- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
- Getting Here
Colorado River rafting doesn’t get much better than this! Our Westwater Canyon 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.
- Great introduction to river rafting
- Excellent choice if you are short on time
- Exciting class III & IV rapids
- Stunning wilderness canyon with unique rock formations
Guides Were Magic With The Dutch Oven
I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into when I had agreed to go on this trip with a group of friends. Brin and Alex were our tour guides and they were awesome! They were very friendly and knowledgeable. Not only did I get to take in the breathtaking scenery around me, I also learned a lot about the history of the area. The hikes were a little difficult but incredibly rewarding. And the food was delicious! It's incredible what these guides can cook outside the normal kitchen. One night we had filet mignon with freshly baked brownies (yes, they made a Dutch oven)! This was one of the greatest experiences I've had and I will definitely be coming back and booking a trip with Holiday River Expeditions in the future. Thank you for a memorable time!
Refreshing To “Unplug”
I was apprehensive at first because I don't care to "rough it" anymore. As it turned out, our family had a great time. No computers or phones = perfect. The guides were great, the weather was great and the scenery was awesome.
Lack Of Electronics Does Wonders For Connecting
Overall, being on the river with friends is the best experience ever. You unwind and with no electronics you actually visit, talk and connect with people. The trip was amazing!
The Weather Actually Enhanced Our Trip!
This was a terrific end to our short trip through Utah. Two days on the river was just enough time to unplug. Our guides were experts in handling the rafts, setting up camp, cooking and delivering a good time. They even arranged for lightning and thunderstorms to keep us amused. In spite of heavy rain and lightning, I never felt at risk on the river. As soon as we were able, we took shelter in an old prospector's cabin. We were delighted to see multiple red flash flood waterfalls as we progressed down river. It was likely a once in a lifetime experience for most of us. Susan, Julian, KC and Larkin provided a very enjoyable trip!
Standard Of Excellence
We rafted with Holiday many years ago in Lodore Canyon, and again last week in Westwater Canyon. I'm happy to report that the standard of excellence is still the same after all these years! The guides were knowledgeable and friendly, the food was amazing, and the hikes were terrific!
Providing The "Gold Standard" For River Rafting
As a ski instructor and former tour operator myself, I know firsthand what it takes to manage a group on a tour. I have to commend you and your staff for providing the best and most professional customer service imaginable. All your guides were terrific, but Julian and Susan were exceptional as far as their attentiveness to safety, hygiene, maintaining the gear and boats while providing for the comfort of all the guests throughout the entire trip. We were extremely impressed with the cohesiveness of the group and the teamwork exhibited by your staff who worked their “butts” off. The guide’s river running skills and competency speaks for itself, but their knowledge of all aspects of the trip from archaeology, geology, environmental sensitivity, etc. to their culinary and interpersonal skills vastly contributed to and enhanced our total experience. We certainly appreciated the trip and will recommend Holiday River Expeditions whenever the opportunity arises. You and your staff have set the bar high providing the “gold standard” for river rafting in general. Thank you again!
Good Old Fashioned Fun!
Our family unit of four (two young boys) had an unforgettable experience! From the rapids, to the fishing, to the wildlife, to the food, to the social interaction, all very enriching and genuine good old fashioned fun!
Same Trip, Different Experience
Everything is done very well and the guides are super personable. We did the exact same trip over the exact same weekend as last year and had a totally different experience. The water was running about twice as fast so although it felt like we were on the river about the same amount of time the 1st and 2nd day, we got in a lot more hikes which were really fun, too. The guides were just as great as last years, very friendly and helpful and got us through the big rapid safe and sound. We stopped for lunch and camped overnight in all different locations which made exploring interesting. It was so nice to be on the river with huge canyon walls surrounding us and to be away from the day to day events of life. Thanks!
AWESOME all the way around!!
Dave, Justin, Zac, and Colin made this one of our most fun and relaxing vacations ever! They were fun, the food was extraordinary, the time spent rafting vs relaxing a perfect ratio, and those wonderful guides anticipated our every need. Highly recommend!!
The River Transformed My Grandchildren
We brought our six grandchildren and the guides went out of their way to make sure the experience was memorable. Reaching camp early each afternoon, they took them on hikes after unloading the boats and played catch with them after dinner. The meals were fantastic with amazing menus in the middle of no-where. We wanted our six grandchildren, ranging in age from 11-21 to have the experience of a 3 day, 2 night journey on the Colorado River with Holiday River Expeditions. We knew we would not be disappointed as we have traveled with Holiday River in 1997. These kiddos who have grown up in Johnson County, KS without any previous camping experience found out how self-sufficient and independent they could be. They set up and broke down their camp sites, were able to kayak on the calm part of the river and experience the excitement of the rapids later in the trip. This was a memorable trip for all of us.
COLORADO RIVER, 2 OR 3 DAYS
Westwater’s rapids on this trip are created when the swift flowing Colorado River is forced through Granite Canyon, a narrow seam of polished black schist capped with red slickrock towers. Virtually unknown 30 years ago, Westwater Canyon has become a favorite choice for its pace, rhythm, and intensity.
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 ebony colored 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: Encounter rapids of Westwater–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. 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, 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 check list of what to bring 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 and cancellation insurance on a vacation plan can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. We offer plans underwritten by TRAVEL GUARD that cover accident, baggage and cancellation claims. An application should be enclosed with this information package. We encourage all to take advantage of this coverage. This 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 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: 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, two sodas 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 warm 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.
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) mosquitos 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.
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 either fly to Salt Lake City located 180 miles northwest of Green River, Utah (all major airlines), or fly to Moab from Denver (Great Lakes Aviation) 52 miles south of Green River, Utah. From both destinations you can rent a car or take a shuttle with Moab Luxury Coach (call 435-940-4212) 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 mosquitos – 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 (Vernal is on a Charter basis only)
TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS FROM DENVER to Green River, Vernal or Blanding, Utah
Air Service to Vernal (VEL), Utah from Denver, Colorado
Air Service to Moab (CNY) (52 miles south of Green River), Utah from Denver, Colorado
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, 2 pops/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 and clothing to no more than 15-20 lbs.
GEAR YOU MUST BRING OR RENT FROM HOLIDAY
- CUP plastic mugs work well
- WATER BOTTLE
- SLEEPING BAG compact and warm
- GROUND CLOTH waterproof
- 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 the items listed above in our sleeping rental kit. We offer two varieties, our basic sleeping kit which includes a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, ground cloth, 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.
- 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
- 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 concentrates in small bottles works best, i.e. Musk brand
- 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
- CAMELBAK/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.
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 electronics such as cell phones, laptops, tablets and the like, binoculars, cameras, jewelry and non-waterproof wristwatches. 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 and Sept. on all trips and in June on all Idaho, Yampa and Lodore trips.)
- STOCKING CAP wool/polypropylene
- GLOVES wool/polypropylene
- WETSUIT BOOTIES replaces water sport shoes above
- PILE OUTERWEAR in addition to a quality jacket, synthetic pile pants
- LONG UNDERWEAR (optional) 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, bunting, 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.
ITEMS YOU CAN BUY AT BACKCOUNTRY.COM Backcountry camping gear and clothing