Yampa River Stargazing, Rafting & Camping Trip

Stargazing on the Yampa River! This trip will be a highlight of this year’s stargazing series. Both the Yampa and its dark skies are rare, endangered creatures. The Yampa is the only major river in the Colorado River system that isn’t regulated by a dam. And light pollution means that nearly 90% of the world’s population lives in places where they can no longer see the Milky Way. Holiday invites you to be a part of this unique trip. Experience the wild, untrammeled canyons of the Yampa River and the wonder and awe of a truly dark sky.

The Yampa River flows through Dinosaur National Monument, which was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2019. Ride the natural spring flood cycle of the Yampa through canyon walls so white they reflect the starlight. The Yampa River is a treasure chest of spectacular scenery, biodiversity, native flora and fauna, and rich cultural history. Most importantly, it’s the perfect place to escape from the bright, busy modern world. Rediscover what is possibly the most human experience of all: looking up into a truly dark sky and tracing the outlines of our cosmos. Join our resident star guide, Tom Beckett, and the rest of our professional crew for five days of stargazing on the Yampa River.

Read more about why the Yampa is WILD: Insider’s Guide to the Yampa River.

Featured Review:

“This was my first introduction to stargazing, and I’m hooked. Our guides and guests were a perfectly eclectic group that combined to make a truly excellent adventure. Tom (aka ‘The Star Lord’) took us on an incredible journey through the stars each night. Unforgettable in my book! The knowledge, humor, and skill (and, yes, patience) our guides demonstrated was top shelf, for sure. I would advise anyone contemplating their first trip to ‘come on in and go with the flow’. You won’t regret it.” (Carol Norquest)

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Trip Overview

  • Type:


  • Location:

    Yampa River - Dinosaur National Monument

  • Length:

    5 Days

  • Dates:

    June 12-16, 2023

  • Meet at:

    Vernal, UT @ 8:00 am

  • Difficulty:


  • Min. Age:


  • Deposit:



  • Stargazing in an International Dark Sky Park
  • Consistent, fun whitewater and a natural flood cycle
  • Great fun for inflatable kayaks
  • Deep, winding, colorful canyon walls
  • Abundant wildlife in a uniquely healthy ecosystem
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

5 Days

  • Adult:
  • $1,305
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $1,305
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $1,305
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $1,305
Book This Trip
Check Availability
  • June
  • 12-16

2023 Prices are subject to NPS approval


The Yampa River runs wild and free through northwestern Colorado, out of the mountains near Steamboat Springs, and into the canyons of Dinosaur National Monument. Our trips begin at Deer Lodge Park. From there, the Yampa flows for 47 miles through dramatic, multi-colored canyons before it meets the Green River in Echo Park. The two rivers merge gradually, crossing the Utah state line and traversing Whirlpool and Split Mountain canyons before emerging into agricultural land of the Uinta Basin.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1:

Meet your group at Holiday’s headquarters in Vernal, Utah (8:00 a.m., Mountain Time). This is when we’ll issue your waterproof bags and give you instructions on how to pack them. Buy any last minute items from our accessories store (see our packing checklist for a list of items you can find at our store) and then we’ll hit the road for the 90-minute drive to the put in at Deerlodge Park in Colorado. Once on the river, Yampa Canyon swallows us up, and we’re off! Rapids begin almost immediately: small, but splashy! We’ll pause for lunch along the shore, and set up camp in a grove of juniper trees just above Teepee Rapid.

Day 2:

“Hot coffee (and tea!)!” will be your wake-up call. Hold on tight for Teepee Rapid or challenge yourself to paddle it in an inflatable kayak. We’ll hit several more rapids on our way to lunch, and maybe go for a hike up Starvation Valley, the side canyon that feeds Big Joe, the second big rapid of the trip. Camp tonight at Harding Hole, where the white canyon walls are lower and wider, making for excellent stargazing conditions.

Day 3:

Another gourmet breakfast leads to a gentle float past The Grand Overhang and Cleopatra’s Couch. We may stop for lunch near an archaeological site. In the afternoon, we’ll float past Tiger Wall, a dramatically striped sandstone overhang. They say kissing it brings good luck; just a few miles downstream we’ll run Warm Springs Rapid. In 1965, a massive debris flow from Warm Springs Draw choked the Yampa with boulders, forming the river’s largest rapid. Celebrate our successful passage with a meal of chicken fajitas and homemade sopaipillas!

Day 4:

The Yampa joins the Green River at Echo Park, where the canyon widens and the rivers flow together around Steamboat Rock. Here the river enters Whirlpool Canyon. The afternoon may be spent hiking or lounging at Jones Hole Creek: a blue-ribbon trout stream with side canyon petroglyphs and a waterfall. We’ll camp downstream for one more night of stargazing. Count the stars in the Pleiades through binoculars, or use a telescope to see the rings of Saturn.

Day 5:

Enjoy a peaceful morning in Island and Rainbow parks before the river carries us into yet another massive gorge. The Green’s powerful forces have cut laterally through Split Mountain’s uplifted and colorful core. Rapids come one after the other all the way to the take out. After loading up the boats and gear, it’s a 30-minute ride back to Vernal. Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is about 4:00 p.m.

Please note: 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. Keep an open mind, be flexible, go with the flow, and enjoy!

Yampa Stargazer Scenery

Any trip on a wild river will be changeable by nature. Every Yampa trip will be a little bit different based on the campsites we are assigned, the interests of your group, weather, and the need to be considerate of other groups on the river. This sample itinerary illustrates one possible five-day Yampa River trip.


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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 1 reviews
 by Shawn & Heather O'Kane

The guides and food were so much better than expected!!! Thank you! It was the perfect introduction to a multi-night rafting trip! The food was beyond what we had hoped for. The guides were thoughtful and very friendly!