Intro to Overnight Rafting on the Colorado River

Calling all new adventurers! Join Holiday for an intro to an overnight rafting trip through Ruby Horsethief on the Colorado River. Maybe you’ve gone camping before, but are new to river life. Maybe you’ve been on the river but haven’t camped before. Maybe you have younger children that are ready to dip their toes in the water but you don’t want to commit to a longer trip with whitewater.  Whatever your experience level, this is the trip for you! We were all beginners at one time; our guides remember that and are here to make this trip easy for you. Join us for a three-day, two-night trip through Ruby and Horsethief Canyons where the water is calm, the campsites are splendid, and the beauty of the cliff walls is out of this world.

This 25-mile trip starts in southwestern Colorado just west of Colorado National Monument and slowly works its way back into Utah. This stretch of river welcomes us with stunning scenery and is teeming with wildlife! As we gently float downstream, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, river otters, cliff swallows, and bald eagles. The flat water is perfect to recline on a raft or try your hand paddling one of our inflatable kayaks or stand-up paddleboards (hint: you can also kneel or sit!). When you’re ready to stretch your legs, we’ll stop at one of the many side canyons to explore – hike to find a hidden arch or even an indigenous rock art panel.

Campsites are right along the river. Don’t worry if you’re new to camping, we have all the amenities to ensure you have a comfortable experience, even while in the backcountry! Once we arrive at camp and unload the boats, your guides will give you an orientation to camp – all questions are welcome here, from how to set up your tent to where to go to the bathroom, we’re here to help you through every step of the process! Your guides will handle all the logistics and make sure you’re well-fed in your home away from home, so you’ll have time to explore, relax, and play. As night settles, marvel at the beauty of the night sky – watch for shooting stars and admire the Milky Way. Southern Utah is known for its dark skies – perfect for stargazing. Drift to sleep with the sounds of the river’s current lulling you to sleep.

 

Getting into town early? See our local recommendations! Green River, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

Featured Review:
We have been going on Holiday River Trips for years, just me and my husband, but this year we brought our 5 year old son.  We were anxious but hopeful that he would love it as much as we do and the trip did not disappoint.  From arriving at the warehouse we were greeted by outgoing and friendly guides who allowed him to pull a wagon to “help” all over the property to adding our car seat to the van for our drive was not an issue at all and made all the difference in comfort and safety for him. He spent the next three days in and out of the river, mud, sand and boats. The guides were so accommodating to all of his requests to swim, row, have a snack and “help” set up camp. 
The food was delicious and kid friendly. He ate more on the river than he does at home. He slept well and loved camping out.  My husband and I also had a great time. We still got to swim, paddle, SUP and enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery. Would 100% recommend this trip for kids. ”  (Meghan Leaver)
With appreciation and respect for the Indigenous people who have lived on and cared for the rivers and canyons where we play, Holiday wishes to acknowledge that Ruby Horsethief Canyon is the traditional homeland of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people. Read more about our land acknowledgments here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Rafting

  • Location:

    Colorado River - Ruby Horsethief Canyon

  • Length:

    3 Days

  • Dates:

    July 18-20 & Aug 8-10

  • Meet at:

    Green River, Utah @ 8:00 am

  • Difficulty:

    Beginner

  • Min. Age:

    5

  • Deposit:

    400

Highlights

  • Play on stand-up paddleboards & inflatable kayaks in calm water
  • Kid friendly hikes and camps
  • Stunning wilderness canyon with fascinating geology
  • See bighorn, birds of prey, & otters
  • Learn about overnight rafting on a tranquil stretch of river
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

3 Day

  • Adult:
  • $645
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $595
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $595
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $595
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2023
  • July 18-20
  • Aug 8-10

Prices do not include a $4.00 per person fee added for Sovereign Lands

Itinerary

We begin our trip in Loma, Colorado, just east of the Utah-Colorado border. We’ll take three days to drift downstream through the brightly colored sandstone canyon walls of Ruby and Horsethief Canyons before crossing back into Utah and arriving at our take out, the Westwater Ranger station, a one hour drive back to Green River.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1:

Meet at our headquarters in Green River, Utah at 8:00 a.m., Mountain Time. We’ll set you up with your waterproof bags, and provide some pointers on how to pack them. This is the best time to buy items from our warehouse store as well (take a look at our packing checklist for a list of items we stock). Next we’ll load up into our vans for the two hour ride east to the put-in at Loma, Colorado. We may take a brief pit-stop to stretch our legs and see some rock art. Once we arrive at Loma, the guides will get our rafts into the water and loaded up. After a quick orientation to the rafts, the inflatable kayaks, and stand up paddleboards, we’re ready to begin our float! Welcome to Horsethief Canyon – watch as the Entrada and Wingate Sandstone canyon walls rise around us. We’ll make our way downstream, stopping to hike up a side canyon and have lunch by the river. After lunch, it’ll be a leisurely float to camp. Take in the scenery floating by, slide into the river for a swim, or start a water fight to keep cool! We’ll pull up to camp, possibly under some Cottonwoods and ease into camp life. Your guides will get you oriented to all things camp related! Then take time to frolic in the water, hike up a side canyon, or lounge and enjoy the experience. We’ll wow you with our camp cooking skills, and as night settles in, you may even get the chance to stargaze!

Day 2:

Wake up to the song of canyon wrens, or perhaps you’ll hear a hawk call as it flies through the canyon in search of its breakfast. Speaking of breakfast, wipe the sleep from your eyes and roll on down to the kitchen where your guides will have hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate waiting for you. Wait until you see what we’ve whipped up for your river front breakfast! After breakfast, we’ll break down our camp and load up the rafts for another day of exploring on the river! The geology today certainly won’t disappoint! Watch for the rattlesnake monocline as we leave Horsethief Canyon and enter Ruby Canyon. As we round Mee Corner, catch glimpses of Wingate Sandstone spires before casting your eyes downstream to a dramatic geologic nonconformity as 220-million year old rock lies directly on top of the 1.7-billion year old basement “black rocks.” Our camp tonight will be within these ancient black rocks. This area makes a perfect playground – explore among the rock outcroppings, take the paddleboard to some rock islands, or lace up your hiking shoes for a short but steep hike up to the rim for a stunning vista. Back at camp, listen for the sound of the California Zephyr, and be sure to give a boater’s greeting to the train as it passes by! Enjoy another marvelous camp dinner before tucking in for another night by the river.

Day 3:

Our last morning on the river will start with an interactive breakfast you won’t want to miss! We’ll push off and meander our way out of the Black Rocks, watch as they slink back below the surface of the water. We may stop near McDonald Creek to check out more rock art and learn about the Fremont Cultural group that resided here 1,000 years ago. After one final lunch on the river, we cross back into Utah and continue to follow the train tracks. The river widens and the canyon walls drop away, signifying our beautiful float is nearly coming to an end. We’ll arrive at the Westwater Ranger station for our take out around 1:00pm. Once we pull the rafts out, we’ll hop back in our vans for the one hour drive back to our Green River headquarters, arriving between 2:00-3:00pm.

 

As mentioned earlier, this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the exact trip you will experience. It is intended to give an idea of what the trip will be like, and could also be exactly what you do. Keep an open mind, be flexible, go with the flow, and enjoy!

Ruby Horsethief Canyon Sunrise against Black Rocks and Canyon Walls

One thing we love about river trips is the simplicity away from modern life. Along with that comes extra flexibility – each day can vary based on group desires, assigned campsites, weather, and other unpredictable elements. Your guides will keep you updated on daily plans.

 

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