Cataract Canyon Stargazing Rafting Trip

This Cataract Canyon stargazing trip travels along the Colorado River through one of the most spectacular landscapes in the southwest. By day, float through sandstone spires, massive eroded cliffs, and towering buttes. At night, let your eyes tune in to the equally spectacular star-scape, visible in stunning clarity from the bottom of Canyonlands National Park, an International Dark Sky Park. This will be a star-studded trip, and not only because of the night sky. We’ll bring along our resident star expert, Tom Beckett, who’s on the board of the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City.

Cataract Canyon is famous for its whitewater. But the calm water that leads up to the rapids is special in its own way. The trip begins with an easy pace that is the perfect antidote to modern life. The first few days in the canyon invite quiet meditation and allow for plenty of solo paddling in inflatable kayaks or on stand-up paddleboards (SUPs). The flat water lets the suspense build. By the time we reach the rapids, you’ll be deeply in tune with the flow of the river, ready to ride out the big waves and steep drops.

Swim, play, and float your way through the heart of Canyonlands. Learn something about the world around you, whether you’re hiking to see ancient rock art or staring through binoculars at the Andromeda Galaxy. Join us for stargazing in Cataract Canyon.

Find out why Cataract is the king of Utah river trips. Read our Insider’s Guide here.

Green River, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

Featured Review:

“Couldn’t have asked for a better trip. A whole week of full excitement, and to spend it with such amazing people we have come to know and love. This trip has given me peace, and it’s helped me open myself to new possibilities. It’s changed me for the better. Thank you to all the guides at Holiday River Expeditions for making it possible to experience such a memorable trip. We look forward to many more trips with Holiday.” (Rachel Fuller)

Holiday is an authorized concessioner of Canyonlands National Park.  Additionally, (& more importantly) southern Utah’s canyon country was home to Indigenous people and cultures long before our modern society existed. Out of respect for these people, Holiday wishes to acknowledge that Cataract Canyon and the stretches of the Green and Colorado Rivers that approach it are the traditional homelands of the Pueblos and the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people. Read more about our land acknowledgments here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    Cataract Canyon - Canyonlands National Park

  • Length:

    6 Days

  • Dates:

    July 28 - August 2, 2024

  • Meet at:

    Green River, Utah @ 7:00 pm (night before the trip)

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Prices:

    $1,600 + $2 land use fee

  • Deposit:



  • Float through hard-to-access regions of Canyonlands National Park
  • Oar-powered rafts preserve the peace of the river corridor
  • See the Milky Way arcing above the steep canyon walls
  • Easy, calm water for stand-up paddleboards and paddling inflatable kayaks
  • Ride through walls of water down some of the biggest drops in North America
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates


There are two ways to approach Cataract Canyon. Most often we begin our trips on the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. The other option is to drive out the long dirt road to the put in at Mineral Bottom on the Green River. Either way, the Green and Colorado rivers meander quietly for over 40 river miles before meeting in solemn silence deep in the heart of Canyonlands National Park. This is where Cataract officially begins. Ride through 15 miles of rapids, and then settle in to the final stretch of calm water before taking out in the upper reaches of Lake Powell, near the old Hite Marina.

Sample Itinerary

Pre-trip meeting: Please plan to arrive at our Green River, Utah headquarters at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time the night before your trip. We’ll give you your waterproof bags and take care of preliminary business, making it easier to get on the river the next morning. This is a good time to purchase any last minute items at our on-site store (see our packing checklist for a list of items we carry). We also recommend that you drop off any personal beverages (beer, specialty soda, wine, etc.) at this time, so that we can keep them cold before packing them into our coolers.

Day 1:

Please arrive at the pre-arranged meeting time promptly with your bags packed and ready to go. We’ll load up into our vans for the 90-minute ride to the Mineral Bottom boat ramp on the Green River. The last two miles of the road descend steep switchbacks to the river. We’ll ask passengers to walk down the hill. It’s a great way to stretch your legs and get in a morning stroll, and it’s better for our vans to be lighter. Anyone not capable of walking may stay in the van. Once we’re all down, it’s river time! It’s a gentle float below the massive tabletop mesas and buttes of Stillwater Canyon. We’ll stop and hike at Fort Bottom, where we can visit an old prospector’s cabin, or climb the hill to an Ancestral Puebloan lookout tower.

Day 2:

Refresh yourself with a swim along the sandy-bottomed river, or start a playful water fight. The river is quiet here. It’s also perfect for practicing your balance on a stand-up paddleboard. We may stop for a hike to a rock art panel, or perhaps check out the abandoned meander at Anderson Bottom. We’ll make camp on a massive sandbar island and enjoy the singularly rare experience of simply watching night fall.

Day 3:

Today we’ll do some hiking around Turks Head, a dramatic rock outcrop with rich cultural artifacts. Check out rock art and granaries (ancient food storage structures), then hop back in the river for some more swimming or paddling. Look up high on the canyon walls for reptilian footprints preserved in the sandstone. Watch downstream to see who spots the confluence with the Colorado River first. Some cultures believe this is the center of the universe.

Day 4:

Float silently as we push off into the current this morning. Feel your senses come alive without the distraction of conversation. Watch the red and white spires of The Doll House come into view, high above on the right-hand cliff. Hike a side canyon,  try your hand at paddling the inflatable kayak through rapids 1-4, or 6-10. Camp near rapid 10 and enjoy the white noise of the rapid as you fall asleep, dreaming of rapid day tomorrow!

Day 5:

It’s time for rapids! Watch as your guides take extra care rigging their boats this morning. Splash through Baseball Diamond, Upset, and Ben Hurt before arriving at the biggest of them all: the Big Drops. Thirty feet of elevation loss in three-quarters of a mile – cheering is encouraged as you’re in for a big ride! Once we pass through the Big Drops, we’re officially in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. But, this doesn’t mean the rapids are finished yet. We’ll run a few more rapids before pulling over for one final night sleeping by the river. Explore a side canyon reemerging from higher reservoir levels and enjoy steak for dinner as we celebrate our time passing through these canyons.

Day 6:

Relish one last cup of coffee on the beach before pushing off. The transition between river and reservoir means that the lower rapids are constantly changing. When the reservoir is low, the river channel carries on swiftly and we’ll row to the take out. When the reservoir is higher, the current is buried and we’ll get a motorized assist down the reservoir from our small “Seldom Seen” motorboat. Take in the last views of the unbelievably tall, smooth walls of the lower canyon before we float under the Hite Narrows Bridge and to the boat ramp. It’s a spectacular two-hour drive back to Green River for a return time of 5:00–6:00 p.m.

Please keep in mind that this is a sample itinerary and not an exact description of your trip. The intent is to give a general idea of what your trip may entail. Rest assured, if you’re not doing these things, it’s because you’re doing other amazing things! It’s why our motto is “Go With the Flow”!

Cataract Canyon Stargaze Slideshow 2

Six days allows plenty of time for exploring, and these canyons provide plenty of terrain to explore! Weather, the interests of our passengers, river flows, and available campsites mean that every trip will be unique. This is a SAMPLE itinerary for a trip starting on the Green River. For a sample itinerary for a trip that starts on the Colorado River, look here.


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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 11 reviews
 by Anonymous

We just finished the 6 day Cataract Canyon Stargazing trip and it exceeded our expectations! The beauty, the food, the campsites, and guides were incredible. We learned so much about the river and the geology around, and went on some amazing hikes. The rapids were insane and so much fun! All of the guides were knowledgeable, kind, fun, and professional. I have already recommended this trip to many, and will continue to so. Everyone should see what this amazing place has to offer, and everything Holiday River Expeditions does to give you an unforgettable experience. Highly highly recommend! We will be back for more!

 by Michael K

The office staff was very helpful before I booked when I had a lot of questions. They were great at answering my questions and that made me comfortable to book. I was hoping for a brief check-in prior to the trip, especially with COVID going on, but guess it was not really necessary as I could have just called. The information was very easy to search for and great photos and details on the trip. Everyone was great. I would like to acknowledge Susan, who was a phenomenal trip leader and very informative about the history and geology of the area. Rolf was amazing and fun as well. I can't say enough about all of the guides, but those were the two that I paddled with. Can't say enough good things about them and Susan was the best. I would request her if I do another trip! This was my first overnight raft trip and I could not be more impressed with Holiday River. The guides were phenomenal, the scenery breathtaking and everything was super organized. I read all of the reviews about how good the food was and had a hard time believing it, but it was amazing and something to look forward to. We even had a floating lunch that was fun to observe. I will be back.

 by Melissa Sale

We did a six day Cataract Canyon trip with Yoga, stand up paddle boarding (SUPing), and stargazing. Add this to the excitement of the rapids = an amazing trip! I had never been rafting or SUPing - but I will be doing this again! Holiday is THE best - this was a first class trip. The guides are incredibly kind, attentive and knowledgeable of the entire area, ensuring everyone has a wonderful time. Thank you Susan, Tyler, Sam, Josh and Rolf)! I know it's crazy - but the FOOD is out of this world. I was expecting typical camping food -- not gourmet meals 3x a day! The crew did a great job of accommodating some people in our group that had dietary restrictions. This is such a beautiful part of the world. We started planning our next trip before we even left the river! If you are considering a trip -- go with Holiday -- you will not be sorry!

 by Teresa Solak

Had a great time! Loved getting pampered by the guides :-) The Kayak was super fun and absolutely loved the star gazing!! Thanks Tom!!

 by Jamie McDermott

Amazing! We have many wonderful images from the trip!

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