- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
- Getting Here
Legendary Cataract Canyon lies buried in the heart of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Our whitewater rafts offer fun and exciting transportation to side canyon grotto’s, waterfalls and ancient Pueblo ruins that are otherwise inaccessible. On this river rafting vacation we see the most vivid contrast between serene tranquility and all-out high adventure.
During the first segment of our Colorado river rafting trip the fast-moving current slides us quietly past brilliantly colored cliffs and towering table-top mesas. Here the river conditions both body and soul, giving you time to prepare yourself for the behemoth whitewater rapids awaiting below the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers.
Nowhere on its entire course does the Colorado River descend more precipitously than through Cataract Canyon. On night three of our river rafting adventure, the Colorado River will not rest. The roar of the cataracts will lull you to sleep, dance in your dreams, only to awaken you the next morning with a new song. Time to batten down the hatches and hold on because this is Cataract Canyon whitewater rafting at its best. Twenty-three BIG ONES, among them Mile Long, Ben Hurt and the grand-daddy of them all, The Big Drops, which is a succession of three heavy-hitters that will leave you laughing and cheering. We move 30 feet closer to sea level in less than a mile. Colorado River Rafting trips through Cataract Canyon begin in May and run through September.
- Explore the heart of Canyonlands National Park
- Classic Southern Utah Red Rock Desert Environment
- Immense Rolling Whitewater Waves
- Colorado River Rafting and side canyon hiking
Submit your review
We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with this trip. It was a luxury to take enough time, spend the trip with friends and be in such beautiful country. We even saw river otters, desert big horns, beaver and deer! Wonderful! Our guides shared their love of the area with us which made it that much more special.
Our Cataract Canyon trip was amazing! The Holiday team are true professionals. From the moment we arrived to the last goodbyes at the end, every detail was covered. The guides are very skilled, while also being very friendly and fun to hang with. Best of all, the trip accommodated both adults and kids equally - everyone had a blast. My only tip - don't wear white! Everything gets a little dingy after 5 days floating in the river. We would go again in a heartbeat.
Thank you so much for a memorable life changing trip on the River....I was apprehensive getting onto the river, but found that the River guides (Chet, Collin,Max,Rocky,Larken and Julian) to be a group of people that truely care about making the River experience one that will never be forgotten....They are professionals who cared about each of us, they were kind, caring, knowledgeable and awesome cooks....I was most impressed with how they worked along side of eachother and they each knew exactly what to do....there never seemed to be any confusion and they were always happy regardless of the time of day....Thank you Holiday for employeeing only the best guides to work for your company....Each one of them are an asset to your company....My husband and I will definately use Holiday in the future, It was a magnificent trip!!!! Thank YOU especially to the guides who made the trip fun,fun,fun!!! George and Beverly Brown!!
A family vacation with memories for a lifetime. The scenery is breathtaking and we saw so few people during our trip that we really felt we were on another planet. Our three guides were working hard for six days straight, from early morning to evening and yet, they were always cheerful. I would highly recommend everyone to take a rafting trip at least once in their life.
The whole experience for our family was better than expected. The guides all went out of their way to make us comfortable, well fed and entertained with tons of fun and adventures. We can't wait to book another trip with Holiday River Expeditions next year!
This trip was awesome! I had so much fun getting to know the other guests and guides. As a solo traveler, I was a little nervous but all of that evaporated once we got on the river. Leaving my phone and computer behind and embracing the calm of the canyon was exactly what I needed. The food was tasty, the stars were beautiful and the whitewater was intense! I can't wait to plan my next trip with Holiday.
We loved the duckies and inflatable stand up paddle boards. What a great combination: a lazy ducky float on the Green and BIG water triple rig down Cataract Canyon. The walk to the petroglyphs was outstanding. We hardly saw any other parties on either river and found our companions on the Glen Canyon Institute trip to be inspiring. Brin was an excellent trip leader. I was thrilled to be able to spend some time with Tim and even row with him in flat water for a bit. Bryan is an amazing young man with many talents. We hope to see at least some of these folks on the San Juan next year. Thank you all SO much!
I loved the triple rig setup, it gave us room to move around and not feel cramped on one boat. I loved the class V rapids, chance of a lifetime. It was a true getaway. So decadent with amazing meals, lounging around and soaking in the amazing scenery mixed with high adventure and red dust. Guides were awesome and patient. Can they come with us car camping?
The hiking and camping in the Canyonlands is by far some of the best ever. The local bats help eliminate the mosquitoes and biting flies. The camp spots were killer. Even the placement of bathrooms made all experiences magical. Our tour guides were top notch. Zack was a strong communicator and made me feel safe during the rapids. Ben was extremely knowledgeable and caring. I Saw him helping one of the kids with a hurt toe and he was an excellent medic. Jules is wicked smart. He was helpful with any questions we had about our maps and the surrounding landscapes. Collin was especially entertaining - his songs and guitar skills were amazing. However, the top highlight of the trip for me was hiking to the archaeological sites. They are mind blowing and so remote. I really got to enjoy the structures and petroglyphs up close and personal. This was less of a "rafting trip" in my mind and was more of an archaeological expedition without the digging, a pleasant surprise. Thanks so much!
We just returned from a five-day trip to Cataract Canyon. Loved it, recommend it! Guides so personable, capable, hard working, and knowledgeable. Management, equipment, food & bev, hikes and rapids all terrific.
Canyonlands National Park
Cataract Canyon is an anomaly. Its rapids rank along with those of the Grand Canyon in power and difficulty. In fact, the river becomes unruly during the run off in May and June.
Yet Cataract Canyon contains mile after mile of rafting through canyons where you are awe struck, not at the whitewater, but the deep multicolored canyons of this section of Canyonlands National Park. Side canyon hikes to ruins and petroglyphs delight you as you head toward the Confluence of the Colorado and the Green Rivers.
Once you reach the Confluence, the Colorado’s behemoth rapids emerge. Rapids 15 through 23 comprise Mile Long and The Big Drops, a fall of 80 feet in less than four miles–one of the Colorado’s steepest descents.
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 five-day trip through Cataract Canyon. From August to September, we lengthen the Cataract trip by one day and follow this general itinerary.
Day 1: Meet group at headquarters in Green River, Utah. After an hour and a half drive to the put-in the river takes you past a collection of tabletop mesas. Short hikes reveal a variety of ancient artifacts.
Day 2: The river peacefully meanders into the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Quiet beaches, hidden canyons, and refreshing water fights are common through this section of the trip.
Day 3: We reach the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. The Ute Indians believed the Confluence to be the center of the universe, and some people still do. Just below the meeting of these two rivers enjoy a view of the Doll House, an appropriately named collection of freestanding, sandstone columns.
Day 4: Possible early morning hike into Doll House. Ascend steeply to the canyon rim in the Maze District with red rock formations. After descending to the river, the rapids of Cataract Canyon await. The climax: Big Drop Rapids with Little Niagara and Satan’s Gut.
Day 5: Lunch at Rock Canyon and a trip across Lake Powell with the aid of motorboat “Hayduke” brings you to Hite Marina and the end of the trip. A two-hour drive brings you back to Green River.
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 disembark at Hite, Utah. From Hite we will take you back to our headquarters in Green River (2 hour van ride). Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is 5:00 to 6:00 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. 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
Canyonlands 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 Canyonlands, 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) mosquitoes can be bothersome. Be sure to bring long sleeve clothing and a generous supply of 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. Please be aware that some of the hikes on this trip can be more strenuous due to heat and elevation gain. 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:
Exploration of the Colorado River Powell…………………………………………. $12.95
Canyonlands River Guide Belknap (waterproof)………………………………… $19.95
Canyonlands Country Donald L. Baars……………………………………………. $15.95
National Geographic, “Exploring Canyonlands Natl. Park” (7/71)………… N/A
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 or Moab (Vernal is on a Charter basis only)
TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS FROM SALT LAKE CITY to Green River, Vernal or Blanding, Utah
Air Service to Vernal (VEL), Utah from Salt Lake City, Utah
- SkyWest Airlines aka Delta Connection 800-221-1212
- Enterprise 435-781-3008 & Allsave 435-789-4777 in Vernal
Air Service to Moab (CNY) (52 miles south of Green River), Utah from Salt Lake City, Utah
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 and clothing 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. 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.
- 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 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, 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, 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