- Sample Itinerary
- Trip Details
- About the Area
For centuries, the Green River has meandered through Desolation and Gray Canyons. The history of Desolation Canyon includes inhabitants such as the Fremont Indians and early settlers. Each tribe and resident has left its mark on this region, leaving behind abandoned homesteads and unique petroglyphs for archaeologists to study.
Desolation Canyon is home to many species such as bighorn sheep and birds of prey. The Green River flows through the Tavaputs Plateau, where time has carved out tall, exquisite rock formations. These remote canyons were once the hide-out for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and you’ll see why on our 84-mile journey.
This canyon is the perfect location for Youth Groups, where kids of all ages will enjoy the beauty of colorful canyon walls and natural rock sculptures created by Mother Nature. Many of the rapids on the Green River were named by explorer, Major John Wesley Powell in 1869.
- Deeper than the Grand Canyon at the Bright Angel Trail
- White sandy beaches, shimmering side streams and abundant wildlife
- 60 easy rolling rapids makes this trip great for kids
In 1968, Desolation Canyon was declared a National Historic Landmark. This area holds great interests for archeologists and modern-day explorers because of its long and notable history. Desolation Canyon is home to a wide range of extraordinary birds and wildlife. Archaeologists have studied the region for many years, uncovering rock art and petroglyphs left by the nomadic tribes who have called this area home over the centuries. Much of the rock art left by these tribes can still be viewed today.
One of the advantages of a river rafting vacation is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. It can vary widely from one white water trip to the next based on group desires, Mother Nature, and courtesy for other groups on the river. The itinerary below outlines a four-day trip through Desolation and Gray canyons. Our four-day white water rafting trip will follow this general itinerary.
Day 1: Meet group at Sand Wash, where we will begin our Green River rafting journey. A historical marker is located at the head of Desolation Canyon. We camp this evening near Gold Hole.
Day 2: We hike to Fremont Indian ruins to view ancient petroglyphs. Among the exciting whitewater rapids we navigate today is Steer Ridge Rapid. Tonight we camp on a mile-long sandbar or on one of the white sand beaches.
Day 3: Today, our youth group takes a side canyon hike up Rock Creek. We will also enjoy viewing extensive petroglyphs, and abandoned Rock Creek and McPherson Ranches, where Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch slept. The whitewater rapids grow larger each day, climaxing with the Belknap, Three Fords, and Coal Creek rapids. We leave Desolation and enter Gray Canyon.
Day 4: On Day 4, we will run a half dozen more whitewater rapids before lunch. After lunch, we take out near Swasey’s beach.
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!
Rafting Trip Meeting Options:
1. FLYING: The group will meet in Green River, Utah where we provide a shuttle to the airport, and then our group flies to the embarkation point. Cost for this charter flight is $133 per person. Meeting time is at 6:00 a.m. At the end of the trip we can shuttle your vehicles to Swasey’s ($45 per vehicle), which is the take-out point.
2. Groups who are providing their own transportation can drive into Sand Wash (between Duchesne and Roosevelt on Highway 40). This will require two-hours of driving on dirt roads, and should be done the day before the trip. There is a campground (pit toilets, no water) at Sand Wash, where the party can sleep the night before the trip. Meeting time is at 8:00 a.m. At the end of the trip, drivers can pick up the group at a pre-arranged take-out upstream from our Green River, Utah headquarters. This is a good option and the cheapest. If the organizers choose to arrange their own car shuttles for transportation, they will need our detailed map.
3. Groups can drive their vehicles to Sand Wash, and we can provide a shuttle to the take-out near Green River, Utah for $195 per vehicle. The vehicles will be waiting for you at Swasey’s (the take out point). Your vehicles should be filled with gas along with spare tires for the shuttle.
**Hwy. 40, Duchesne to Sand Wash, turn off (Green Sign) is 18 miles at US 40 5550 West.
**Hwy. 40, Roosevelt to Sand Wash, turn off is 11 miles at US 40 5550 West.
** Dirt roads to Sand Wash from Hwy. 40 are about 41 miles (two hours) . . . 5 miles of asphalt – 36 miles of dirt.
Beginning of the trip: On the morning of your trip, plan to arrive promptly at the predetermined time.
After the trip: The take-out point is Swasey’s and we should arrive there around 2 to 3 p.m. on the last day of our river rafting tour.
Medical emergencies: 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.
Cancellation Policy: 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.
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: 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.
Beverages: We provide ice water, lemonade and ample cooler space. If you choose to bring additional drinks we have no problem taking whatever you want to bring within reason.
Desolation canyon 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 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) 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 river 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.
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
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 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.