If your idea of seeing a national park is pulling up in a Winnebago, peering from a “scenic overlook” to take in miles of earth-wrenching geology, and picnicking with bus tourists, you won’t see much of Canyonlands National Park.
Only hiking, biking and rafting can deliver a seldom seen perspective of the red-rock country that is among the most spectacular landscapes on Earth. No Canyonlands car or bus tour features the salmon hues of dawn that sweep your campsite or put you on the edge of a maze of canyons. Holiday Expeditions’ combination trips, however, make it possible, even cushy, for multi-sport adventure seekers to pedal, hike and raft Canyonlands and other remote wilderness areas in Utah. Mountain bikers are supported by a four-wheel-drive van that carries camping and personal gear, as well as fresh foods and beverages for delicious meals. On the rafting segment of the trip, all gear is stowed aboard the rafts.
Holiday’s seven-day Canyonlands journey starts off with mountain biking on the White Rim Trail, many a mountain bikers’ dream destination. Guests pedal through Canyonlands’ striking “Island in the Sky”, a triangle of land defined by the banks of the Green and Colorado Rivers and the infinite sky above. After three days of fat tire fun, the mountain bikes are left behind, and gearheads board rafts on the roiling Colorado River, as it slices its way through Cataract Canyon – prepare for some of the West’s biggest whitewater.
“There is nothing more exhilarating than riding through the awesomeness of the desert and then dropping down for a electrifying ride on the Colorado River,” says Holiday guest Dan Schwab. “I came back from my trip with a totally new sense of what living means.”
By combining cycling with rafting, Holiday Partner John Wood created a vacation experience he believes satisfies the cravings of the most adventurous among us. “You’re literally in the middle of nowhere and you step off your bike and onto a raft,” says Wood. “There is no van transfer or motel night in between. You just ride down to the river, the raft floats up and you’re on your way.”
Holiday also offers a seven-day combination bike/raft trip through Dinosaur National Monument, which straddles the Utah-Colorado border. For two days, guests cycle the Yampa Bench between Blue Mountain on the right, which climbs 2,000 feet into the sky, and the Yampa River Gorge on the left, which plunges 1,200 feet down.
Day three begins the journey on the free-flowing and frolicking Yampa River, one of the last untamed rivers in the west. By trip’s end, guests have had the opportunity to marvel at 2,000-foot-tall cliffs that display ancient Indian rock art, cool off in canyon waterfalls and spend time exploring caves.
And, for those who don’t have a full week to get away, Holiday also offers an action-packed, four-day combo trip near Moab, Utah. Starting at the base of the snow-capped La Sal Mountains, guests ride for two days descending 4,000 feet for another two days of rafting the wild and wet Colorado River through Westwater Canyon.
These trips are not solely for the hardcore athlete. The biking segments, which cover 20-25 miles a day, all follow double-track paths suitable for athletic beginners as well as experts. The trips run May through September, offering a refreshing new way to experience Utah’s rarely seen places. Holiday Expeditions can be reached at 801-266-2087 inside Utah, or toll-free from outside Utah at 1-800-624-6323, or check out Holiday’s web site at www.HolidayExpeditions.com for a complete trip listing.