Yampa River Rafting Trips

Yampa River rafting is special because the Yampa is WILD. It is the last river in the Colorado River system that is not regulated by a dam. Despite attempts by the Bureau of Reclamation and Congress, the only major dam ever constructed on the Yampa River was built by Mother Nature. And even that was temporary. On June 9th, 1965, a massive flash flood and debris flow carried thousands of tons of rock down Warm Springs Draw, completely blocking the river channel. The river slowed upstream of the obstruction, and the current snarled and boiled and pushed against the debris. It took only 24 hours for the river to breach the natural dam, leaving in its wake Warm Springs Rapid, rated as one of the 10 biggest drops in the country. Dee Holladay himself was one of the first to run the newly formed rapid.

Every May and June this whitewater river rises to the occasion. The Yampa CRANKS with consistent rapids, fast-moving current, and plenty of full-bodied waves from the first day to the last. Like many wild things, the Yampa River also has a serene side: sheer, tiger-striped walls that rise over 1,000 feet to the canyon rim; the liquid darkness of the night sky strewn with stars; sandy campsites among junipers and ponderosa pines; side-canyon waterfalls; and Fremont Indian rock art. If you feel the need for something rare, something wild and free, the Yampa is waiting.

Read more: Insider’s Guide to Whitewater Rafting on the Yampa River

Featured Review:

“I have never been on a whitewater trip before and I took the Yampa River trip in June with my son as a graduation gift for him. Words cannot describe how impressed we were with everything. From the greeting/introductions we received at Vernal headquarters to the instructions prior to getting in the river, the guides were friendly and professional. We went to see soaring canyon walls and whitewater and we got that. But what we also got was gourmet food preparation (WOW) and informed guides—they knew about everything, trees, rocks, history, wildlife, all of it! Most important, it was clear that the safety of their guests was always on their minds. This is an excellent outfitter and there is no rival. We’ll be back.” (Victor Rodriguez)

The Yampa River flows through the traditional homeland of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people. With great respect and appreciation, Holiday acknowledges the Indigenous people who lived in and cared for these lands long before the Yampa was set aside as a place only to be visited. You can read more about our land acknowledgements initiative here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Rafting

  • Location:

    Yampa River - Dinosaur National Monument

  • Length:

    4 and 5 Days

  • Dates:

    May–June

  • Meet at:

    Vernal, Utah @ 8:00 am

  • Difficulty:

    Intermediate

  • Min. Age:

    8

  • Deposit:

    300

Highlights

  • Truly wild rapids fed by seasonal snow melt
  • Endless winding bends of dramatic striped canyon walls
  • Abundant wildlife in a beautiful and healthy ecosystem
  • Many inflatable kayak-friendly rapids
  • Float through seldom-seen corners of Dinosaur National Monument
  • See the Milky Way in this International Dark Sky Park
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

4 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,110
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $990
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $990
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $990
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2022 (pending NPS approval)
  • May
  • 11, 14, 18, 21, 23, 25, 30

5 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,205
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $1,070
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $1,070
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $1,070
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2022 (pending NPS approval)
  • May
  • 16
  • June
  • 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 25

Itinerary

The Yampa River flows west out of the mountains near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and into the wild recesses of Dinosaur National Monument in northwestern Colorado. It winds through spectacular canyons and countless rapids for 47 miles before flowing into the Green River at Steamboat Rock. From there, the rivers flow together, across the state line into Utah and through the unique landscapes of Whirlpool and Split Mountain canyons.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1:

Please arrive at Holiday’s headquarters in Vernal, Utah, at 8:00 a.m., Mountain Time. We will issue your waterproof bags, show you how to pack them, and give you time to buy any last minute items from our on-site store (see our packing checklist for items you can find at our store). From Vernal, it’s a 90-minute van ride to the put-in at Deerlodge Park in Colorado. After preparing the rafts and getting you oriented, we’ll push off and begin to move on river time. We’ll enter Yampa Canyon almost immediately, and encounter several fun, splashy rapids. Lunch may be on a beach near a historic cabin. Make camp and fall asleep to the sound of rushing water.

Day 2:

Hike to a wide cave where ancient indigenous people left signs of their presence. Follow the river’s entrenched meanders past the 1,200-foot Grand Overhang. Listen for the screech of hunting peregrine falcons that nest on the canyon rim. Carefully kiss the Tiger Wall: it’s sure to bring good luck for your run through Warm Springs Rapid, the biggest of the trip.

Day 3:

This morning may include a silent float as we approach the confluence with the Green River at Echo Park. Dip your toes into the place where the rivers meet and watch the different colored-water flow side by side for a surprising distance. The geology changes dramatically as we float through the Mitten Park Fault and into Whirlpool Canyon. Spend the afternoon at Jones Hole Creek: fishing, hiking, petroglyphs, big horn sheep, and waterfalls are all possibilities.

Day 4:

Choose to paddle an inflatable kayak through the last several miles of calm water in Island Park. We’ll follow the river as it makes a sharp left turn and cuts its way into the aptly named Split Mountain. The river drops an average of almost 20 feet per mile for the last eight miles. Enjoy your last several rapids before we pause for lunch and finally arrive at the boat ramp. We’ll load the boats and then transport you the final 25 minutes back to our warehouse in Vernal. We typically plan to arrive back at our headquarters by approximately 4:00 p.m.

Please remember that this is a sample itinerary, not an exact description of your trip. Our goal is simply to give you an overview of what the trip may entail. We invite you to embrace the inherent changeability of a wilderness river trip and come prepared to have fun and go with the flow!

We say the Yampa is WILD, and it is. Each trip will be different depending on weather, the interests of our passengers, assigned campsites, and the need to be considerate of other river users.

Our five-day Yampa River trips follow the same general itinerary with minor changes depending on assigned campsites and water flows. Your second day may not yet find you at an ancestral site but rather on a hike to a stunning overlook or historic cave. You’ll encounter the Tiger Wall and Warm Springs Rapid on the third day, and meet the Green River on the fourth. Day five will take you through Island Park and finish with Split Mountain.

Reviews

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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 94 reviews
by Tom Chelew on Holiday River Expeditions

Holiday Expeditions sets the bar for excellence when it comes to guides, equipment, and food!! Thank you for an amazing trip! I will be back for more fun!!

by Mark and Lynn Peesel on Holiday River Expeditions

The guides were thoughtful, caring, professional, genuine, good boaters, and fun. They were tuned in to the needs of the group. I also liked watching them help one another as needed. I highly recommend going on a trip with Holiday. Each part of the trip was great-- from the river, to hikes, to meals to time in camp. We had a wonderful time!

by Richard and Georgeanne Croft on Holiday River Expeditions

Karen Johnson is amazing! For 30 yrs she has helped us secure wonderful trips. This year ( and last) she went above and beyond again to change our trip at the last minute due to low water. Everyone on our trip agreed it was the best ever! The guides were all fantastic! I have rafted with Holiday for 30 years and cannot say enough about what a wonderful and amazing group of people they are. Karen in the Salt Lake City office has gone above and beyond for us for decades of trips. She coordinates, rearranges, and makes sure every request is communicated to the guides. She does it all with a wonderfully positive attitude. The guides we have had are always top-notch. They are friendly, accommodating, knowledgeable, and helpful on the river in so many ways. The food is out of this world. Plenty of fruits, vegetables, and wonderful meals that seem to pop out of those black pots. We have brought so many friends along with us over the years and every last one has said that is was the best trip they have ever taken. I would recommend only Holiday for all your rafting trips. We plan to keep rafting for years to come!!

by Valerie Vanlsburg on Holiday River Expeditions

This was our first time on the Yampa and our 8th year with Holiday. The Yampa was spectacular! Lots of whitewater. Larkin was a great trip leader as usual. We feel like the repeat river guides are like our second family and love meeting new river guides. If you want to escape from the real world and you love camping this is the best way to completely unplug.

by Tim Evans on Holiday River Expeditions

All gear worked well however, next time I will bring my own air mattress for a little extra Cush. Love the guides ! Each brought something special to the trip and were always helpful. Being a guide is not easy, on duty 24 hours a day. They made everything work smoothly.



Food was outstanding and always enough. This trip easily exceeded my expectations , everything went off without a hitch.



The guides were wonderful, food was amazing



The wildness and scenic beauty of the Yampa has filled my soul with much joy

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