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.
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 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.
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!
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
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.
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)
- 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:||Colorado River – Canyonlands National Park|
|Dates:||May – September|
|Meet At:||Green River, Utah 8:00 am|
|Age Min:||16 (June), 8 (July and August)|
Adult – $1,125
Youth – $985 (18 & under)
Group – $985 (10 or more)
Senior – $985 (65 & older)
Adult – $1,200
Youth – $1,050 (18 & under)
Group – $1,050 (10 or more)
Senior – $1,050 (65 & older)
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
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.
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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!
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.
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!
A Terrific time! From the moment we met the guides through the take out at the end of the trip, everything was well managed and enjoyable. No small detail was overlooked including the meals that were vegetarian or gluten free. Our guides instilled confidence and trust in us from the moment we entered the water - not to mention a great sense of fun and adventure. This trip will always be a treasured memory not only for the wonderful group of friends who shared it together but also because Julian, Max, and Trevor made the trip so special.
Very impressed with the caliber and extensive knowledge of the guides. We had three geologists in our group and our guides could definitely hold their own. Our group ranged in age from 18 to 74 and the guides went out of their way to connect with each and every one of us. Our kids, aged 18 and 21, rate this trip as their best vacation ever.
The guides were great. They were so considerate. We really enjoyed them. And the food was really good, even with some dietary restrictions. Every meal was well planned and could not have been better. We felt very safe, even after witnessing two private boats overturn in the rapids. We did this trip to celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary. We love Southern Utah and the canyons and thought this would be a good way to see Canyonlands, it really was! The scenery was spectacular. My wife commented that this was the funnest thing we have ever done. Better than Australia, better than Oahu or Maui, better than an Alaskan Cruise with 4,000 other people (we liked sleeping under the stars way better than sleeping in an orange and purple bedroom on a cruise ship). We thought our camping days were over, but this was really fun.
What an awesome trip. Brin, Rocky and Bryon worked very hard. Felt very safe even going over Big Drop Rapid. These guys were amazing. I’ve never seen guides so willing to do whatever is needed to make our trip memorable. Diplomats at every event. Not one feeling of tension over four days. Brin’s knowledge of the area, river and Anasazi was impressive. Not to mention the food. Fresh veggies and fruit and dutch oven meals for every dinner. What a pleasant surprise. I would recommend your company to anyone. Thanks for such a fun trip
I love the way this company runs rivers! The experience of riding a triple rig through Cataract Canyon in high water is one I will always remember. Thank you to the guides and the staff for a lovely trip.
Thirty eight years ago I had the privilege of taking the five day Cataract Canyon trip with Dee Holiday as my guide - God rest his soul. It was a fantastic and exciting experience; especially at Little Niagara with 55,000 cubic feet a second flowing. I had long desired to take my daughter on this same trip and on May 23-27, 2016 the wish was fulfilled. Brin and Rocky were our guides and no better guides could we have hoped for. They know the river; its history and nuances and are fantastic cooks to boot. My daughter commented that this trip was the greatest experience of her life to date. KUDOS to the entire Holiday organization and please continue to do it the old fashioned way; with oars.
Having ridden on ancient school buses with other companies we were very happy with your modern vans! This was an absolutely fantastic trip. We'd rafted with other companies before but Holiday was by far the best experience we've ever had. The scenery, hikes and whitewater in Cataract are great but doing the trip with Holiday just took it to the next level. Our guides: Ben, Dustin and Tanner were incredibly friendly, professional and knowledgeable for every moment of the trip. They did everything with a smile and genuine joy of being on the river doing this job. They really made the trip for us. Of course the food was also incredible. I found myself stuffed after every meal because I couldn't stop eating the delicious and creative dishes the guides whipped up. They even cooked us lasagna and cakes in the dutch ovens! We're already scheming about our next trip with Holiday. Now we just have to decide if we're going to do Yampa or Lodore first!