Desolation Canyon Stargazing


Desolation Canyon Stargazing – About This Trip


This Desolation Canyon river rafting trip, like its name implies, floats you through some of the most remote areas left in the continental United States.  the Tavaputs Plateau, through which the Green River cuts Desolation Canyon, boast one of the largest roadless wilderness areas in the American west; this is invaluable when we look towards the starry-skies.  Spend your days exploring outlaw hideouts, ancient indigenous cultural sites and consistent whitewater fun, and in the evenings let your mind expand alongside the universe around us. Using both binoculars and the naked eye, this trip will explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn constellations.

Tavaputs Plateau

Trip Overview


Location: Green River
Type: Rafting
Length: 5 Days
Dates: May 27-31, 2019
Meet At: Green River, UT 6:00 AM
Rating: Beginner
Age Min: 5
Deposit: $300


  • Pristine beaches with Cottonwood shade
  • Consistent and lively whitewater rapids
  • The best trip for Inflatable Kayak enthusiasts
  • Folklore galore with outlaws to moonshiners
  • wide canyon walls that open up a full canopy of stars

Trip Prices & Departure Dates


Regular Rate - $1,180
*Plus $35 Land fee per person

2019 Trip Date

May 27-31, 2019

Trip Slideshow

Full Gallery



Starting at Sand Wash put-in in the center of the Tavaputs Plateau, this 84 mile white water rafting trip into Desolation Canyon takes us on the ride of a lifetime and we will encounter over 60 rapids! The whitewater builds in intensity each day and finally leads you out of the Plateau at Swasey's take-out, just north of our Green River headquarters.



One of the advantages of a river trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary.  It can vary widely from one trip to the next based on group desires, Mother Nature, and courtesy for other groups on the river.  This typical itinerary illustrates a five-day trip through Desolation and Gray canyons.  In August, we lengthen the Desolation Canyon trip by one day and follow this general itinerary.

When you arrive in Green River the day before your trip, there will be a pre-trip orientation meeting at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time).  A Holiday representative will give you a short orientation on all aspects of river travel. At this time we will issue your waterproof bags, answer any questions you may have, and finalize your flight departure time for the trip. If you plan on buying any last minute items from our accessories store, please plan to do so at this time see our packing checklist for a list of items you can find at our store).  Special Note:  Due to the limited space and weight on the aircraft.  If you have any specialty sodas, beer, wine or other extra heavy items, please bring items to our headquarters by 2:00 p.m. the day prior to your trip.

Day 1:  On the morning of your trip, plan to arrive promptly at the predetermined time established at the pre-trip orientation meeting.  We will then take you to the local airstrip. Our pre scheduled flight will be waiting to take you to the embarkation point (30 minutes).  The flight is on a small single engine type aircraft. There is a 30-minute downhill hike from canyon rim to the rafts waiting at river bottom.  Plan ahead to wear appropriate shoes for the hike. Guests who are apprehensive about the hike can be transported by vehicle to the river. View a historical marker at head of Desolation Canyon before entering the isolated canyon passing Sumner’s amphitheater with incredible natural acoustics. Camp that night near Jack Creek.

Day 2:  Hike to one or more ancient Fremont cultural sites interspersed with sections of playful whitewater.  Bigger whitewater today includes Steer Ridge and Surprise rapid. Camp in a cottonwood grove or on a mile-long sandbar.

Day 3: Enjoy a tour of abandoned Rock Creek and later McPherson Ranches, where Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch slept. End your day with the wildest rapid in the canyon, Cow Swim. Born of a recent 2008 flash flood, it marks the former location of historic cattle ford.

Day 4:  Today brings continued whitewater fun with Wire Fence, Three Fords, and Coal Creek rapids. You will also cross over from Desolation to Gray Canyon.

Day 5:  We will run a half dozen more rapids before lunch and then take out near Swasey's beach. We will return you to Green River, Utah (30 minute van ride).  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!


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Holiday River Expeditions
Average rating:  
 7 reviews
by Mark and Debbie Dawson on Holiday River Expeditions

We had the best time in Desolation Canyon! The guides were wonderful - very friendly and knowledgeable. The campsites were always nice, well thought out location for the kitchen, bano and camp sites. Riding the rapids in the inflatable kayaks was a blast. We will definitely travel with Holiday again!

by Mary and John Enemark on Holiday River Expeditions

Our guides, Sam, Nick and Larkin were excellent. They worked together seamlessly setting up camp, making the meals, and providing all kinds of information while on the river. The evening stargazing with Scott was very educational.

by Chris Gorzalski on Holiday River Expeditions

This is my second Holiday trip and both were exceptional. I really enjoy how there were many ways to have fun on the river-duckies, floating in life vests, hiking, swimming as well as sightseeing on the oar boats. Your guides were easy to get to know and encouraging in activities. Their love of the river, especially from Susan was evident. I also loved getting to know more about dark skies from Jesse.

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