Holiday River Expeditions FAQs

Bookings and Cancellations

How do I choose a trip that’s right for me?

There are several factors to consider. First of all, when do you want to go? We offer trips from late April through early October. Early season trips will be cooler, and you’re more likely to experience high water. Mid-summer is hot and sunny, which is great for swimming. Fall has the most stable weather along with lower water and cooler temperatures. Consider the ages and ability levels of people in your group. Early season or high water trips frequently have a higher minimum age requirement, and may not be a good choice for individuals with health issues. How many days do you want to be on a trip? We offer trips from 2 to 8 days in length. Where do you want to go? We have an excellent collection of Insider’s Guides for each trip that can help you decide which trip is the most appealing to you, or feel free to call our office. Our reservation staff excels at matching guests with unforgettable trips.

Also consider the type of craft you’re interested in. Most of our trips are great for kicking back and relaxing in an oar raft (in which only the guide does the rowing). Occasionally we can offer trips with paddle rafts, in which all passengers have paddles and work as a team to move downstream. A paddle raft requires 6 to 8 guests who are willing to paddle all day, through both the rapids and calm sections. Some trips are great for paddling our inflatable kayaks, whereas others are better for stand-up paddleboards. We frequently bring both on certain sections, and guests are able to trade off using them throughout the day. Using these crafts in rapids is up to the discretion of the trip leader. Check out our Impeccable Gear page for photos of each of these crafts.

Can you accommodate someone who is traveling by themselves?

Yes! We have lots of people who come by themselves. In some cases arrangements can be made to share a rental car with another person or group that is going on the same trip. Occasionally we will also offer a trip specifically for solo travelers. For 2020, we’re offering a 6-day trip through Cataract Canyon, August 31–September 5.

What kind of people are on the trip?

This will depend entirely on your specific trip. Certain trips attract certain demographics. We have trips for everyone, from families with young children, all the way up to more advanced trips for serious adventure-seekers. Most of our trips include a mix of solo guests, couples, families, and groups of friends. We can also organize private charter trips for groups of 18 and up. Every year we also offer a selection of specialty trips to appeal to people with specific interests, including stargazing trips, yoga retreats, and trips with historians or naturalists. Generally speaking, you should come prepared to meet people that are looking for the same thing you are: a great adventure vacation!

How far in advance do I need to make my reservation?

Although we can find some trips to accommodate last minute reservations, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that the exact trip you wanted might already be booked or removed from our calendar. For that reason, we recommend booking as far in advance as you can. That will give you the maximum dates and trips available to choose from, and allow you to have plenty of time to plan for your travel arrangements and hotel reservations. This is especially true if you know you have only a small window of time in which to take your trip.

What if the trip I want is full?

Luckily for you we have many areas we operate across the Utah and Colorado region. This means depending on your date flexibility, the age of your group, the length and type of trip you want, there is a good chance we will have a fantastic trip alternative to offer you. Obviously the odds go up the earlier you’re able to confirm your trip!

Do you guarantee all departures?

We cannot guarantee that every trip listed on our online calendar will happen. Departures are mainly dependent on the minimum number of people booking a given trip. Any trip needs at least four guests to make it possible to run. Occasionally we have to remove trips from our calendar before anyone has booked on them because of logistical limitations of our guides or gear. If you are interested in a given date, make sure to call us as soon as possible to let us know that you’re serious about booking. We can place a tentative reservation for you and your group as we plan our upcoming season. The more we know ahead of time, the easier it is to plan to accommodate your needs!

What is the minimum number of guests needed to guarantee a departure?

Our trips require four full-paying guests to guarantee that we will be able to run the trip.

How much of a deposit do I need to make?

All trips require a $300 per person deposit to reserve your seat on the trip.

How can I make payments?

All deposit payments can be made by check or credit card. Additionally, we have an online booking page or are happy to help you confirm the trip over the phone at 1.800.624.6323. Your final payment is due by check and can be mailed to our main office at 544 E 3900 S, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84107.

When is my final payment due?

Your final payment is due 60 days from your trip departure date.

What is Holiday’s cancellation and refund policy?

If cancellations are made prior to 90 days before the trip, monies will be refunded less a $50.00 service charge per person. If cancellations are made within 90 days and outside of 60 days of the trip date, monies will be refunded less a $100.00 service charge per person. Cancellations made within 60 days of the trip date are nonrefundable. Prior to 60 days to the trip date we will transfer reservations to another trip in the same year with a $25.00 service charge per person. All policies will be enforced and we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance.

Do you offer cancellation insurance?

Holiday does not offer trip insurance, however, medical evacuation and cancellation insurance can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. You are responsible for these potential expenses and we strongly encourage all guests to have this coverage. We recommend plans by TRAVEL GUARD that cover evacuation, baggage, and cancellation claims. To get a quote follow this link.  It is available to American and Canadian citizens, as well as citizens of another country as long as you have a U.S. address. If you have questions give us a call. Also, if you are bringing expensive cameras, binoculars, or other items we suggest you have insurance coverage for them (commonly available through homeowner’s policies). In the event of a loss, our insurance will not cover those items.

What happens if Holiday cancels a trip?

Cancellation of a trip is very unlikely, but we do reserve the right to cancel any trip due to river or weather conditions or the lack of sufficient reservations. If Holiday cancels the trip, a full refund will be made.

Gratuities

What is an appropriate amount to tip the guides?

From sunup to sundown your guides strive to make your trip unforgettable. It is customary (and greatly appreciated) to tip your guides, especially if you feel they have been instrumental in the success of the trip. A suggested gratuity range is from $20.00 to $30.00 per guest, per day (about 10% of trip costs).

Who should I give the tip to?

Please direct your gratuity to the trip leader in the form of cash or check made out to the trip leader. They will then distribute it evenly to the other crew members. Please do not make tip checks out to Holiday River Expeditions. Thank you!

Group Bookings and Charters

What is the maximum group size for your trips?

Holiday trips are generally limited to 25 guests (plus 5 to 6 guides), although trips frequently have fewer guests. Labyrinth Canyon trips are limited to 20 guests; White Rim trips are limited to 12 guests; Maze trips are limited to 7; Maze Plateau trips are limited to 12.

What is the minimum number of people needed to charter a trip?

Most trips require a minimum of 18 people for a charter.

Can I book an entire trip just for my family/friends/coworkers?

Absolutely! A river trip is a great way to bond during a family reunion, celebrate a milestone birthday or run a corporate bonding retreat. Talk to a reservationist today or visit our custom charter trips page.

How can I get my friends booked on the same trip as me?

After you’ve made your booking, call our office so that we can make a note in our reservation system with your friend’s names. Our reservationists will wait for their call!

Are there any discounts for groups?

Yes, we have group discounts for 10 or more people on the rafting trips and 8 or more people on a mountain bike trip. For large charter groups, the group organizer goes free when they have 20 paid guests in their group. 

Physical and Health Requirements (Guest Responsibilities)

What if there is a medical situation on the trip?

Holiday’s guides are trained in first aid and CPR. We bring a major first aid kit on each trip, stocked with ample supplies to handle most first aid situations. We also carry various satellite devices and cell phones that we can use in emergencies to contact outside assistance. Although these are great tools, they (like most electronic devices) are not always reliable. Additionally, remote and deep canyon environments can limit connectivity for these tools.

What if I don’t know how to swim?

Many of our trips are appropriate for people who can’t swim, although you must be capable of performing a certain level of self-rescue behaviors, such as kicking in a direction while in the water, reaching for a throw rope or raft, etc. We provide a U.S. Coast Guard–approved personal floatation device (PFD, or life jacket) that everyone is required to wear in the rapids, while using personal crafts (such as inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddleboards), and while swimming. You may also choose to wear your PFD in the calm sections of the river. Speak to one of our reservationists to discuss which trips would be best for your particular interests and comfort level.

Can I bring a CPAP machine?

Yes. We have had guests bring CPAP machines in the past. You need to bring a travel style machine along with your own solar recharging system or enough battery power to last however many days you need.  There are a number of products out there. Please call our office to confirm that what you plan to bring will work on our trips

Food

What should I do if I have a dietary restriction or food allergy?

Please be sure to fill out your guest data sheet completely and return it to us more than 30 days before your trip. You may also wish to speak to our office staff to discuss the details of your specific restriction or allergy. Consider packing your own snacks and specific supplements; our office staff can give you more ideas of what we can and cannot accommodate.

Holiday’s standard menu provides diverse, balanced meal options with plenty of fresh food and many ways to meet a variety of dietary needs. Although we are able to accommodate many specific dietary restrictions, it is important that you recognize the limitations of a backcountry kitchen in a wilderness setting, and that you are forthcoming with us about dietary needs that are medical necessities versus preferences. It is also imperative that you complete your guest data form and return it to us with plenty of notice so that we can make the necessary arrangements. Dietary needs communicated to us less than 30 days before your trip are extremely difficult to accommodate.

We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by our menu offerings, but if you have specific concerns or restrictions, please speak to our office reservation staff, complete your guest data form, and return it to us more than 30 days before your trip.

What kind of beverages do you provide? Can I bring my own drinks?

We provide ice water, lemonade/gatorade, one soda or sparkling water per day per person, and ample cooler space for personal drinks. In the mornings we also provide coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. If you choose to bring any specialty sodas and/or alcoholic beverages, we have no problem taking whatever you want to bring, within reason. Please don’t bring beer, wine coolers, or sodas in glass containers. Wine packaged in a box is ideal. Mark the beverages that you bring so they are easy to find. In the state of Utah, wine and liquor are not sold after 7:00 p.m., before 11:00 a.m., or on Sundays and holidays. Options in the town of Green River, specifically, are very limited.

Desolation Canyon trips please note: because of the limited space on the charter flight we must limit the amount of extra beverages you carry with you on the plane. If you intend to bring less than one 18-pack, simply bring the beverages with you on the plane. For larger quantities, please bring your drinks to our headquarters in Green River on the day before the trip before 2 p.m. If that is not feasible, contact our office at least one month prior to your trip to make alternative arrangements.

Lower & full San Juan trips please note: Alcoholic beverages will need to be purchased prior to your arrival in Blanding because it is a dry town.

What kind of snacks do you provide? Can I bring my own food or snacks?

In addition to our main meals, we pack an assortment of granola bars, fruit snacks, and trail mix. Feel free to bring your own snacks, especially if you have a dietary restriction or allergy. Please note that we have limited cooler space for food; we can provide storage space for non-perishable snacks. Please make sure that you do not store your snacks in your personal gear overnight to prevent animals from being attracted to your bags.

What will we eat on the trip?

So many things, and all of them delicious! Check out “The Feast” for some mouth-watering examples.

Traveling with Children

What activities are provided for children?

There are many activities that are directed toward children. Our guides are experts in the history of the area with great stories of outlaws and explorers that seem to catch children’s attention. We pack toys on most of our trips (for both kids and the young at heart), such as Frisbees, horseshoes, washers, and footballs. At camp, we’ll occasionally set up volleyball “nets” along with other camp games such as ammo can tug-of-war. Along the rivers, sandy beaches are a stage for many activities from building sand castles and mud creations. Hikes are also very exciting and entertaining for children of all ages—they will see things that were created many years ago by early Native American inhabitants, or more recently by western explorers. Water fights always seem to erupt when children are around, too. 

What are the best trips for young children?

Holiday trips make wonderful family vacations. We offer trips in Desolation Canyon and on the San Juan River for children as young as five years old. Our reservationists can help you find the trip that is best for your family.

We have young kids. Are there any age limits?

Yes, we do have minimum age recommendations for our trips:

5 years old for beginner level trips (San Juan River, Desolation Canyon, Fisher Towers, Labyrinth Canyon)

8 years old for intermediate level trips (Yampa River, Lodore Canyon, Cataract Canyon [low water], Westwater Canyon)

16 years old for expert level trips (high water Cataract Canyon)

Our bike trips also have a minimum age recommendation of 12 years old.

Packing

What should I do with my jewelry?

It’s best NOT to bring any jewelry or other small items that you would be sad to lose. Rings, in particular, can sometimes get pulled off of fingers while getting in and out of the rafts. We also suggest leaving your watch behind: embrace the freedom of “river time”!

What should I do with extra luggage?

The best place for extra luggage is locked in your car; however, we do have non-secure storage locations at our Green River and Vernal headquarters if your car is not an option.

How do I pack my dry bags?

First, think of your dry bags as if you’re packing to go on an airplane. Your large dry bag is your checked luggage, for anything that you don’t need access to during the day. Your small dry bag is your carry-on luggage, and you’ll take it with you on and off the rafts during the day. We’ll issue you these bags when we meet the morning of your trip (or the evening prior for certain trips) and show you how to securely seal them.

If you’ve arrived with suitcases or backpacks, you should take your stuff out of that rigid luggage and put it directly into the dry bags. This lets you utilize all of the space in the dry bag more efficiently. Stuff sacks or plastic bags work really well to organize smaller gear like underwear and toiletries within the larger dry bag. You can also check out a sweet packing “how-to” video here.

What gear is provided with the trip?

You’ll be issued two dry bags: a large one for your clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and other things you’ll only need at camp, and a small one that you’ll have access to during the day for things like sunscreen, camera, rain jacket, hiking shoes, and snacks. We also provide a U.S. Coast Guard–approved personal floatation device (PFD or life jacket), kitchen supplies and utensils (we do NOT provide personal cups for drinking hot morning beverages or evening cocktails), and a camp chair for each person.

Is there a way to charge electronic devices while on the trip?

No. Occasionally guests will bring small solar panels and inverters to charge their own devices, but our recommendation is simply to leave the electronics behind and embrace the magic of being truly disconnected.

Can I bring a camera?

Yes, although we are not able to assume any responsibility for loss or damage that may occur on the trip. We suggest bringing a waterproof protective case.

Can I bring fishing gear?

You sure can! The majority of our trips are ill-suited to fly fishing, but you’re welcome to bring your spinning rod. If fly fishing is your passion, be sure to ask our reservationists about trips in Lodore Canyon or on the Yampa River. You will need to acquire the appropriate fishing licenses (issued by the states of Utah and Colorado) before your trip. Also make sure to pack your rod in a protective case.

Can I bring my own PFD (personal floatation device) or life jacket?

We are required to outfit all of our guests with a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type V PFD. If you have your own Type V PFD, you may bring it to the meeting point for your trip. Our operations manager and/or your trip leader will make the final determination of whether you may bring it on the trip. We are not able to allow our guests to wear their own Type III paddling PFDs unless they are a part of a specific, pre-organized kayaking trip.

Do I need a wetsuit?

For most of our trips, the weather will be hot and sunny and the water will be warm enough that you’ll be comfortable in shorts and bathing suits.

On early season trips on the Yampa River and in Westwater Canyon, or on high-water trips in Cataract Canyon, you may wish to have a wetsuit. Feel free to bring your own, if you have one, otherwise we will provide “Farmer John” (short legs and tank-top style) wetsuits when applicable.

What should I bring? What should I NOT bring?

Please read our packing checklists for a thorough discussion of items we do and don’t recommend for your river or bike trip.

Camping

How can I comfortably take care of feminine hygiene needs during the trip?

The best thing to do is to come prepared with plenty of supplies (tampons or pads and Ziploc bags in which to dispose of used items—or consider a reusable menstrual cup). We make frequent stops during the day to hike, explore, and eat lunch, which are all good times to find a private place along the shore or in the trees to change a tampon or make any other adjustments (please remember, though, to always pee in the river, not on shore). Don’t be afraid to ask your guide for a quick stop on-shore if we’re not pulling over frequently enough to meet your needs.

Dispose of used pads or tampons in a Ziploc bag that you can keep in your day bag until we get to camp; once at camp, you can throw the Ziploc bag into the trash receptacle that we set up with the toilet. PLEASE DO NOT throw used tampons, applicators, pads, or wrappers into the solid waste baño. Our plumbing system back at the warehouse cannot handle such objects.

How do I go to the bathroom?

This is a common and very important question! But don’t worry; we make it easy and sanitary. During the day, while we travel along the river, the best place to pee is actually in the river itself. These rivers are high volume and carry enormous amounts of sediment and organic materials. Our urine is quickly diluted and does not have as large of an impact as it does if we pee on land. We’ll be traveling through a desert environment where it doesn’t rain very often. Campsites and lunch areas can quickly become stinky and unpleasant if we pee on land. (The one exception to this is visiting side streams or waterfalls: these are much smaller, more fragile waterways. Please urinate away from side streams, as far away as topography and privacy allow.)

At our campsites, we’ll set up our official “baño”, our portable toilet system. We’ll pick a discreet, private location often with the best view in town! These toilets are similar to what you have at home, minus the flushing function. Our baños have regular toilet seats attached to a box. We always set up two baños at each site, one for solid waste and toilet paper, and one for urine. You’ll find toilet paper in a waterproof box within easy reach, and your guides will give you a thorough orientation on the first night of the trip to make sure everyone is comfortable with the system. We also set up a hand washing station to be sure we’re all staying clean and healthy. When we pack up camp in the morning, the baño is the last thing to go, giving you plenty of time to use it after breakfast. And if you need to use the solid waste toilet during the day, it’s easy to unpack and set up in a private location, so please don’t be afraid to ask. Packing out human waste is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to protect these spectacular wilderness areas.

How do I bathe while on the river?

You can bathe directly in the river as long as you are using biodegradable soap (Dr. Bronner’s or CampSuds are good options). Some camps will have a long shoreline and you can walk up or down river to find a private spot to bathe. Most people bathe while wearing their swimsuits and many will bathe next to the rafts so that they can use the rafts to keep their balance. The rivers we run are high-volume (meaning there is a lot of water flowing past our camps) and the soap that we use doesn’t have much of an impact; however, on some trips we’ll visit side streams and waterfalls. Please DO NOT use soap in these waterways, because they are much smaller and more delicately balanced, and our soap will definitely have an impact.

Can I rent camping gear from you?

Yes! We offer two Rental Sleeping Kit options: our basic sleeping kit, which consists of a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, small pillow, rain gear, and plastic mug for $40.00, or the same basic sleeping kit plus a two-person tent for $65.00. Rentals must be reserved in advance, especially for San Juan trips, where we meet away from our headquarters.

What are the campsites like?

Some camps have trees and rocks that provide private nooks for camping; other camps are wide open sand bars. All of them have spectacular river and canyon views, and many are near to hiking trails for pre- or post-dinner exploring.

I’ve never been camping before. What should I expect?

Each afternoon/evening, we’ll park our boats along the edge of the river (or park our bikes alongside the trail) and you’ll be free to pick out your own camping spot. Your primary responsibilities will be carrying your gear to your chosen spot and setting up your tent (if you rented a tent from us, the guides will show you how to put up your tent on the first night). All other aspects of camping, such as food preparation and clean up, are taken care of by the guides. You can choose to sleep securely zipped up inside your tent, or sleep under the stars, with your sleeping pad and sleeping bag laid out directly on the ground. Sometimes it takes people a night or two to adjust to sleeping outside, but with a good book and the rushing sound of the river nearby, you can slowly relax into your new surroundings.

On the River

Is drinking water always available?

Yes! Our rafts are set up with water coolers that are accessible while we’re on the water. We’ll also bring a water cooler up to the beach when we set up lunch and make camp for the night.

Is drinking water always available?

Generally speaking, trips in May and early June are more likely to have cooler temperatures and have a greater potential for rain and wind. July and August are our hottest months, with occasional refreshing afternoon showers. September is usually warm, dry, and calm, although later in the month there’s always a chance for a wet weather pattern to develop.

What will the weather be like?

Generally speaking, trips in May and early June are more likely to have cooler temperatures and have a greater potential for rain and wind. July and August are our hottest months, with occasional refreshing afternoon showers. September is usually warm, dry, and calm, although later in the month there’s always a chance for a wet weather pattern to develop.

What should I wear during the day?

Hot/sunny weather: many people wear a bathing suit with lightweight clothes on top for sun protection. Board shorts are a popular option for both men and women, as well as long-sleeved, quick-dry shirts. Sarongs are a great light-weight option to keep the sun off the tops of knees or shoulders.

Cold/wet weather: warm layers and rain gear are key! Light- or mid-weight long underwear and rain pants are good for your lower body; one or two insulated layers under a rain jacket or shell with a hood are good for your upper body. These layers should be made of wool or synthetic materials (cotton will not keep you warm when it is wet). Top it off with a warm wool hat and you’ll be sitting pretty. Also important is being proactive. Don’t wait until you’re wet and cold to put on your layers.

Wear water shoes or sandals while on the raft (something that will stay on your feet; flip flops are not recommended). For the hikes, most people wear a comfortable pair of tennis shoes or hiking sandals (such as Chacos, Tevas, or Keens).

Read our checklist for more information about what to bring. If you pack appropriately you will be comfortable and happy.

Will there be bugs?

Short answer: maybe. Every year is a little bit different, but most sections of rivers where we operate will experience some sort of localized hatch at some point during the summer. Mosquitoes and deer flies are the most common pests, but they can be deterred by using repellent and by wearing light-weight long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Check with our office a week or so before your trip to find out what the latest bug report is from our guides in the field.

Can I go swimming?

Definitely! Always ask your guide before sliding off the raft (just to be sure you aren’t about to run a rapid or pull over for lunch), and please NEVER jump or dive off of the raft. Many camps (especially in Desolation and Cataract) have great eddies for swimming.

What is the temperature of the water?

Utah and Colorado rivers are fed by snowmelt; they tend to be cold (approx 50 degrees F) in the spring and warm up as the summer progresses. By July, the Colorado River in Cataract can be over 80 degrees F! The Green River in Lodore Canyon is always much cooler than other sections, all season long.

What will the water level be and what will the rapids be like?

Water level can vary throughout the summer, but generally speaking, the rivers are higher in the spring (“higher” = more volume) and lower in the fall. In late July and early August the desert and mountains tend to experience brief, powerful rain storms that can cause localized spikes in river flows; late season trips (mid to late September) can also see temporarily elevated flows during wet weather patterns (uncommon, but possible). On many rivers that we run, more water means bigger rapids, although this is not a general rule. Westwater Canyon, for example, is so narrow that as the river rises, the rapids begin to disappear! Low water is good water in Westwater.

What are the hikes like?

First of all, hikes are always optional. You’re welcome to stay at the beach or on the boats under an umbrella while the rest of the group goes exploring. We do our best to offer a variety of hikes on each trip, but it’s important to recognize that the hikes we do will always depend on the time we have available and weather. For example, on a very hot trip in the middle of July, we will likely not offer long, strenuous hikes during the day. Generally speaking, the majority of hikes that we offer are short, usually less than two miles, and often less than one mile. Certain trips and canyons do provide opportunities for longer hikes, and if a group is interested, we can try to make them happen. If you want maximum hiking opportunities, consider signing up for a trip in the spring, when the weather is cool and the water is high, or in the fall, when weather is cooler. Also consider signing up for our annual special fall extended hiking trip.

What is a typical day on the river like?

Your guides wake around 6:00 a.m. Their first move is to get the water going to make coffee, then they’ll begin breakfast preparation. There’s no need for you to set an alarm clock, though. Your wake-up call will be the sound of the guides letting you know that coffee (or tea, or cocoa) is ready. Breakfast typically follows anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes later. After breakfast is the best time to pack up your gear and carry it down to the rafts. While you’re packing your things, the guides are packing up the kitchen. The baño (our toilet system) is always the last thing to come down. We like to push off the beach around 9 a.m., but don’t forget that we’re all on river time now, so who cares?

During the day, we’ll make stops to go on short or long hikes to check out various attractions. Some days (especially when it’s hot) we may go on just one short hike, and spend most of our time on the river, moving downstream, swimming, and playing with inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Other days we’ll make multiple stops to scout significant rapids. We could travel anywhere from 4 to 24 (or occasionally more) river miles in a single day. We’ll serve lunch around midday, usually on shore, but occasionally we’ll tie all our rafts together and set up a “floating lunch” on the boats.

We aim to arrive at our campsite for the night around 4 or 5 p.m., but again, it’s river time, so who’s really keeping track? On some trips we may make camp earlier or later depending on the camps we’ve been assigned or which sites are available. The guides will set up the kitchen and baño, and maybe play a round of horseshoes with you before starting dinner. Appetizers come first, then another gourmet meal (and dessert!). Your guides will take care of the dishes. Stay up as late as you want, or hit the tent early and enjoy a good book. We’ll sometimes have campfires, although summer months frequently come with fire bans. On truly dark nights, you may wish to stay up just contemplating the stars.

How much time do we spend on the river each day?

The itinerary of a river trip has to be flexible to account for things like weather, campsite availability, and river flows. Every day will be a little bit different, depending on where we choose to camp (or are assigned to camp) and how much time is needed for activities during the day such as lunch and side hikes. On average you may spend 4 to 7 hours per day on the river.

I’m nervous about the rapids. What should I do?

It’s perfectly okay to feel a little nervous. Talk to your guide or trip leader and let them know how you’re feeling. Make sure you know where you will sit and how to hang on to the raft before you get into any major rapids. Listen carefully to the safety talk, but don’t forget that the safety talk is meant to prepare everyone for possibilities, not eventualities. Other than that, just hang on and enjoy the ride! Don’t forget to look at the scenery, and trust us when we say that some of the people who are the most nervous at the start of the trip are the ones who end up whooping and hollering the loudest in the rapids at the end!

What is the guide-to-guest ratio?

Five guests to one guide is our standard ratio, although it is frequently closer to 4 to 1.

Can I use an inflatable kayak or stand-up paddleboard?

Yes. We usually bring one or two of these solo watercrafts on most trips that we run (we can bring up to four on large trips), and guests take turns using them throughout the trip. Be sure to fill out your guest data form and indicate your interest so that we can plan accordingly.

Can I row the raft?

Sure! Our guides are happy to give others a chance to row and see what the oars feel like. This will depend, of course, on the timing of the trip, rapids, and weather conditions (especially wind!), so please don’t be offended when they ask for the oars back.

Will I be helping to paddle the boat?

On most of our trips, we will use oar-powered rafts, which are operated by a single guide using a pair of oars. In oar rafts, our passengers are free to sit and relax during the calm water, and in the rapids, your main job is to hang on!

On certain trips, if requested, we can sometimes bring along a paddle boat. A paddle boat requires 6 to 8 motivated passengers, each with their own paddle, to move the boat downstream and navigate rapids. The guide sits at the back of the boat and calls out instructions to the passengers. It’s a great team-building activity, but it is a lot of work! Multi-day trips on big, Western rivers frequently include sections of flat, or calm, water, sometimes with very little current. Paddle boats can be challenging in these conditions, which is why we don’t often use them. Certain trips (Yampa, Lodore, Westwater) are great fun for motivated paddlers, so if that’s your group’s priority, be sure to talk to our reservationists about which trips might be able to include a paddle boat.

How many people can ride on one raft?

One oar raft will typically carry up to five passengers, plus one guide.

What kind of rafts do you use?

Holiday primarily uses 18-foot, self-bailing, inflatable, oar-powered rafts. This means that each raft is equipped with a wooden frame with oar locks and two oars that a single guide will use to move the boat downstream and navigate through each rapid. Our rafts and frames are custom-designed and custom-built for maximum efficiency for gear storage and maximum comfort for our guests. We do not use motorized rafts on any section of river that we run. We love our human-powered rafts (and the super-human guides that power them!), and believe that a non-motorized trip offers an unmatched wilderness experience. Check out our Impeccable Gear page to see photos of our rafts.

Getting There (Travel and Logistics)

What should I do with my car keys?

We have a place to store keys in our headquarters in both Green River and Vernal. Feel free to leave your keys with us—one less thing to keep track of on the river!

Where should I leave my car?

You can leave your car parked at our warehouse, where you’ll meet for your trip. Please lock your car and store any valuables in the trunk or out of sight. We cannot assume liability for any loss or theft of cars left in our parking lot.

Where should I stay before or after my trip?

There are plenty of hotel options in both Green River and Vernal. Check out our “getting here” pages for Vernal and Green River for specific recommendations.

Note: San Juan trips involve different logistics. See “getting here” for Full and Lower San Juan trips and for the Upper San Juan.

When should I plan to arrive?

It’s best to arrive the day before your trip to avoid any scheduling mishaps the morning of your trip. For Desolation and Cataract trips there is a pre-trip meeting at our Green River, Utah, headquarters at 8:00 p.m. the night before your trip. San Juan trips also have an 8:00 p.m. pre-trip meeting in either Blanding or Bluff, Utah. Please refer to your trip information packet for more information.

Is there any public transportation that I can use?

The Amtrak “California Zephyr” train makes stops in Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado; Green River, Utah; and Salt Lake City. Please note that it is frequently behind schedule. Plan to arrive the day before your river or bike trip to ensure you make it to Green River on time.

There are a few shuttle companies that run between Moab and Green River, and there is Greyhound Bus service from Las Vegas to Green River.

What’s the best airport to fly into?

Salt Lake City International Airport is a three-hour drive from both Vernal, Utah, and Green River, Utah, and typically offers the most flight options for the most reasonable prices.

Moab’s airport now has daily flights to and from Denver; Green River is an hour’s drive north of Moab.

Grand Junction, Colorado also has a variety of flight options; Green River is a 90-minute drive west of Grand Junction.

You can also fly from Denver to Vernal directly through United Airlines and get a taxi or rideshare company to transport you to your hotel; you can arrange for Holiday to pick you up from your hotel in the morning if you talk to your reservation agent ahead of time.

Please refer to your trip information packet or call our office for the best travel suggestions.

Where do I need to go to meet my trip?

Holiday has two operational headquarters, one in Vernal, Utah, and one in Green River, Utah. All of our trips (except for trips on the San Juan River) meet at one of these two locations.

  • Vernal: Lodore and Yampa
  • Green River: Westwater, Cataract, Desolation, White Rim, Maze, San Rafael Swell, La Sal, Moab Sampler

San Juan River Trips:

  • Full and Lower San Juan trips meet in Blanding, Utah.
  • Upper San Juan River trips meet in Bluff, Utah. 

Please refer to your trip information packet for the meeting place and time for your specific trip.

What about the Biking?

Is there any way to shower on a bike trip?

We bring solar showers that will slowly warm up over the course of the day (they ride on the top of the van). These are a great way to clean up at the end of a day of riding. They are definitely more of a rinse than a shower, but they’re still super refreshing! Wet wipes are a great supplement to the solar shower.

What are the toilets like on bike trips?

On the White Rim Trail there are pit toilets at each designated campsite. In other areas, Holiday will bring a portable toilet system (our baño, the same system we use on the river). Our baños are sealable plastic boxes with real toilet seats.

During the day, the best place to pee is in the road, or just next to it. This is the most developed and “disturbed” zone, and so we try to concentrate our impact on the environment in that one spot. If we’re not in an area with pit toilets, we’re happy to set up the solid waste toilet if it’s needed during the day.

What is the camping like?

Bike trip camping is absolutely spectacular. On river trips, we camp in the bottom of beautiful canyons; on bike trips we camp above those canyons. The views and the sky are enormous, endless. Certain areas (La Sal Mountains) offer forested camping sites, but on most bike trips we’ll camp out in the open, surrounded by red rock buttes, mesas, and sweeping sandstone expanses.

We use a 4×4 support van to carry all of our food, water, kitchen supplies, bike repair items, and your personal gear. Your guides take care of all the logistics and work: set up, meal prep, clean up, etc. You’ll set up and take down your own tent, but otherwise all you have to do is ride your bike and enjoy!

Can I rent a bike from you?

Yes! We have Specialized Stumpjumper bicycles in sizes small through extra large available for $180 per person. Rentals come with a helmet (mandatory on all of our trips) and water bottle. Please note that our bikes come with flat pedals; you’ll need to bring your own clipless pedals and shoes if that’s your preferred set up.

What kind of bike should I use?

We recommend using a full-suspension mountain bike with 27.5- or 29-inch tires.

I do a lot of road biking. Is that enough to prepare for my trip?

Road biking is a great way to get in shape, but there’s a big difference between 30 miles on a road bike on pavement and 30 miles on dirt on a mountain bike. The best way to prepare is by simply getting out on a mountain bike on rough dirt roads or trails as much as possible.

I’ve never ridden a mountain bike. Can I still go on a trip?

Certainly! But you must spend some time riding and practicing on a mountain bike before your trip. If you arrive for your trip never having ridden a mountain bike, it will be quite the challenge!

Is there a minimum age limit for bike trips?

Yes. 12 years old is the minimum age for bike trips.

Is there a minimum fitness level?

Although Holiday doesn’t have a clearly defined minimum fitness level, you must be able to comfortably and safely ride your bike for the majority of the trip. There may be short uphill or downhill sections that you choose to walk, but you must be comfortable biking 15 to 30 miles a day on rough dirt roads. Our support van cannot carry passengers except in emergencies. If you are a part of a group or are planning a trip for a group, it’s best if everyone in the group is at approximately the same fitness level so that your group can stay more or less together.

How should I prepare for my biking trip?

You should prepare by riding a mountain bike on dirt roads or trails as much as possible. The more time you spend riding, the happier you’ll be on your trip. If you plan to bring your personal bike on the trip, you should be sure that it is in good working order. We recommend getting it tuned by a shop before you arrive.

How difficult is the biking?

Our mountain bike trips are suitable for the athletic beginner to the experienced mountain biker. Most of our bike routes follow 4×4 roads (only the Moab Sampler trip includes singletrack trails). There are sections with steep grades, loose gravel, rocks, and uneven terrain, but there are also long, easy sections of packed dirt.