Native Voices – Desolation Canyon

Join Holiday and Forrest Cuch for a special Native Voices Desolation Canyon Rafting Trip, through traditional Ute lands. On this trip we will hear from one of the voices who needs to be heard most as the West faces a critical moment in time to protect our region’s rivers. Forrest will join us August 28-September 2nd 2023 in one of the plateau’s most remote and beautiful canyons along the stretch of the Green River which also serves as the modern-day Western border for the Uintah Ouray Ute Tribe. 

Desolation Canyon has long been a favorite trip, known for its extended length of time to enjoy the backcountry, intermediate and playful whitewater, shady cottonwood trees and exquisite riparian biodiversity.  With 5 nights and 6 days to get out of touch and enjoy life’s finer things (good food, good company & good fun) this trip has it all. On this specialty trip however, the experience will be immeasurably enhanced by the wisdom of our friend and fellow water steward, Forrest Cuch.

Forrest-cuchForrest is an enrolled member of the Ute Indian Tribe, a historian, advocate and spiritual guide. Forrest has formerly held many challenging positions including education director for the Ute Indian Tribe and executive director, Utah Division of Indian Affairs. Throughout his career, he has worked to call attention to the ancient presence and contributions of American Indian people throughout the Western Hemisphere, including the intermountain west. He is currently engaged in working with spiritual leaders throughout the Western Hemisphere to usher in the new shift in feminine consciousness known as the New Earth and calling attention to Climate Change and Harm to Mother Earth. Forrest strongly believes racism and environmental injustice are interrelated: “How man treats man is reflected in how we treat the environment. We are witnessing a high degree of environmental violence and destruction which correlates with how we treat each other.” 

Want some pre-trip reading? Dive into Forrest’s book, A History of Utah’s American Indians

Read more about this stretch of river: Insider’s Guide to Rafting the Green River through Desolation Canyon

Green River, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

The Green River through Desolation Canyon flows through the traditional homeland of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) people. Today, the Uintah and Ouray Reservation borders the east side of Desolation and Gray Canyons, and the Ute people continue to protect the river. Holiday acknowledges and respects the long history of these traditional inhabitants. We appreciate our own long-standing relationship with the modern-day tribe. Learn more about our land acknowledgments here.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    Desolation Canyon - Green River Wilderness

  • Length:

    6 Days

  • Dates:

    August 28th

  • Meet at:

    Green River, Utah @ 7:00 pm (night before the trip)

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Deposit:



  • Scenic flight over the river corridor to remote wilderness put-in
  • Pristine beaches with shady cottonwood trees
  • Consistent and lively Class I–III rapids
  • The best trip for inflatable kayak enthusiasts
  • Indigenous interpretation and perspectives from Forrest Cuch
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

6 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,541
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $1,541
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $1,541
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $1,541
Book This Trip
Check Availability
  • August
  • 28

*Rate does not include the $40 land use fee.


The Green River flows through traditional Ute Lands in so-called eastern Utah. The Green cuts through the Tavaputs Plateau, one of the largest wilderness areas across the continental US. Beginning at the Sand Wash boat ramp, a 25-mile bone-rattling ride from the closest pavement, Desolation Canyon is a true wilderness destination. The river travels southwest for more than 80 miles through some of the youngest rocks on the Colorado Plateau, finally emerging from the canyon just upstream of the town of Green River, Utah.


Sample Itinerary

The day before your trip:

Desolation Canyon trips begin with a scenic flight to the remote put in. Because of the flight logistics, we ask that (if possible) you plan to stop by our Green River, Utah warehouse before 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time on the day before your trip to drop off any excessive or bulky gear as well as any personal beverages. These will travel to the put in by road, with the guides, boats, and river gear.

Otherwise, please plan to attend the pre-trip meeting at our Green River warehouse at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time. A Holiday employee will give you your waterproof bags, a brief orientation on how to pack and prepare for the flight, and let you know what time to meet in the morning (typically 6:15 a.m.). This is the best time to purchase last minute items from our store (look over our packing checklist to see what we carry).

Day 1:

On the morning of your trip, please arrive promptly at the predetermined time established at the pre-trip meeting. We’ll load up in our vans for the 15-minute drive to Green River’s small airstrip. You’ll travel in small, four- to nine-passenger planes, and fly directly up the Green River, over the Tavaputs Plateau and Desolation Canyon. It’s about a 35-minute flight, and it is spectacular! Your guides will be waiting to meet and greet you at the airstrip, and they’ll lead you on the first hike of the trip, a 45-minute descent to the rafts waiting at the river bottom. Guests who are apprehensive about the hike can be transported by vehicle to the river. Once at the put in, the guides will finish loading up the boats, you’ll get to talk to the river rangers about the significance of the wilderness you are about to enter, and then we start floating! Watch cliff swallows explode out of their nests as the walls rise around us. Take a short hike to see a turtle fossil, and make camp on a sandbar or in a grove of cottonwood trees.

Day 2:

Enjoy a few more miles of calm water as we row around Peter’s Point. Lighthouse Rock, named by John Wesley Powell, clues us in to the whitewater just around the corner. Hop in an inflatable kayak to splash through our first rapids. Hike to one or more ancient Fremont cultural site or explore a side canyon.

Day 3:

Wander around the historic Rock Creek Ranch, where Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch slept, and try to spot granaries (ancient food-storage structures) on the canyon walls. Hold on tight (or paddle hard!) through rapids such as Chandler Falls and the biggest of them all, Cow Swim. Born of a flash flood in 2008, it marks the former location of historic cattle ford.

Day 4:

Desolation’s walls soar, red and rugged, into the sky, a colorful finale as we transition into Gray Canyon. Today brings continued whitewater fun with Wire Fence, Three Fords, and Coal Creek rapids. Look for evidence of a planned dam site on the hike to scout Coal Creek Rapid, and poke around in the ruins of a surveyor’s cabin just downstream. Celebrate paddling through these rapids with a gorgeous sandy beach and a gourmet meal on your last night in the canyon.

Day 5:

With several more rapids to go, and a few more hours to listen to the song of the canyon wren as we approach the end of the canyon. We’ll have lunch and maybe squeeze in one more cultural site before arriving at the take out at Swasey’s Beach. We’ll all return to Green River, Utah (20-minute van ride) together. Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

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

Desolation Canyon TP Guides Overlook Camp

Note: If you are on a 6-day Desolation Canyon rafting trip, you can expect a similar itinerary to this 5-day trip. However, with lower late-season river flows and an extra day to play, you will most likely see different campsites than you would on a 5-day trip.


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