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 FAQs

Rates & Dates

4 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,075
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $955
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $955
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $955
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2021
  • May
  • 12, 15, 19, 22, 24, 26, 28, 31

5 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,170
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $1,035
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $1,035
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $1,035
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2021
  • May
  • 17
  • June
  • 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 23, 26, 29

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:  
 91 reviews
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

by Todd and Jane Estes Jackson on Holiday River Expeditions

Karen in the office is always so friendly and helpful. The guides were outstanding, and so was the food. Susan and Dave are very knowledgeable about everything. Tyler was a great trip leader, and we enjoyed getting to know Jacqueline. This was our 7th trip with Holiday, and our 2nd time on the Yampa trip. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable vacation for us.

by Carl Sallee on Holiday River Expeditions

It was always very easy to work with Holiday and I really appreciated being able to call and always have the phone answered by a real person who knew how to help or answer my questions, every time! All of the above were absolutely incredible! I especially really enjoyed how the guides were not just there to rush us through the trip without interacting. They answered countless questions about geology, geography, ecology, and wildlife, and were enthusiastic about helping us have a trip of a lifetime, catered to the experiences we wanted to have! The overall experience was simply perfect. I want to give a special shout-out to our guides Tyler (trip leader), Susan, Jacqueline, and Dave. They were incredibly efficient and I loved hanging out with them. They were all like walking encyclopedias and were not just there to chauffeur us down the river; they interacted with us a lot and helped cater the experience to what we all wanted individually and as a group. It was clear how passionate all of them are for making the trip more than just a trip down the river, but a trip that inspired care for the environment, care for sacred places, and respect/wonder for the wild, beautiful world of the Colorado Plateau river systems. They worked incredibly hard and I always felt safe and taken care of in their hands. Other cherries on top besides the awe-inspiring scenery while floating include the amazing gourmet food, the thrilling white-water, and the large variety of side-experiences we got to enjoy, like sunrise hikes with world-class views, viewing rock art, fly fishing, and exploring caves.

by Pamela Moore on Holiday River Expeditions

This was our 2nd river trip with Holiday. We had another amazing time on the Yampa. Beautiful scenery, fun hikes and great weather. Thank you to our guides for the fantastic service and making us feel safe.

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