Retro River Rafting on the Yampa River with Roy Webb

Yampa Retro River Roy Webb Smiling

Retro river rafting? Is this just some kind of alliterative joke? Does that mean we’re going to be running rapids with bucket boats and cooking over fire? Just how retro are we going? Back to the days of John Wesley Powell’s heavy oak boats? Or way back to the time when mountain men were trapping beavers in buffalo boats?

Okay, well, we probably won’t be going quite that retro. But this trip will be a bit of an homage to the founders of this crazy river rafting thing that we all love. We’ll probably lace up our Chuck Taylors, hike up our cut-off jean shorts, dust off the Sierra cups and drink a toast to the people like Dee Holladay, who made a trip like this possible. And we’re bringing along Roy Webb, renowned river historian, to teach us all a thing or two about those who came before us.

To top it all off, we’re doing this retro river rafting thing on the Yampa River, the one river that still behaves much as it did back in the “golden era” of rafting. Still unregulated by dams, still free-flowing, the Yampa in June is as wild as they come. Join us for this very special trip back in time.

Learn more about the WILD Yampa River: read our Insider’s Guide here.

Vernal, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

Featured Review:

” I appreciate the guides’ enthusiasm for sharing this experience with us and teaching about the Yampa. They were always eager to answer questions and lead hikes despite all of their hard work manning the rafts and wrangling us guests. We were treated to multiple wildlife sightings as well–more bighorn sheep than I have ever seen, bald eagles, a golden eagle, mule deer, song birds, humming birds. The geology of the Yampa, Whirlpool canyon, and Split Mountain are fascinating. And don’t forget the stars! Our trip was made so much richer by river historian Roy Webb who joined us. Each evening, Roy would give us the history of the river section we had just completed and cover a topic such as the Powell Expeditions or the Echo Park dam project. I highly recommend adventuring with Holiday, especially on one of their “special interest” departures with a life-long historian and passionate river runner like Roy.” (Diantha Williamson)

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Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Rafting

  • Location:

    Yampa River - Dinosaur National Monument

  • Length:

    5 Days

  • Dates:

    June 3–7, 2022

  • Meet at:

    Vernal, UT @ 7:00 pm (night before the trip)

  • Difficulty:

    Intermediate

  • Min. Age:

    8

  • Deposit:

    300

Highlights

  • Learn about river history with Roy Webb
  • Experience a truly wild, unregulated river
  • Many inflatable kayak-friendly rapids
  • Float through seldom-seen corners of Dinosaur National Monument
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

5 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,205
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $1,205
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $1,205
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $1,205
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2022
  • June 3-7

Itinerary

The Yampa runs from east to west, out of the mountains near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and races downhill toward its confluence with the Green River at Echo Park in Dinosaur National Monument. Along the way, it runs through some fun whitewater and some absolutely gorgeous canyon scenery.

Sample Itinerary

Please meet us for a pre-trip meeting at our headquarters in Vernal, Utah, at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time. We’ll give you your dry bags, collect any personal beverages you’d like to bring, answer questions, and make a plan for the following morning. You can also buy any last-minute items from our on-site store (see our packing checklist for items we typically have on hand).

Day 1:

From Vernal, it’s a 90-minute van ride to the put-in at Deerlodge Park in Colorado. After preparing the rafts and getting you oriented, we’ll push off and begin to move on river time. We’ll enter Yampa Canyon almost immediately, and encounter several fun, splashy rapids. Lunch may be on a beach near a historic cabin. Make camp and fall asleep to the sound of rushing water.

Day 2:

We’ll run some good rapids today, including Teepee and Big Joe. The canyon walls continue to rise above us, and by mid-day we’ll start to see the white Weber sandstone, for which the Yampa is famous. Spend the afternoon hiking to the top of Wagon Wheel Point, a strenuous but worthwhile climb to a high point overlooking the lower canyon walls.

Day 3:

Hike to a wide cave where ancient indigenous people left signs of their presence. Follow the river’s entrenched meanders past the 1,200-foot Grand Overhang. Listen for the screech of hunting peregrine falcons that nest on the canyon rim. Carefully kiss the Tiger Wall: it’s sure to bring good luck for your run through Warm Springs Rapid, the biggest of the trip.

Day 4:

This morning may include a silent float as we approach the confluence with the Green River at Echo Park. Dip your toes into the place where the rivers meet and watch the different colored-water flow side by side for a surprising distance. The geology changes dramatically as we float through the Mitten Park Fault and into Whirlpool Canyon. Spend the afternoon at Jones Hole Creek: fishing, hiking, petroglyphs, big horn sheep, and waterfalls are all possibilities.

Day 5:

Choose to paddle an inflatable kayak through the last several miles of calm water in Island Park. We’ll follow the river as it makes a sharp left turn and cuts its way into the aptly named Split Mountain. The river drops an average of almost 20 feet per mile for the last eight miles. Enjoy your last several rapids before we pause for lunch and finally arrive at the boat ramp. We’ll load the boats and then transport you the final 35 minutes back to our warehouse in Vernal. We typically plan to arrive back at our headquarters by approximately 4:00 p.m.

Please remember that this is a sample itinerary, not an exact description of your trip. Our goal is simply to give you an overview of what the trip may entail. We invite you to embrace the inherent changeability of a wilderness river trip and come prepared to have fun and go with the flow!

Yampa River Jacqueline Boating Whitewater Rapids

We say the Yampa is WILD, and it is. Each trip will be different depending on weather, the interests of our passengers, assigned campsites, and the need to be considerate of other river users. This is a sample itinerary; your trip may consist of different hikes or attractions, or you may do exactly what’s described here! And either way, it’ll be a great time. Enjoy, and don’t forget to go with the flow.

Reviews

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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 5 reviews
 by Peter & Colleen Gowen

Well run trip by competent guides who clearly enjoyed what they were doing.

 by Steve & Lorrie Belcher Maeger

There are no words to express the fantastic trip we experienced with Holiday. If you want to know how to extend customer service to people look at Holiday river. They bend over backward to please every participant on their boats.

 by Patrick Mahon

I was the oldest person on our trip(73). The guides (Sherpa, Justin, Jack, and Tanner) and the other guests were all very helpful. I was able to go with my son and grandson and it was truly the trip

 by Diantha Williamson

Such a treat to meet Justin, Sherpa, Tanner, and Jack. They were fun to float with and, of course, phenomenal guides--working hard, sun up to sundown. I appreciate their knowledge about the river, their courteous service, and their demonstration of low-impact camping. Thanks again, Sherpa, for bringing your flute. Justin--your recitation was a wonderful preamble to our silent float (which was definitely a highlight). Tanner--thanks for leading me through Split Mt and watching out for me after swimming from the ducky. I appreciate you all letting me spend so much time in the ducky. Jack--hope to catch you on a White Rim/Cataract trip sooner than later! I was thrilled that Roy Webb was the historian alluded to on the website. I had the privilege of floating Lodore with him too. Wow! His masterful command of river knowledge and personal stories on these rivers enrich these trips indefinitely. Please continue to offer departures with experts like Roy. This was my second trip with Holiday, and hopefully one of many, many more. On my first trip, we floated past the confluence of the Yampa and I found the sweeping sandstone intriguing. One of the guides mentioned that much of the Yampa winds through such walls, starting my plans to return to visit the Yampa. As always, pre-trip research and planning is easy with Holiday. Putting in was well organized and, at all times, I felt safe on the water. Holiday guides are top-notch as always--shout out to Justin, Sherpa, Tanner, and Jack! From dawn until dusk they are working to make your experience fun, relaxing, safe, and educational. It is impossible to go hungry on one of these trips. The food is tasty and plentiful. I enjoyed the side-hikes on this trip. One of my favorite aspects was piloting the inflatable kayak through the Yampa's many turns between Mather's Hole and Warm Springs. The campsites were unparalleled. The best views in the world all around and, one evening, a great beach for bocce ball and frisbee. I appreciate the guides' enthusiasm for sharing this experience with us and teaching about the Yampa. They were always eager to answer questions and lead hikes despite all of their hard work manning the rafts and wrangling us guests. We were treated to multiple wildlife sightings as well--more bighorn sheep than I

have ever seen, bald eagles, a golden eagle, mule deer, songbirds, hummingbirds. The geology of the Yampa, Whirlpool canyon, and Split Mountain are fascinating. And don't forget the stars! Our trip was made so much richer by river historian Roy Webb who joined us. Each evening, Roy would give us the history of the river section we had just completed and cover a topic such as the Powell Expeditions or the Echo Park dam project. I highly recommend adventuring with Holiday, especially on one of their "special interest" departures with a life-long historian and passionate river runner like Roy.

 by Peter and Colleen Gowen

I had previously done two trips with Holiday, most recently the

Yampa 2 years ago and did not nee the website for planning this trip. A well-run trip by competent guides who clearly enjoyed what they were doing.