The Pickpockets Bluegrass Band on the Yampa River

Pickpockets Music Trip Band Group Photo

There is an endless amount of magical moments to experience on a trip down the Yampa River. Flowing between the steep canyon walls is a truly wild river, the last major tributary of the Colorado that remains unregulated. Here exists abundant wildlife, lush vegetation, and thrilling whitewater, as well as idyllic campsites and breathtaking vistas. In a single day, you may wake to a gorgeous view, have a blast getting splashed by big waves, spot a bighorn sheep getting a drink, and wander down a trail surrounded by wildflowers on your way to an archaeological site, all before settling in at yet another beautiful camp. The Yampa truly “checks all of the boxes” when it comes to a wilderness river trip.

 

What could possibly make this experience any better, you may ask? Well, what if you were joined by a talented and joyous bluegrass band who played live music each day and evening? Thanks to The Pickpockets, you have that chance! Come float with Dante, David, Alec, Jake, and Aiden as they share their unique brand of soulful, upbeat, and fun style of bluegrass in the best amphitheater imaginable: a desert river canyon.

 

On this five day adventure, our expert guides will cook up gourmet meals, offer fascinating interpretation of the area, and gracefully navigate the river while you sit back and try to take it all in. Hiking opportunities are varied and plentiful with destinations to ancient rock art, amazing viewpoints, and waterfalls. With The Pickpockets providing a soundtrack of familiar favorites and earnest, heartfelt originals, what more can you ask for? Come join us while we float along, dancing and celebrating life in a truly magical place!

About The Pickpockets:

The Pickpockets were formed in 2018 in Salt Lake City. What began as a weekly jam at the local cidery has now matured into a full fledged force of nature. With an expansive repertoire of songs, a healthy mix of heartfelt original tunes and a full serving of funky jams, the Pickpockets energy and excitement breathe new life into the traditional bluegrass instrumentation.

Read more: Insider’s Guide to Whitewater Rafting on the Yampa River Blog

Vernal, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

The Yampa River flows through the traditional homeland of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people. With great respect and appreciation, Holiday acknowledges the Indigenous people who lived in and cared for these lands long before the Yampa was set aside as a place only to be visited. You can read more about our land acknowledgements initiative here.
Book This Trip

Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Music

  • Location:

    Yampa River - Dinosaur National Monument

  • Length:

    5 Days

  • Dates:

    June 29-July 3

  • Meet at:

    Vernal, Utah @ 7:00 p.m. the night before the trip

  • Difficulty:

    Intermediate

  • Min. Age:

    8

  • Prices:

    $1,565 + $12 park entrance fee

  • Deposit:

    400

Highlights

  • Float through a beautiful & awe-inspiring winding canyon
  • Breathtaking starlit night skies in this Gold Tier Dark Sky park
  • Enjoy a soundtrack of fun and joyous live music
  • Expertly guided trip with gourmet meals
  • Lose count of the wildlife you see around every bend
  • Hike to amazing vistas and fascinating archaeological sites
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

Itinerary

From the mountains of Steamboat Springs, the Yampa River emerges and flows west towards Utah. After emerging from Cross Mountain Canyon, the river meanders its way to Deerlodge Park, where we will begin our trip. Over the next 47 miles, the Yampa descends over its steep gradient into the heart of Dinosaur National Monument, weaving and winding its way through thousands of years of geology, lush vegetation, and plenty of thrilling whitewater before joining the mighty Green River in Echo Park. Rounding out the trip are the breathtaking canyons of Whirpool and Split Mountain.

Sample Itinerary

Our area headquarters in Vernal, Utah, will serve as the meeting place the night before your trip at 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time for a brief pre-trip orientation. At this time, guides will distribute waterproof bags, collect your personal drinks, and answer any pertinent questions about the trip. This is a chance to purchase any last minute items from our store at that time (see our packing checklist for a list of items we carry in our store).

Day 1:

Meet back at our Vernal headquarters bright and early for a scenic one and a half hour drive to the put-in at Deerlodge Park in Dinosaur National Monument. After the guides load the boats and give a brief orientation, it will be time to hop aboard and begin your journey downstream! Before you know it, the canyon walls rise and envelope you as the small riffles serve as a warm up for whats to come downstream. Around lunchtime, you may stop for a short walk to a historic cabin while the guides prepare the first mouthwatering meal. A few more river miles are to come before landing for camp, where we will settle in for night one of amazing tunes!

Day 2:

As the sun rises and draws its light over the canyon walls, welcome the new day with coffee, tea, or cocoa as the guides prepare your first river breakfast. After packing up camp, assist in helping load the boats up and begin your journey downstream, likely starting the day off with a bang in Teepee Rapid. Pull over for a hike to another cabin or ancient rock art before riding through Little Joe Rapid, Big Joe Rapid, and Five Springs Rapid. Keep your eyes out for desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and soaring redtail hawks. From camp, there may be an opportunity to hike to the canyon rim to take in the view of the whole area. After, kick your feet up and enjoy another delicious meal and personal concert before falling asleep with the stars.

Day 3:

If you’re not up with the sun, you may wake to the beautiful sounds of the guides calling “Hot Coffee!!!”, meaning another beautiful day on the river is ahead. Keep your hiking shoes handy for the jaunt up to Mantle Cave and listen to your guides explain the rich and fascinating history of the ancient nomadic peoples who lived in the area. Lose yourself in the winding canyon as the Yampa slows to a hypnotic pace on its way to Warm Springs Rapid, the biggest whitewater of the trip. Scout the rapid with the guides and listen as they discuss how they will navigate this tricky section of river, then join in the celebrating after the successful runs. Sing and dance the rest of the day away from another glorious campsite, potentially sporting the biggest sandy beach you can imagine.

Day 4:

With only two more peaceful miles on the Yampa before it joins with the Green River, we frequently try to embrace the tranquility and take the opportunity to practice mindfulness with a silent float. This is an opportunity for the guides to pull their oars out of the water and for everyone in the group to reflect on the days past, the time to come, and of our place in the world. As you enter Echo Park, famed for its amazing acoustics, invite the Pickpockets to break the silence with the perfect tune for the moment. After lunch, practice your headstand as you enter Whirpool Canyon via Headstand Rapid. Wander up Jones Hole Creek and cast your fly for some trout, or head to the end of the trail for ancient rock art and cooling waterfalls. After working up your appetite all day, enjoy your final river dinner and private evening concert, possibly with a costume party!

Day 5:

We can’t resist offering up the most scrumptious breakfast yet on this last morning, omelettes, before traversing through some of the most beautiful and varied terrain you will encounter. If you haven’t yet, take a turn paddling the inflatable kayaks, or ask your guide for a chance at rowing the raft. You’ll have a chance to ditch the lifejacket for a few peaceful miles of flat water through Island Park and ending the trip with a thrilling series of rapids in Split Mountain Canyon. Our take out point lies here at Split Mountain Campground, where we aim to meet our vans at around 2pm, putting us back at our Vernal headquarters between 3pm-4pm.

Please remember – this is an example of a sample itinerary and may not be the exact trip you’ll experience. The Yampa River offers numerous options each day, and each trip may feature different highlights. We encourage you to keep an open mind, enjoy, and as always – go with the flow!

Yampa River Boats Hands Up

One of the best parts of a river trip is the variability of options available. Factors such as the weather, assigned campsites, river conditions, and many other variables mean that every trip will (thankfully) be different. This sample itinerary illustrates one possible five-day trip down the Yampa River.

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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 1 reviews
 by Gala S

Karen was wonderful! She was patient with all of my questions and did a great job of making me feel prepared to update our full group.

Absolutely amazing! Big kudos to this company-- I loved all of the little touches along the way and can't say enough about the amazing guides.