Yampa River Rafting Trips
Yampa River White Water Rafting – About This Trip
The Yampa is WILD: the last un-dammed river in the Colorado River system. Despite attempts by the Bureau of Reclamation and Congress, the only 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.
Location: Yampa River - Dinosaur National Monument
Length: 4 and 5 Days
Dates: May - June
Meet At: Vernal, UT 8:00 AM
Age Min: 8
- 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
Trip Price & Departure Dates
Adult - $1,035
Youth/ Group/ Senior - $915
(18 & under) (10 or more) (65 & older)
Adult - $1,130
Youth/ Group/ Senior - $995
(18 & under) (10 or more) (65 & older)
+$27 NPS Fees per person.
2020 Trip Schedule
4 Day Trip Dates
May 13, 16, 20, 23, 27
5 Day Trip Dates
June 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 27
Rafting the Yampa River means riding the wild lifeblood of the whole Colorado River system. We join its currents at Deerlodge Park in northwestern Colorado and ride its waves till the confluence of the Green River; from there we meander through historic Whirlpool Canyon and cross the border into Utah. The quiet of Island Park prepares us for the final crescendo of Split Mountain before departing the river at the southern boundary of Dinosaur National Monument.
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. This sample itinerary illustrates a four-day trip on the Yampa River. In June, due to lower water levels, we lengthen the Yampa trip by one day and follow this general 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 35 minutes back to our warehouse in Vernal. We typically plan to arrive back at our headquarters by approximately 4:00 p.m.
Our five-day Yampa River trip follows the same general itinerary with minor changes depending on 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. On the third day your route will begin to resemble the four-day itinerary more closely.
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!