jesse, Sherpa, Jim, Chad and Josh were all kind, competent, warm and thoroughly enjoyable. They took a great trip and made it fantastic. I can't praise the guides’ contribution to the overall enjoyment enough.
Every day was perfect. A very stimulating, yet relaxing vacation!
This trip was incredible. The biking was so well supported and the guides for both parts of the trip were great. I felt very safe at all times and taken care of both on the bikes and in the rafts. The food made me so spoiled, I am on hunger strike at home wanting that lasagna, steak, fish fillets, burritos, oh my gosh it was all so yummy and expertly prepared. I loved the hike to the waterfall, with bighorn sheep on the trail and everything. What can I say, it was perfect.
Tammy and Karen are great and treated me professionally but were so friendly! The guides made our trip exceptional. I loved the extra hikes/activities which were so interesting, fun and unique. The food was really good and I appreciate the willingness to accommodate my vegetarian diet. Our Holiday trip was a slice of heaven!! The venue was without compare and the trip provided our extended family with a chance to have fun and connect in a way that other experiences never have - really, memories to last a lifetime.
The river trip is like tailgating at God's stadium.
DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
YAMPA RIVER BIKE/RAFT
One of the advantages of a bike/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 in the area. This typical itinerary illustrates a bike trip on the Yampa Bench and a raft trip on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument.
Day 1: Meet group at Holiday River Expeditions headquarters in Vernal, Utah. A one and a half hour van ride, takes us to Iron Springs Overlook for a magnificent view of things to come. Time to fill your water bottle and adjust your bike seat for one of the most spectacular downhill glides on the Colorado Plateau. Seven miles and two thousand vertical feet later we will have made the descent from the high plateau through Sand Canyon to the Yampa Bench. Riding along the mostly level bench takes us past breathtaking overlooks where we can view the Yampa River one-thousand feet below. We will camp near Johnson Canyon, where a short hike reveals an area noted for its rare plants.
Day 2: Day two will be our most ambitious day of biking (20-25 miles). A morning roller coaster ride takes us past the old Baker homestead, beyond Haystack Rock to the beginning of our climb over Blue Mountain’s Ridge tops. Two miles and 700 vertical feet of pedaling deliver us into Bear Valley, where we receive our reprieve; several miles of smooth sailing. We will camp this evening at the head of Disappointment Draw with distant views of the Yampa Valley.
Day 3: This day begins with a short morning ride before hiking down Disappointment Draw. Support vehicles transfer bikes and equipment back to headquarters, and you board the rafts at Deerlodge Park. The Yampa River’s speedy flow takes you over many miles and abundant rapids.
Day 4: Big Joe rapid usually marks the beginning of this day. Extra time provides opportunities for hiking and exploring up Johnson Canyon into Signature Cave with indigenous ancestral sites.
Day 5: The Yampa meanders past such attractions as The Grand Overhang, Cleopatra’s Couch and Tiger Wall. A heavy flash flood in 1965 down Warm Springs Draw choked the Yampa with boulders, forming the river’s largest rapid.
Day 6: The Yampa joins the Green River at Echo Park where the canyon widens before the river circles Steamboat Rock. Here the river enters Whirlpool Canyon. The afternoon may be spent at Jones Hole Creek – a blue-ribbon trout stream with side canyon petroglyphs and waterfall.
Day 7: Peaceful morning in Rainbow and Island Park areas before entering another massive gorge. The Green’s powerful forces cut laterally through Split Mountain’s uplifted and colorful core. Rapids abound before the take out and a 35-minute ride back to Vernal.
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 Vernal, Utah at Holiday River Expeditions headquarters (see map), 7:00 a.m. (Mountain Time) the morning your trip begins. If you arrive in Vernal by bus or plane, call our headquarters (435-789-4586) 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 Holiday River Expeditions headquarters (7:00 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). Before leaving our headquarters, each guest along with a Holiday guide will perform a pre-trip inspection of your bike. If you are providing your own bike, please make sure that it is in good repair, we recommend a complete service by a professional shop prior to the trip. Guests with bikes’ that fail our inspection will be asked to rent a Holiday bike for $160.00/person. We will then take a one and a half hour van ride to the embarkation point.
After the trip: We will disembark at Split Mountain Campground in Dinosaur National Monument near Jensen, Utah. From there we will transport you back to our headquarters in Vernal, Utah (35 minute van ride). Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is about 4:00 p.m.
The Bicycling: The Yampa Bench bike route follows a graded dirt road for most of the trip with a few steep down hills, and one extended uphill segment. This dirt road has steep gradients, loose rocks, sand, and ruts. Riders, who have no previous off-road bicycling experience, should be experienced road cyclists with good athletic ability. All riders should prepare for the trip by riding their bike on a regular basis prior to the trip.
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.
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.
Insurance: Medical Evacuation and cancellation insurance on a vacation plan can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. 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. Information should be enclosed with this package. It is available to American and Canadian citizens, as well as citizens of another country as long as you have a U.S. address. If you would like a quote or you have questions give us a call. 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. Note that on this trip you will have one set of guides for the biking, and a different set of guides on the river. If you intend to tip both, you should do so separately, at the end of each trip segment.
Beverages/Snacks: We provide ice water, gatorade, lemonade, one soda per day per 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/snacks that you bring so that you can keep track of them. In Utah, wine or liquor is not sold after 7:00 p.m., before 11:00 a.m., or on Sundays and holidays. We will have high-energy snacks (for the bike portion) and fresh fruit available, but if you have a favorite energy bar or snack bring it along.
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 VERNAL HEADQUARTERS NUMBER IS 435-789-4586
Dinosaur weather: In the early and late seasons (May, early June and September) temperatures in Dinosaur average 55 to 70 degrees during the day and 50 to 60 degrees at night. In late June through August, daytime temperatures are between 80 and 90 degrees with nighttime temperatures 60 to 70 degrees. There is always some possibly of rain which can cool temperatures considerably. With this in mind we recommend you have a rain suit, long underwear, (fleece top and pants are nice in cool weather too) and a light tent. If you reserved a rental kit with us when you booked your river trip, we will have a tent and rain gear for you. There will also be 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 is so pleasant. Any wilderness trip, however, is subject to an occasional localized insect hatch. During these hatches 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 strictly an optional activity. There are many interesting short hikes available. Hiking can be done in your biking shoes, 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.
Fishing: On the next to last day we will arrive at Jones Hole, which is a beautiful trout stream. We normally spend about three hours here and may even camp. You will need a Utah fishing license to fish, and this may be purchased at most sporting goods stores, or Smiths in Vernal prior to the trip. Please note that these stores will not be open the morning you meet for your trip. Only artificial lures and flies are allowed on this stream. If you would like to receive more information or secure your license in advance contact: Utah Wildlife Resources, 1596 W. No. Temple, SLC, UT 84116, 801-538-4700, or online.
Things to see in the area: Dinosaur Natural History Museum in Vernal (open 8:00 a.m. ‑ 9:00 p.m.) www.dinoland.com, Dinosaur National Monument’s Quarry Visitor Center and the Harper Corner Overlook. Also, nearby are the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Jones Hole Federal Fish Hatchery, Ouray National Waterfowl Refuge, Uinta Mountains, and others.
Reading Material you may enjoy:
Exploration of the Colorado River Powell…………………………………………. $12.95
Dinosaur River Guide Belknap (waterproof)……………………………………… $19.95
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 Vernal.
If you are flying, you can fly to Salt Lake City located 180 miles west of Vernal, Utah. From Salt Lake City you can rent a car and drive 3 hours to Vernal. 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 seven motels:
Holiday Inn Express 435-789-4654 (indoor pool, complimentary breakfast)
Landmark Inn & Suites 435‑781‑1800 (kitchenette & free hot breakfast)
Spring Hill Suites by Marriott 435‑781‑9000 (indoor pool, hot tub, kitchenette, complimentary continental breakfast buffet)
Best Western Antlers 435-789-1202 (outdoor pool, indoor hot tub, complimentary full breakfast)
Super 8 435-789-4326 (indoor pool, continental breakfast)
Econo Lodge 435-789-2000 (complimentary continental breakfast)
Motel 6 435-789-0666 (indoor pool)
BE SURE TO MAKE ADVANCE RESERVATIONS!
If you are camping out, there are camping facilities in Dinosaur National Monument at the Green River Campground, or the Split Mountain Campground (groups only). These campgrounds are a 35 minute drive from our Vernal headquarters and they have tables, fire pits, modern comfort stations, a water system, trailer sites, campfire amphitheater and a nature trail; there is also wood for sale. Reservations are required for the Split Mountain campground, and they require a $10 reservation fee plus $25/site to camp/night (435-781-7759). The Green River campground is on a first‑come, first‑serve basis, and it is $12/vehicle/night to camp. An entrance fee is also required. There is also the Dinosaurland KOA in Vernal (435-789-2148).
Flight Recommendations - Salt Lake City, Utah
Air Service to Salt Lake City (SLC)
- Air Canada 888-247-2262
- Alaska Airlines 800-252-7522
- 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
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 800-618-0104
- SkyWest Airlines 800-453-9417
- Southwest Airlines 800-435-9792
- United Airlines 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 801-575-2211
- Avis 801-575-2847
- Budget 801-575-2821
- Dollar 801-575-2580
- Enterprise 801-537-7433
- Firefly 801-531-3563
- Hertz 801-575-2683
- National 801-575-2277
- Payless 801-322-6330
- Thrifty 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
To Green River Only (Bus has limited schedule and is not as convenient as rental cars)
Shuttle Service to Green River or Blanding, Utah from Salt Lake City or Moab (Vernal is on a Charter basis only)
Biking/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, gatorade, lemonade, juices, 1 pops/person/day-mix of reg. & diet
- BIKE REPAIR KITample for common road repair on standard Mt. Bikes. If your bike has nonstandard components, come prepared.
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 (S) (not included in rental kit)
- SLEEPING BAG compact and warm
- GROUND CLOTH waterproof
- PONCHO/RAIN SUIT high quality important
- SLEEPING PAD 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. 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.
- BIKE must be in good repair; Holiday rental bike with helmet is available $160.00/bike; If personal bike fails to meet minimum safety standards you will be asked to rent a Holiday bike. Please note if renting bike - if you have clipless shoes you MUST bring your own pedals. Holiday rental bikes come with platform pedals only.
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, bike jerseys; i.e. T-shirts
- SHIRT (S) long-sleeved, quick dry for sun protection
- SHOES keep dry for camp/hiking/biking, i.e. durable sneakers or light weight 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) medium weight polypropylene/synthetic type
- BIODEGRADABLE SOAP available at outdoor specialty stores, or ivory soap
- INSECT REPELLENT Deet concentrate in 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
- FANNY PACK for hiking
- EXTRA BEVERAGES/SNACKS (optional) NO GLASS PLEASE, liquor/boxed wine/canned-beer/specialty pops/juice/high energy foods
- GROUND CLOTH (optional) for sleeping 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, but we cannot assume responsibility for these items.
EARLY OR LATE SEASONS SUPPLEMENTS
(May, June and September)
- STOCKING CAP wool/synthetic
- GLOVES wool/synthetic
- RIDING TIGHTS cold weather riding
- WETSUIT BOOTIES (optional) replaces water sport shoes above
- PILE OUTERWEAR in addition to a quality jacket, synthetic pile pants
- LONG UNDERWEAR medium weight smartwool/synthetic type
BIKE CLOTHING & GEAR SUPPLEMENT
- TUBE PATCH KIT
- BIKE SHORTS padded
- BIKE GLOVES a necessity
- HELMET required - no exceptions, ANSI or SNELL approved
- SPARE BIKE TUBE Tuffy/Kevelar thorn strips are nice
- WATER BOTTLE (S)/HYDRATION SYSTEM
- GEL BIKE SEAT OR GEL SEAT COVER (optional)
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 White Rim/Cataract, Moab/Westwater and Yampa Bench/Yampa trips.
ITEMS YOU CAN BUY AT BACKCOUNTRY.COM Backcountry camping gear and clothing