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 and 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)

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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

Rates & Dates

4 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,035
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $915
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $915
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $915
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2020
  • May
  • 13, 16, 20, 23, 25, 27
  • June
  • 1

5 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,130
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $995
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $995
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $995
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2020
  • May
  • 18
  • June
  • 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 27

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.

Typical 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:  
 83 reviews
by Kathy & Vaughn Salls on Holiday River Expeditions

Karen Johnson was amazing. I had many questions and calls because I was very nervous about this trip but she handled them all and put me at total ease. Guides were excellent and went above and beyond to ensure everything was taken care of. Food was excellent also. My husband and I brought our granddaughters on this trip and I will say this is the first vacation that completely met every expectation. From the planning assistance to the guides, equipment, food, all was as promised. Thank you Holiday!

by Jody & Timothy Olsen on Holiday River Expeditions

All the above exceeded our expectation! Omg, how to put into words how awesome this experience was. The guides (Dave, Em, Jack, Sherpa, and Vicki) went WAY over and above to make our experience memorable! Met some super awesome folks in our group.



The meals were over the top!!! I loved every moment lol despite the mosquitoes.

by Jody olsen on Holiday River Expeditions

We are from Vermont. Never been out west. Enjoyed EVERYTHING about this experience💕!!!! From our arrival to Holiday Rivers base and meeting all the guides, including Herm. Our guides Dave, Em, Jack, Vicki, and Sherpa were so awesome!!!!!!! Keeping us informed about the history of the river. They also always had great meals and so much fun on the water!!!! Water fights were awesome. I loved Signature cave and butt dam falls, but everything was perfect! Hard to say what was my fav.. Met so many. fantastic new friends as well!! This was a trip I will NEVER forget, and would do again in a heartbeat!! Thank you Dave, Sherpa,Jack,Em, and Vicki!!!!! Vicki remember YOU ROCK😎!

by Lorna Stroll on Holiday River Expeditions

We just completed a five day Yampa River expedition from June 3-7. While the majestic cliffs and the both serene and chaotic river consistently speak for themselves, it was the dream team crew that made confident river competence & safety. They were both knowledgeable & thoughtful in response to questions about the environment around us. The guides could set up and take down a complete kitchen, living room, and bathroom from raft to campsite in 20 minutes.All were great cooks, and expressed sensitive people skills towards both guests and each other. The result was that we felt like a family out together on a wonderful adventure.

by John Hornor on Holiday River Expeditions

: Everything was clean and in great condition Jesse was awesome. In fact, all personnel and the food were excellent My son and I had a wonderful trip. The entire staff did a great job and prepared excellent meals considering the nature of the set up and tear down every day.

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