Cataract Canyon Stargazing & Rafting Trips
Stargazing & Rafting on the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon – About this Trip
The Colorado River through Cataract Canyon traverses one of the most spectacular red rock landscapes in the desert southwest. By day, float through sandstone spires, massive eroded cliffs, and towering buttes. At night, let your eyes tune in to the equally spectacular star-scape, visible in stunning clarity from the bottom of Canyonlands National Park, an International Dark Sky Park.
Cataract Canyon is famous for its whitewater rapids, but the calm water that leads up to the rapids is special in its own way: the easy pace that begins the trip is the perfect antidote to modern life. The first few days in the canyon invite quiet meditation and allow for plenty of solo paddling in inflatable kayaks or on stand-up paddleboards. The flat water lets the suspense build. By the time we reach the rapids, you'll be deeply in tune with the flow of the river, ready to ride out the big waves and steep drops.
Swim, play, and float your way through the heart of Canyonlands, and learn a little bit about the world around you, whether you're hiking to see ancient rock art or staring through binoculars at the Andromeda Galaxy.
Location: Cataract Canyon - Canyonlands National Park
Type: Rafting/ Naturalist
Length: 6 Days
Dates: September 14-19, 2020
Meet At: Green River, UT 8:00 AM
Age Min: 8
- Float through hard-to-access regions of Canyonlands National Park
- Oar-powered rafts preserve the peace of the river corridor
- See the Milky Way arcing above steep canyon walls
- Easy, calm water for paddling inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddleboards
- Ride through walls of water down some of the biggest drops in North America
Trip Price & Departure Date
6 Day Trip
$1,285 per person
2020 Trip Date
Trip SlideshowFull Gallery
Most Cataract Canyon trips begin on the Colorado River downstream of Moab, Utah, and float into the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Continue past the confluence with the Green River, and into some of the most rugged canyon topography in the desert southwest. The rapids come in quick succession before the river enters Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Our take-out point is near the old Hite Marina.
Our itineraries can vary—it's never boring out there! Weather, the interests of our passengers, and available campsites mean that every trip is unique. Here's a sample itinerary for a possible five-day trip through Cataract Canyon. From August to September, we lengthen the trip by one day.
Pre-trip meeting: Please plan to arrive at our Green River, Utah, headquarters at 8:00 p.m. Mountain Time the night before your trip. We'll give you your waterproof bags and take care of preliminary business, making it easier to get on the river the next morning. This is a good time to purchase any last minute items at our on-site store (see our packing checklist for a list of items we carry). You may also drop off personal beverages (beer, specialty soda, wine, etc.) for us to pack into our coolers.
Day 1: Please arrive at the pre-arranged meeting time promptly, with your bags packed and ready to go. We'll load up into our vans for the 90-minute ride to the Potash boat ramp, not far from the town of Moab. River time starts now! It's a gentle float below the massive tabletop mesas and buttes of Dead Horse State Park and the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands. Watch the canyon wall for the rock we call "God's Golfball", and go on a short hike to see a remarkably exposed collection of petrified wood.
Day 2: Refresh yourself with a swim along the sandy-bottomed river, or start a playful water fight. The river is quiet here. We'll stop for a hike to a rock art panel, or perhaps scramble up to an overlook beneath the imposing Airport Butte. Camp on a massive sandbar island and enjoy the singularly rare experience of simply watching night fall.
Day 3: Float silently as we push off into the current this morning. Feel your senses come alive without the distraction of conversation. Look downstream and see who can spot the confluence with the Green River first. Some cultures believe this is the center of the universe. Watch the red and white spires of The Doll House come into view, high above on the right-hand cliff. Camp below the first rapid or just above it.
Day 4: If conditions allow, we may start the day with the steep climb to the rim and into The Doll House, where we'll find a surreal landscape of standing rocks, fins, and rich desert life. Post-hike, it's time for rapids! Splash through Baseball Diamond, Upset, and Ben Hurt before arriving at the biggest of them all: the Big Drops. Thirty feet of elevation loss in three-quarters of a mile!
Day 5: Enjoy one last cup of coffee on the beach before tackling the last few rapids: Imperial, The Chute, Waterhole, and more. The transition between river and reservoir means that the lower rapids are constantly changing. We're officially in Lake Powell. When the reservoir is low, we'll row to the take out. When it's high, we'll get a motorized assist across the lake from our small "Seldom Seen" motorboat. Take in the last views of the unbelievably tall, smooth walls of the lower canyon before we float under the Hite Narrows Bridge and to the boat ramp. It's a spectacular two-hour drive back to Green River for a return time of 5:00–6:00 p.m.
The itinerary for the six-day Cataract Canyon trip is similar, although with changing water levels you may expect to spend an extra day in the upper canyon, or taking your time through the rapids of the lower canyon.
Please keep in mind that this is a sample itinerary and not an exact description of your trip. The intent is to give a general idea of what your trip may entail. Rest assured, if you're not doing these things, it's because you're doing other amazing things! It's why our motto is "Go With the Flow"!