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The great Tavaputs Plateau and Desolation Canyon are among the most remote areas of the continental United States. This area has been home to the Fremont Indians for thousands of years. You’ll find a remarkable array of flora and fauna in this area accented by tall rainbow colored cliffs sculpted by centuries of winds and water. History has it that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid used this area as a hideaway in their escape from law enforcement back in the “Old West Days”.
Desolation Canyon is actually anything but desolate. Instead, this amazing area is teeming with Bighorn Sheep, Birds of Prey and the occasional black bear. You’ll often see an eagle soaring overhead. As the Green River flows through Desolation Canyon, it is surrounded with groves of cottonwood trees and white sand beaches. These canyons abound with caves and ancient petroglyphs, and archaeologists have been visiting the area for many years uncovering its amazing history.
This 84 mile white water rafting trip into Desolation Canyon takes us on the ride of a lifetime and we will encounter over 60 rapids! Belknap Rapid, created in 1987 by a flash flood, is a favorite and makes quite an exhilarating experience all by itself. The whitewater builds in intensity each day.
All top notch as always! Holiday Expeditions has a mission to "preserve our nation's wild lands." They do it through top notch environmental ethics, guide training, and by connecting their clients to wild nature. Holiday also supports the work of conservation organizations such as Great Old Broads for Wilderness. Thanks Holiday!
It is always a pleasure to work with the office staff at Holiday. I think that the videos plus the photos give a very good feel for each trip. The description of each trip is made more real by the media presentation. I totally loved the flight from Green River into the put-in place on the Green River. What a thrill to arrive on that flat mesa top and to see the Green from the air. What makes Holiday special is the combination of three things: the trips themselves; the way that Holiday gets traverses each river; the enthusiasm and knowledge of the guides. The trips could sell themselves. Holiday uses oar boats thus connecting itself to the traditions of John Wesley Powell and those who followed. Then the guides layer in their enthusiasm and knowledge of geology/hydrology/ecology, and then your mind really begins to expand.
I received timely and relevant communications (unsolicited) prior to the trip. If I could put multiple stars on these ratings, I would. I've done river trips with many rafting companies. Holiday will always be my favorite company. The rafts, food, professional and friendly guides, and efficient organization all contributed to a wonderful experience. I hope to have many trips with Holiday in the future.
unfortunately we were not able to do any of the planned hikes. I know this was because of the wind on Day 1 (poor guides!). I had heard the hike was great. Overall it was a fantastic trip. Guides were ALL great. Lots of kids on the trip, and the guides were very good with them all. Food was really good. And the coffee was strong! Swimming in the river - loved it. More rapids- I need to do a crazier trip.
Great trip! Wonderful way to see new country. Interesting well informed guides with complementary skills and knowledge. Good way to get everyone's noses out of their electronic gizmos and get some experience of the challenges of living outdoors!
Desolation and Gray canyons are on the National Register of Historic Places because the famous and infamous were drawn here. In 1830, trapper Denis Julien left graffiti on the canyon walls. Almost 40 years later, John Wesley Powell traveled through the canyons and christened them. Soon after Powell passed through, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid found this a great place to escape justice. Today, if you really want to get away, there is no better place than the Green River Wilderness.
The Green River cuts a series of chasms through the Tavaputs Plateau and forms a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Creek (5500′). There are petroglyphs, ruins, abandoned homesteads and marvelous camping sites among verdant cottonwoods on soft sand beaches. This is a perfect place to try your skills with an inflatable kayak.
One of the greatest advantages of a river rafting vacation is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. It can vary widely from one river rafting 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 Desolation and Gray Canyons. In August, we lengthen the Desolation Canyon tour by one day while still following this general itinerary.
Fly into Sand Wash put-in from Green River. There is a 30 minute downhill hike from the canyon rim to the rafts waiting at river bottom. The trail is well marked but there is some loose footing along the way. Plan ahead to wear appropriate shoes for the hike. Guests who are concerned about the hike can be transported by vehicle to the river. View a historical marker at the head of Desolation Canyon before entering the canyon by raft. This evening we will camp near Gold Hole.
Hikes to Fremont Indian ruins and petroglyphs interspersed with sections of whitewater. Steer Ridge Rapid is the most memorable. Camp this evening will be in a cottonwood grove or on a mile-long sandbar.
We take a side canyon hike up to Rock Creek, a clear water stream. Here we discover extensive petroglyphs, and abandoned Rock Creek and McPherson Ranches. Legend has it that Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch slept here.
The whitewater rapids grow larger and more impressive each day. The crescendo: Belknap, Three Fords, and Coal Creek rapids. Today we leave Desolation Canyon and enter Gray Canyon.
Today, we run half a dozen more white water rapids before lunch and then take out near Swasey’s beach. It’s a short trip back to Green River and our headquarters.
The group will meet for this white water rafting trip in Green River, Utah at Holiday River Expeditions headquarters (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. If you are driving, your car can be left at our headquarters. Departure time can vary from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. (Mountain Time), depending on your flight. For this reason it is imperative that you attend our pre-trip orientation the night before your trip to finalize your departure time.
The day before your river rafting tour, there will be a pre-trip orientation meeting at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). A Holiday River representative will give you a short orientation on all aspects of river travel. At this time we will issue your waterproof bags, answer any questions you may have, and finalize your flight departure time for the rafting trip. If you need to buy any last minute items from our accessory store, please plan to do so at this time (see check list of what to bring for a list of items you can find at our store). Special Note: Due to the limited space and weight on the aircraft, we ask that if you bring specialty sodas, beer, wine or other extra heavy items, please deliver these items to our headquarters by 2:00 p.m. the day before your trip (see beverages).
On the morning of the white water rafting trip, plan to arrive promptly at the predetermined time established at our pre-trip orientation meeting. We will then take you to the local airstrip. Our prescheduled flight will be waiting to take us to the embarkation point (30 minutes). The flight is on a small single engine type aircraft.
We will return you to Green River, Utah (30 minute van ride). Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Our river 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 may have such as diabetes or allergic reactions. Once on the river, our location is remote and a long way from any hospitals, doctors, or pain-relieving medicines. Evacuations to modern medical facilities can be long and expensive. In case of evacuation and/or medical treatment beyond first aid, expenses incurred are the responsibility of the participant.
If cancellations are made prior to 90 days before the river rafting 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 river rafting trip date monies will be refunded less a $100.00 service charge per person. Cancellations made within 45 days of the river rafting tour date are non refundable. Prior to 45 days to the rafting 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.
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. 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 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.
Guests often want to know if tipping is appropriate after the rafting trip. If you feel the river guides have enhanced the enjoyment of your river rafting vacation, you may choose to direct a gratuity to the rafting 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. The decision to tip is left completely to your discretion.
Holiday River Expeditions will provide ice water, lemonade, two sodas per day per person and ample cooler space. If you would like to bring any specialty sodas and/or alcoholic beverages, we are happy to accommodate within reason. However, because of limited space on the charter flight we must control the amount of extra beverages you carry with you on the plane. If you intend to bring 1 case or less then please bring the beverages with you the morning of the trip and carry it on the plane. For quantities greater than this we request that you contact our office three weeks prior to your trip to make arrangements in getting your beverages to the river. Wine packaged in a box is ideal. Mark beverages that you bring so they will be 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 questionsprior to leaving for your white water river rafting vacation, we ask that you 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 any questions. You may also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE EVENT OF EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES THE NIGHT BEFORE THE RAFTING TRIP, OUR GREEN RIVER HEADQUARTERS NUMBER IS 435-564-3273
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 Desolation Canyon, but when it does, the weather can cool down considerably in May and September. For this reason, we recommend that you have a poncho or rain suit, polypropylene underwear (fleece top & pants will work as well), and a light tent. If you reserved a rental unit with us when you booked your river rafting trip, then we will have a tent and rain gear prepared for you. In 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. There will be an abundance of sunshine on the Green River, so be sure to bring a hat and plenty of suntan lotion or sunscreens.
Bugs, snakes, and other pests are generally no problem. In fact, the lack of pesky insects is one of the reasons wilderness camping on the beautiful Colorado and Green Rivers is so pleasant. Any river rafting 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 a generous supply of repellent. Insect repellents that contain Adeet@ 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 rafting 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 our elevation. There are many interesting short hikes available. Hiking can be done in durable sneakers or lightweight hiking boots. Remember that our ability to go hiking, swimming, and exploring will vary widely depending upon our time, and what other plans are ahead for our 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.
Exploration of the Colorado River Powell $12.95
Desolation River Guide Belknap (waterproof) $19.95
The Educated Outlaw Harvey Lay Murdock (Grandson) $10.95
Life in Stone Christa Sadler $11.95
Desolation Canyon and Gray Canyons Felix E. Mutschler $10.95
The River Knows Everything: Desolation Canyon & the Green Aton/Miller $34.95
These books can be ordered online at our e-store, or by sending the appropriate amount listed above plus $4.95 shipping and handling for the first book, and an additional $2.00 for each book thereafter 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.
You can 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 or www.moabluxurycoach.com) 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) www.river-terrace.com
Comfort Inn 435-564-3300 (inside pool, hot tub, continental breakfast – in front of our headquarters) *10% discount for Holiday guests – must have a trip invoice at check in. www.comfortinn.com/hotel-green_river-utah-UT424
Holiday Inn Express 435-564-4439 (inside pool, hot tub, continental breakfast – west of our headquarters) www.hiexpress.com
Super 8 435-564-8888 (inside pool, hot tub, refrigerator, microwave) www.super8.com
Motel 6 435-564-3436 (pool, kids free, lower rates) www.motel6.com
Sleepy Hollow 435-564-8189 (clean with lower rates)
*When making advance reservations at the 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).
BE SURE TO MAKE ADVANCE RESERVATIONS!!
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) Or, do it yourself, we can help… Air Service to Salt Lake City (SLC) or Denver (DEN) 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. Salt Lake City to Green River 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 Moab (CNY) (52 miles south of Green River), Utah from Denver, Colorado
Email Attention Mateja or Cindy: email@example.com">
Colorado and Utah Rivers
Gateway - Salt Lake City, Utah OR Denver, Colorado
All rental cars are located in both terminals of the Salt Lake City Airport.
Salt Lake City to Blanding 300 miles
Salt Lake City to Vernal 180 miles
Air Service to Vernal (VEL), Utah from Denver, Colorado
Or, do it yourself, we can help…
Air Service to Salt Lake City (SLC) or Denver (DEN)
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.
Salt Lake City to Green River 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 Moab (CNY) (52 miles south of Green River), Utah from Denver, Colorado
PROVIDED BY HOLIDAY RIVER EXPEDITIONS
Printable PDF version
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. Backcountry.com offers a wide variety of gear to help you dress for success the for 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, Ranch, Desolation, Labyrinth, Fisher Towers, Lodore and Yampa trips.