The Park Record (Park City, UT) reporter, Amy Roberts loves to travel. And she’s a thrill seeker enjoying kayaking the Nile and  Zambezi rivers, (think crocs), swimming with great whites in  South Africa and tracking mountain gorillas in Rwanda. She once was nearly sold for 2,000 camels in Morocco.  So a Utah river trip may seem a bid staid for such an adventurer.  Read on…

Best-selling author and acclaimed businessman Tom Peters once wrote: “The formula for success: Under promise and over deliver.”

I can’t be positive, but I’m pretty sure he came up with that philosophy after a rafting trip with Holiday River Expeditions. Because that’s exactly what they do. To say they do it right is the biggest understatement since the captain of the Titanic said, “Hey look! Floating ice!”

When I was first presented with the opportunity to do a four-day rafting trip down the Green River, through Lodore Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument, I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t particularly jumping up and down squeezing myself with joy.

“We have to go to Vernal?” I recall thinking. And further, “Something in Utah is called Dinosaur National Monument? How can that be? Most of the state believes the earth is only 6,000 years old. It must be where ‘The Flinstones’ was filmed or something.”

But my inner monologue very quickly got a wet sock stuffed in her mouth. Because this area is nothing short of Jurassic jaw-dropping. And so few Utahns seem to even know about it.

When I explained to friends where I was going last week, the unified response was something like, “If you need some desert time, why don’t you go to Zion, or Bryce, or Moab, or Escalante?”

My answer to them a week later is this: “I went to all of them.”

Because that’s what this area is the beauty of all of our favorite desert spots combined. Made even more spectacular because you’re enjoying it from a fish-eye view.

“It’s amazing to me how many people from Utah don’t know about this place,” said Jordan Pavoni, a veteran guide and our trip leader. “About 70% of our clients are from out of state.”

That percentage was pretty true for our group of 22 as well. We had a delightful family of four from Massachusetts, a honeymooning couple from Virginia, a load from Southern California, and even a couple of guys from Japan. All of whom seemed taken aback by the beauty of Lodore Canyon.

“I felt like we were floating into a painting,” said honeymooner Chad Majewski, who chose this trip because his new bride Sara had always wanted to go whitewater rafting. “We love camping and being outdoors. But I had no idea, when we settled on this trip, it could be this good.”

And though the area is quite simply some of Mother Nature’s finest work, the guides from Holiday River Expeditions gave the wow factor a few exclamation points.

Kailei, Molly, Jordan, Doug, Mike and Brian were all skilled, professional, knowledgeable, capable, friendly and downright fun. They lived the company’s motto, “Go with the flow,” and improvised when necessary to make the experience enjoyable and memorable.

Even with the state’s ban on open flames, they still gave us the campfire experience by putting headlamps and glow sticks in the would-be fire pit.

“We do whatever we can to make sure our guests are happy,” noted Icy Mike, who earned the nickname from a recent trip when a few clients asked for cocktails at the campsite. He chiseled and chopped the cinder-block-sized chunk of ice in the cooler to meet their expectations.

Though that request sounds a bit prima-donna to me, apparently it’s all in a days work for these guides.

“The guides really do everything for you,” noted guest Lisa Pearson. “This really is the easiest way to enjoy a river trip. It’s all the fun of camping with none of the work. The only thing we have to do is put on our life jackets. That’s a big plus. And the food is unbelievable. I’m pretty sure all the guides went to culinary school.”

Just a few months before this trip, Lisa and her husband John took their two kids, Allie and Jack, to Disney World. Everyone agreed that rafting the Green River blew Mickey and company out of the water.

“This really is the anti-Disney,” Lisa said. “My kids are out here in nature, learning about history and the environment and the importance of protecting places like this. They’re learning a certain independence. And I don’t have to worry about their safety. It’s relaxing for us, too.”

Her 12-year old daughter, Allie, agreed. “I like this trip much better because I’m learning about cool animals and the rocks. The only thing I learned at Disney was not to ride Space Mountain after lunch.”

I’m not sure if it was the river, the scenery, the food, the company, the jolliness of the guides, or a combination of everything, but this trip seemed to bring out the best in everyone. (I was even able to tolerate the Republican in my boat!).

But the very best part of the trip was this: There was no letdown. Everything about it was a pleasant surprise. And at the end of the day, there are very few things in life that are actually better than you expect them to be. A river trip is one of them.

Thanks to Amy for such a colorful and descriptive article. Holiday River Expeditions is ready to serve you and take you down through Lodore Canyon on the Green River, or a different trip perhaps down the Salmon or Colorado. Check our website for launch dates.