- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
- Getting Here
In recent years, an increasing number of the guests on our desolate river trips look up at the Milky Way on moonless nights and candidly admit that they’ve never seen anything so beautiful in their lives. This has not been the norm for humanity; only in recent centuries have we cast our eyes elsewhere and forgotten the stars. Today, much of the Earth is losing its dark night skies to light pollution and most Americans will live their whole lives never seeing the Milky Way. Despite this, we are happy to say the rivers we run are all remote and have some of the darkest night skies on the planet. For this reason, Holiday River Expeditions is excited to partner with Clark Planetarium, to offer this Lodore Canyon “Dark Sky” specialty trip.
Your Lodore Canyon river rafting trip will flow through Dinosaur National Monument, currently recognized by the National Park Service as a “Sanctuary of Natural Darkness.” On this trip, we will connect to ghosts of river-runners and canyon dwellers of the past, escape into deep-red cliffs and find exhilarating whitewater. During the day float through Whirlpool Canyon and at night peer into the Whirlpool Galaxy; after dinner the night comes alive as we turn our sights upwards to explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn constellations, both with binoculars and naked eyes.
Utah is lucky to have a world-class institute like Clark Planetarium, dedicated to teaching people, especially kids, about astronomy. On these trips you can look forward to having a dedicated astro-wiz from the Planetarium as well as a dark canopy free of moonlight to see as far into space as humanly possible. This combination will assure your river nights are as exciting as your river days.
Join Holiday River Expeditions & Clark Planetarium to share in the oldest of human traditions, staring at the night sky.
- Deep narrow canyon with exceptional beauty
- Excellent wildlife viewing
- Dark Sky camping
- Exciting Class III & IV white water
Aug 17-20 Lodore Canyon
- The Milky Way
- Perseids meteor activity
- Wild Duck open cluster
- Fireworks galaxy
- Trifid nebula
- Dumbbell nebula
- Ring nebula
DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT
GREEN RIVER, LODORE CANYON, 4 DAYS
Lodore Canyon thrust Major Powell into his first real whitewater on his 1869 expedition. His adventure lives on in the rapids he named: Disaster Falls, Triplet Falls and Hell’s Half Mile.
This 44-mile stretch of the Green River, called the “Queen of Rivers,” cuts through the High Uinta Range traversing lands of alpine forests and desert slickrock. These are Utah’s highest mountains (King’s Peak: 13,400′) and the only range of the Rockies to run east/west.
The Gates of Lodore is a first-class river experience, yet it only takes four 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. This typical itinerary illustrates a four-day trip through Lodore Canyon.
Day 1: Meet party at headquarters in Vernal, Utah. Three-hour bus ride to Brown’s Park National Wildlife Refuge, the site of the put-in. Pass through the Gates of Lodore and encounter Upper and Lower Disaster Falls.
Day 2: The “Gates” mark the beginning of High Desert country – the Colorado Plateau – and as the canyon narrows, more rapids emerge: Harp Falls, Triplet Falls, and Hell’s Half Mile. Hike at Powell’s Rippling Brook and Falls.
Day 3: At the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers at Echo Park, 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 4: 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 check list of what to bring for a list of items you can find at our store). We will then take a three-hour scenic van ride to the Gates of Lodore, where we will transfer to the boats.
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.
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: Many guests ask us if tipping is appropriate after the trip. 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 crew-members. Of those that choose to tip, the average contribution amount ranges between $15.00 and $25.00 per guest, per day. However, the decision to tip is left to your sole discretion.
Beverages: We provide ice water, 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 that you bring so they are packed on your boat. 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 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. A little rain can happen and can cool temperatures considerably. With this in mind we recommend you have a rain suit, polypropylene underwear, (fleece top and pants are nice in cool weather too) and a light tent. If you reserved a rental unit 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.
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, but are also suspected of causing various health problems. Citronella-based products (skin-so-soft) 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.
Fishing: Trout can be found on the upper stretches of the Green River the first two days of the trip. This section is in the state of Colorado, so if you wish to fish these two days you will need a Colorado fishing license, which can be purchased on line. Most of the fish caught from the river after the first two days will be catfish. However, on the third day we will arrive at Jones Hole, a beautiful trout stream. We normally spend about three hours here and may even camp. You will need a Utah fishing license to fish here, which may be purchased at most sporting good 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 obtain 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. You can also fly directly from Denver, Colorado to Vernal, Utah with Great Lakes Aviation. 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)
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