Yampa River Stargazing Trip
About This Trip
This free flowing river canyon boasts some of the darkest skies in the West. In the heart of Dinosaur National Monument the Yampa River runs wild and free. Spring run off in May and June offer exciting rapids by day and by night we look towards the starry-skies. Spend your days exploring side canyon hikes to rock art, waterfalls and ancient Indian ruins along with consistent whitewater fun. In the evenings let your mind expand alongside the universe around us. Using both binoculars and the naked eye, this trip will explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn constellations.
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 on the Yampa River. In June, we lengthen the Yampa trip by one day and follow this general itinerary.
Day One: Meet party at headquarters in Vernal, Utah before a 2.5 hour drive to our put-in at Deerlodge Park in Colorado. The Yampa’s speedy flow takes you over many miles and abundant rapids. Watch with awe as the canyon’s walls bend back and forth as you descend into this layer-cake of a gorge.
Day Two: Visit indigenous ancestral sites, after 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 Three: 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 Four: Peaceful morning in Island and Rainbow Park 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.
On a 5-day Yampa trip you will follow the same river-currents as on a 4 day with minor changes. Your second day may not yet find you at an ancestral site but rather a stunning overlook hike or possibly an idyllic cave viewpoint. Your 3rd day would drift you back on course into much of the same schedule as the 4-day itinerary.
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!
Coming from either direction on I-40 head East onto 500 South; follow for 1 block until the 1st stop sign, then turn right onto 1500 East ; drive straight until the road bends back towards 1-40. Instead of looping back to the main road simply drive straight into a dirt driveway that will vere left and end at our Headquarters.
Beginning of the trip: Upon your arrival at Holiday River Expeditions 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 one and a half hour van ride to Deerlodge Park, 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 60 days of the trip date monies will be refunded less a $100.00 service charge per person. Cancellations made within 60 days of the trip date are non refundable. Prior to 60 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. They will then distribute it evenly to the other crewmembers. The average contribution amount ranges between $20.00 and $30.00 per guest, per day. Cash is the preferred method of tipping.
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 of 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 [email protected].
IN THE EVENT OF EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TRIP, OUR VERNAL HEADQUARTERS NUMBER IS 435-789-4586
Bugs, snakes, etc. are 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) 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.
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 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, 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 online 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 river headquarters in Vernal.
Lodging before and after your trip can be booked at one of these 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)
- Micro Inn & Suites by Wyndham (435) 781-8141 (Indoor pool & hot tub, Fitness Center, complimentary 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).
Air Service to Salt Lake City (SLC)
- Air Canada 888-247-2262
- Alaska Airlines 800-252-7522
- American Airlines 800-433-7300
- 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
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)
|Location:||Yampa River – Dinosaur
|Dates:||June 9 – 13|
|Meet At:||Vernal, UT 8:00 AM|
$1075 per person
*$22 NPS Fees per person.
2018 Trip Schedule
5 Day Trip Date
Large Waterproof Bag
Eating Utencils & Plates
Full Course Meals: Lunch the first day through
lunch the last day
Drinks: Ice Water, Lemonade, Juices, One pop/person/day-mix of regular & 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 leak, so we always recommend packing important items in ziplock bags and leaving expensive electronics at home. 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.
What’s NOT Included
Plastic mugs work well
Not included in the rental kit
Compact and warm
high quality important for Dinosaur & Desolation trips.
Sleeping Pad/Air Mattress
Compact, must fit in the provided bag
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-person 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.