Lodore Canyon Stargazing Trip

Stargazing trips in Lodore Canyon combine the best of the day with the splendors of the night. Float straight through the heart of Dinosaur National Monument, an International Dark Sky Park. Lodore provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a quality of dark sky that exists only in isolated pockets in remote corners of the United States.

During the day, we’ll navigate translucent green water through class II–IV rapids. We’ll hike through dark red cliffs and lounge on white, sandy beaches. At night, we’ll watch the sky come alive. See the Milky Way rise in a brilliant arc. Spot satellites and meteors, learn the stories of the constellations, and seek out the Andromeda Galaxy, both with binoculars and naked eyes. We time our stargazing trips to coincide with the new moon for maximum darkness, and we bring along our resident star expert, Tom Beckett, to guide our eyes. Our Lodore Canyon stargazing trips are truly unforgettable experiences.

Vernal, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

Featured Review:

“This trip was excellent. The scenery was amazing; I was constantly craning my neck to take in the views of colorful cliffs and ever-changing rock formations. I was surprised at the variety of wildlife we saw: bighorn sheep drinking from the river just yards from our boat, deer wandering through camp, geese swimming alongside us, and flying right overhead. Also, I loved the inflatable kayaks. Paddling alongside the rafts and playing in the rapids was a highlight. The food was unbelievable: appetizers and freshly made gourmet food for every meal. On top of all this, we had three exceptional guides who made the trip what it was.” (Jeremy Peterson)

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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    Lodore Canyon - Dinosaur National Monument

  • Length:

    4 Days

  • Dates:

    June 29 - July 2

  • Meet at:

    Vernal, UT @ 7:00 pm (night before the trip)

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Deposit:



  • Camp within the darkest reaches of an International Dark Sky Park
  • Learn from Holiday's resident astronomy expert
  • Exhilarating Class III & IV whitewater rapids
  • Brilliantly exposed and highly varied geology
  • Soft sandy beaches for camping & games
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates


The Green River carves its way into Lodore Canyon at the north end of Dinosaur National Monument, then flows south toward its confluence with the Yampa River in the aptly named Echo Park. Here it turns west into Whirlpool Canyon, crossing the border into Utah. Island Park is the last mellow stretch before the final eight miles of rapids in Split Mountain.

Sample Itinerary

The night before your trip: Meet at our Vernal warehouse at 7:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). We will hand out dry bags and any rented sleep kits, collect personal drinks and tents, answer questions, go over final trip details and make sure we’re ready to go bright and early the next morning.

Day 1:

Come back to our Vernal warehouse bright and early. We’ll quickly load your packed gear into the boat and be on our way. Our day starts with a three-hour scenic van ride to Brown’s Park National Wildlife Refuge, the site of the boat put in. Shortly after we launch, we’ll pass through the Gates of Lodore and encounter John Wesley Powell’s notoriously named Disaster Falls. At camp, after dinner, watch the sun fade from the walls and observe which planetary objects become visible first. Is that a star, or a planet?

Day 2:

Dark, red walls of billion-year-old rock tower above us as we float deeper into the canyon. Look for big horn sheep and osprey in between rapids. Today we’ll run some of the most exciting rapids of the trip, including Harp Falls, the narrowest part of the canyon. After lunch, relax on the beach, hike to the Rippling Brook waterfall, or take a nap, so you can stay up late and watch the rise of the Milky Way while learning about our cosmos.

Day 3:

The geology changes this morning as we leave Lodore Canyon and enter the blonde sandstone of Echo Park, where the Green and Yampa rivers meet. Count how many times your voice echos back to you, then enjoy a hike to 800-year-old rock art. We’ll pass through the dramatic Mitten Park Fault and camp somewhere within Whirlpool Canyon. Use binoculars or a telescope to hunt for the Andromeda Galaxy or the Beehive Nebula.

Day 4:

 A few splashy rapids will be our send-off as we exit Whirlpool Canyon and float into Island and Rainbow parks. The river meanders through groves of cottonwood trees and sculpted sandstone before entering yet another colorful gorge. Split Mountain is our grand finale as we follow the Green River through the heart of the mountain, running Moonshine, SOB, School Boy, and Inglesby rapids. We’ll have lunch on the river, then make our way to the Split Mountain boat ramp and our take-out point. It’s a 35-minute ride back to Vernal. We usually anticipate our return to headquarters close to 4:00 p.m.

This is only a sample itinerary, intended to provide a general idea of what to expect from your river trip. It is not an exact description of what you will experience. Holiday’s motto is “Go With the Flow,” and we invite you to embrace the expeditionary nature of a wilderness river trip. Keep an open mind and enjoy your own unique adventure!

Lodore Canyon Rocky Rowing Whitewater

Every river trip we run is a one-of-a-kind adventure. Our itineraries vary depending on the interests of the group, the campsites we are assigned, weather, and other unpredictable elements. This is one possible itinerary for a four-day stargazing trip through Lodore Canyon.


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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 14 reviews
 by Alex Capobianco

The trip was absolutely incredible! Emily is so wonderful and such a great guide. She goes above and beyond to make everyone have a wonderful time. Sienna is so sweet and funny, she was a great guide, and her head stands are spot on.

 by Barb Fetters

Lodore Canyon trip was incredible: geology and scenery, guides (Ben and Spencer) and their knowledge of the area, skills, attention to safety and the environment, opportunities to hike, use the inflatable kayaks etc. I would highly recommend this trip.

 by Kathi Quinn

An absolute cool bucket list adventure!

 by Sara Husby

My expectations were exceeded on the food! All the meals were great!

 by Sheri Carpenter

Karen and Jesse were extremely helpful in handling our reservation, and providing pre-trip information, and Jacqueline was enthusiastic in providing information about the guides who would be on our trip. The overall service and responsiveness provided by Holiday was EXCEPTIONAL!

Before and after booking our trip, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I visited your website during the nine months leading up to our adventure. I was able to easily find information pertaining to our specific trip, but I also found other important details and recommended reading lists (THANK YOU, SUSAN MUNROE!). When all was said and done, I felt totally prepared for our excursion and comfortable with what we might experience and should anticipate.

I have to admit being extremely impressed by the rental gear provided by Holiday River Expeditions. My family has a collection of camping and backpacking gear (most of it new due to a recent Grand Canyon experience), but we didn't want to carry it with us for this trip due to extended excursions on the front and back end of our rafting trip (primarily due to limited luggage space). That led us to the decision to rent gear from Holiday, and all I can say is "WOW!" We loved our Alps Mountaineering two-man tent, our North Face rain gear, and especially the thick foam sleeping pads that made every night much more comfortable than we would have EVER imagined.

Not only did all of the above aspects meet our expectations, but they EXCEEDED them. Each and every one of our guides brought something unique to the table. Cloud was an impressive Trip Leader (it was SO MUCH FUN being with her on the lead raft going through Hell's Half Mile!), Sherpa was simply amazing in the manipulation of his boat through Split Mountain Canyon and being in tune with the geology and wildlife (because of him, we saw Bald Eagles and a moose that we might not have seen otherwise), Brian was fun and entertaining (I'll never forget the monkey scene at Compromise with the children), Tom was extremely fascinating (we really enjoyed staying up late at night and absorbing his knowledge and sharing tales of Greek mythology), Ty was patient and kind (especially on our hike to Rippling Brook, after I had exhausted myself from numerous back-and-forth trips through thick sand from the group campsite to my own tent), and Ben was simply hilarious (LOVED the omelet game show, not to mention several other special moments). And that's just speaking for the guides! Our hikes and activities were everything we had hoped for, and more; the food was PHENOMENAL (I honestly don't know how y'all do it - the perfectly cooked steak and crispy/crunchy Pineapple Upside Down Cake were AMAZING, as was everything else); and we loved riding with Drake on the three-hour journey to the put-in, listening to some really nice tunes along the way and pondering the Mormon Crickets on the highway.

This trip was one of the most incredible adventures of my entire life (and I've had a few). The beauty of the canyons, the mind-boggling geography, the wildlife we encountered, the solitude and quiet we experienced (even in a group setting), the sense of being "out there" in a region with limited access, and the professionalism and expertise of the Holiday guides only left me wanting for more. I went on this trip with my daughter, 27 years after having done it with my best friend, and I plan to return next year with my husband. I simply cannot get enough of Holiday River Expedition's journey through the Gates of Lodore!

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