Cataract Canyon River Rafting

About This Trip

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.

Cataract Canyon runs just downstream of Moab UT and into the heart of Canyonlands National Park.  After all the rapids you can handle the river enters Glen Canyon National Rec. Area where we take out below the confluence of the Dirty Devil.

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; an addendum below digs into the variations to expect.

Day One: Meet group at headquarters in Green River, Utah. After a 1 ½ hour drive to the put-in the river takes you past a collection of tabletop mesas. Short hikes could reveal a variety of ancient artifacts or a petrified forest.

Day Two: 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 Three: We reach the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. The Ute Indians believe the Confluence to be the center of the universe. Just below the meeting of these two rivers enjoy a view of the Doll House, an appropriately named collection of freestanding, sandstone columns.

Day Four:
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 Five:
Begin the journey through majestic Narrow Canyon and the former high-water mark for “Lake” Powell. Aided by motorboat “Hayduke” during higher lake levels, you’ll finish the trip at Dirty Devil Take-out. A two-hour drive brings you back to Green River.

If you are on a 6 day Cataract Canyon trip, you can expect a similar itinerary to this 5-day. However with lower late-season river flows and an extra day to play, you may take some extra time in the upper canyon exploring artifacts or side-canyons and reach the confluence sometime on the 4th day. You may dive into some whitewater on day 4 but likely will spend the 4th night nestled between mighty rapids in the heart of Cataract Canyon. On Day 5 you would then run out the “Big Drops” and the rapids below Lake Powell’s historic high-water mark. This 6 day trip will finish much like its earlier season counterpart, exploring the upper reaches of Narrow Canyon and the boat-ramp back to the ‘real’ world.

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 our packing check list 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: 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 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. 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 [email protected]

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 may seem hot 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 sunscreen. *Please avoid spray on sun-screen for the health and safety of your guide and fellow-guests

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.  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. 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 also offers family dining with riverside seating and some delicious cuisine to boot.

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

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 headquarters in Green River.

If you are flying, you can fly to Salt Lake City located 180 miles northwest of Green River, Utah.  From there 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) *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 mosquitoes – call 435-564-3633 to make reservations), and the KOA Campground (435-564-8195 – across from our headquarters).

Air Service to Salt Lake City (SLC) 

Transportation Options from Salt Lake City to Green River, Vernal or Blanding, Utah:

Rental Cars

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.

  • Salt Lake City to Green River 180 miles
  • Salt Lake City to Blanding 300 miles
  • Salt Lake City to Vernal 180 miles

Bus
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)

Trip Overview

Location: Colorado River – Canyonlands National Park
Type: Rafting
Length: 5-6 Days
Dates: May – September
Meet At: Green River, Utah 8:00 am
Rating: Intermediate, Advanced
Age Min: 16 (June), 8 (July and August)
Deposit: $300

Trip Prices

5-Day
Adult – $1,125
Youth – $985 (18 & under)
Group – $985 (10 or more)
Senior – $985 (65 & older)

6-Day
Adult – $1,200
Youth – $1,050 (18 & under)
Group – $1,050 (10 or more)
Senior – $1,050 (65 & older)

 

Departure Dates

2017 Trip Schedule

5 Day Trip Dates

May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Jun 5, 12, 19, 26
July 3, 10, 17

6 Day Trip Dates

July 24, 31
August 7, 14, 21, 28
September 3, 10

Check Availability

What’s Included

Life Jacket
Large Waterproof Bag
Day Bag
Camp Chair
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

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 provided bag
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-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.

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Average rating:  
 67 reviews
by Martha Mastroberti on Blank Business Name

Very comfortable van, fabulous guides (Brinn and Rocky) and delicious food. The guides make or break a trip like this. They were very skilled, good natured, personable and always happy to help with anything. We would take another trip with Rocky and Brinn anytime!

by Rose Engelland on Blank Business Name

I planned a 60th birthday party floating down Cataract Canyon. It was a private trip with just friends. It was incredibly beautiful and restful out there in the canyons. No cell, no television, no computer. My mind felt washed. Holiday is so professional in the way they handle everything. The pre trip planning process is excellent. The guides are excellent in a low key way and they cater to all your needs.I am very impressed with your company.

by Larry Frank on Blank Business Name

Where do you store all that fantastic food when we are on the river? It just keeps coming and coming. Wow! Terrific Trip! Guides were super knowledgeable about the natural history and ancestral inhabitants of the area. Kudos to everyone!

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