Yampa River Rafting Trip with Utah Open Lands

In partnership with Utah Open Lands, Holiday is excited to offer this 5-day Yampa River expedition where we will be joined by river and water advocates. This year’s theme will be “A Celebration of Land & Water”. Wendy Fisher, Executive Director of Utah Open Lands, and Zachary Frankel, Executive Director of Utah Rivers Council, will accompany us and facilitate discussions, answer questions, and share insights about conservation work in Utah as well as the missions of their respective organizations. As you descend the Colorado Plateau’s last truly wild river, you’ll be joined by like-minded individuals and in the capable hands of Holiday’s professional guides who will allow you to truly unwind and unplug. In addition to enjoying the breathtaking scenery and thrilling whitewater, you will learn from the experts about conservation strategies, the current state of Utah’s protected lands, and what the future holds for the places we cherish. Each evening, you will hear Wendy recite passages from her essay “Accommodating, Managing and Sustaining the Wild”.

Adventures are plentiful on the Yampa River, with hikes to awe-inspiring overlooks as well as historical sites, opportunities to paddle inflatable kayaks, picturesque camping on gorgeous sandy beaches, and gourmet meals prepared right before your eyes. For all the night owls, take in the Milky Way and count the constellations in this designated Dark Skies region. Dinosaur National Monument is one of the best kept secrets of the west, and this unique opportunity is an ideal way to explore the park while learning important context about the lands we love. Holiday is proud to support our public lands and the organizations, like Utah Open Lands, that stand to protect them.

More about Utah Open Lands

Utah Open LandsUtah Open Lands is a 501c(3) nonprofit land trust conservation association that works with landowners and partners across the state of Utah – helping individuals, families, municipalities, and organizations achieve their conservation goals. They aim “to preserve, protect and steward open space in order to maintain Utah’s natural heritage and quality of life for present and future generations”. UOL was established in 1990 and focuses its efforts to assist in preserving land areas for their agricultural, scenic, recreational, historic, and wildlife values.

Wendy FisherWendy Fisher – Executive Director, Utah Open Lands

Wendy has been with the Utah Open Lands since its inception in 1990.  Utah Open Lands is Utah’s statewide land trust and has protected over 64,000 acres throughout the state.  Utah Open Lands and Wendy have been recognized as a leader in conservation efforts in Utah. Wendy has served on various legislative task forces looking at agricultural, trail and open space preservation. 


Zachary Frankel Zachary Frankel – Executive Director, Utah Rivers Council 
Zach Frankel received his B.S. in Biology at the University of Utah and is the Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council, which he founded in 1994. Zach has led many exciting campaigns to protect Utah’s rivers and is an expert on water policy in Utah. Zach lives with his family and their horses in the Salt Lake Valley and enjoys writing, making short films and all manner of outdoor sports.

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

Vernal, Utah: Things to Do and Places to Explore

Featured Review:

“Great trip! The balance of hikes and time on the river was perfect. Guides were very helpful and flexible. Only one complaint…the food was so good that I didn’t lose any weight.” (Robert DeLapaz)

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.
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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    Yampa River - Dinosaur National Monument

  • Length:

    5 Days

  • Dates:

    June 10-14

  • Meet at:

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

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Deposit:



  • Exhilarating whitewater from seasonal snow melt
  • Unique and breathtaking canyon walls around every bend
  • Wildlife of all kinds abound in this remote area of the west
  • Opportunities to paddle kayaks through splashy whitewater rapids
  • Explore Dinosaur National Monument the best way possible
  • Peer out through the galaxy in this International Dark Sky Park
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

5 Day

  • Adult:
  • $1,905
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $1,905
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $1,905
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $1,905
Book This Trip
Check Availability
  • June 10-14

*Please note, rates do not include the $27 land use fee.


The headwaters of the Yampa River begin with snowmelt in the mountains near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This wild river then flows into the remote recesses of Dinosaur National Monument in northwestern Colorado. From Deerlodge Park, the start of the trip, the river winds through breathtaking canyons and endless rapids for over 40 miles before reaching the Green River in Echo Park. From there, the Yampa joins the Green and meanders through the awe-inspiring canyons of Whirlpool and Split Mountain, each filled with fun rapids and amazing vistas.

Sample Itinerary

The evening before your trip: Please join us at Holiday’s headquarters in Vernal, Utah, at 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time for a brief pre-trip orientation meeting. You’ll pick up your waterproof bags, learn how to pack them, and learn the general itinerary for your first day. This is also a chance to buy any last minute items from our store on-site (see our packing checklist for items you can find at our store).

Day 1:

Meet back at our Vernal headquarters early in the morning, packed and ready to go! After loading your bags up, it’s time to head off to the river. From Vernal, it’s a scenic 90-minute van ride over the state-line in Colorado to the put-in at Deerlodge Park. After your guides have prepared the rafts and given the group an orientation, we’ll push off and transition to “river time”. The canyon walls emerge almost immediately, and we’ll encounter several fun, splashy rapids. Lunch will be prepared and may be enjoyed on a beach near a historic cabin. After some more scenic and splashy river miles, we’ll pull over for camp. Before choosing your tent site for the night, you’ll learn how to help fire line bags from the boats as well as learn the camp layout. Indulge in your first camp dinner, participate in engaging conversation, and listen to a recitation from the author herself before laying down with the stars and fallings asleep to the sounds of rushing water.

Day 2:

River mornings will get going early! But don’t fret, as the guides will have coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to help you get moving, served with a smile and a joke. After the group enjoys a delicious breakfast, we’ll pack up the boats and head downstream, stopping to hike at a horse wrangler’s cabin, or possibly to a wide cave where historic river runners and early settlers left signs of their presence. Get lost in the river’s entrenched meanders and marvel as you float past the 1,200-foot Grand Overhang. Listen and look out for the screeching peregrine falcons that nest near the canyon rim. Try and count the many bighorn sheep as they come to the waters edge to drink, or tiptoe their way along the cliff edge. At camp, enjoy a game of horseshoes, connect with like-minded individuals, or soak in the natural sounds around you with a good book.

Day 3:

Keep your hiking shoes accessible for the chance to see remarkable indigenous ruins where ancient peoples stored food for the long winter. Be sure to scan the canyon walls for painted figures left by the canyon’s earliest inhabitants. Carefully give a smooch to the Tiger Wall, for good luck: you’ll want it for your run through Warm Springs Rapid, the largest of the trip! When the guides pull over to take a look at the rapid and discuss the proper run, take advantage of the chance to see the river through expert eyes, and stand on the very rocks that helped form this historic rapid. Soak in the revelry at camp during the last night in the Yampa canyon.

Day 4:

With Warm Springs Rapid behind us, we may embrace the peacefulness of the canyon this morning with a silent float as we approach the confluence with the Green River at Echo Park. The perfect way to activate all your senses and become one with this magical canyon, silent floats can be transcendental experiences. Be sure to dip your toes into the confluence of these two great rivers and watch the different colored-waters slowly merge. Experience the rocks that every Geology 101 textbook describes as we travel through the Mitten Park Fault and float into Whirlpool Canyon. Jones Hole Creek is a probable afternoon destination with fishing, hiking, petroglyphs, big horn sheep, and waterfalls as all possibilities!

Day 5:

Listen as your river guide shares a reading from a historic river runner before embarking on the final day on the water. If you haven’t already, paddle an inflatable kayak through the several miles of calm water in Island Park. From here, the river makes a sharp left turn and cuts its way into the aptly named Split Mountain. The gradient of the river steepens to an average drop of almost 20 feet per mile for these last eight miles, making for a thrilling whitewater ride. After pausing for lunch, we will reach the Split Mountain boat ramp that marks the end of the journey on the river. We’ll load the boats onto trailers and then drive you the final 25 minutes back to our headquarters in Vernal. Our typical schedule allows us to arrive back in town by approximately 4:00 p.m.


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

Yampa - Utah Open Roads camp tent

The Yampa is WILD, truly! Each and every trip will be different depending on weather, the interests of our passengers, assigned campsites in the park, and the need to be considerate of other river users.

Our five-day Yampa River trips follow the same general itinerary with minor changes depending on those factors. One day may not entail a hike at an ancestral site but rather a jaunt to a stunning overlook or historic cave. You’ll typically encounter the Tiger Wall and Warm Springs Rapid on the third day, and meet up with the Green River on the fourth. Day five will take you through Island Park and finish up with the whitewater of Split Mountain.


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