Fall Canyonlands National Park Stargazing & Hiking Trip

Join us on this fall extended hiking and stargazing specialty trip as we approach Cataract Canyon from the Green River. Start above the sandstone cliff faces of Labyrinth Canyon and continue through Stillwater Canyon, all the way through Cataract. To spend 10 days in this landscape is a rare treat. This trip allows more time to explore the hidden side canyons of Canyonlands National Park and the magnificent public lands that surround it. More days means more time for hiking, floating, swimming, and playing on stand-up paddleboards and inflatable kayaks.

Fall is the best season for desert exploring and stargazing. Mild weather makes longer hikes more enjoyable. And the nights are beginning to get longer, which means you don’t have to stay up so late to enjoy the stars! Tom Beckett, Holiday’s resident star expert, will join us in Stillwater and Cataract to share his expertise. And we’re pleased to announce that certified yoga instructor Jennifur Gillmore will also be a part of the Stillwater/Cataract portion.

This trip includes both relaxing calm water and thrilling whitewater. Cataract is famous for its rapids, but the quiet of Labyrinth and Stillwater create a delicious sense of building suspense. We’ll travel through three distinct canyons, and watch the landscape shift as we float. These canyons are rich with cultural history, as well. Our days will be spent visiting prehistoric and historic sites and hearing the stories of the people who came here before us. And at night, we’ll look up and discover the stories that these same people have told for millennia about the stars. This fall extended hiking and stargazing trip has a little bit of everything.

Want to learn more? Check out our Insider’s Guides to Labyrinth Canyon and Cataract Canyon.

Book This Trip

Trip Overview

  • Type:

    Naturalist

  • Location:

    Green River - Canyonlands National Park

  • Length:

    10 Days

  • Dates:

    September 10–19, 2020

  • Meet at:

    Green River, Utah @ 8:00 am

  • Difficulty:

    Intermediate

  • Min. Age:

    12

  • Deposit:

    300

Highlights

  • Longer trip means more time for hiking
  • Experience world-class dark skies with an expert star guide
  • Play on stand-up paddleboards in the calm water
  • Professional yoga instruction
Getting Here Before You Go Packing List FAQs

Rates & Dates

10 Days

  • Adult:
  • $2,025
  • Youth:
    18 and under
  • $2,025
  • Senior:
    65 and older
  • $2,025
  • Group:
    10 or more
  • $2,025
Book This Trip
Check Availability
2020
  • September
  • 10

Itinerary

South of the town of Green River, the river that lends the town its name embarks on a journey into deep, steep canyons. The Green River flows south, with the exception of a few meandering turns, first through the sheer-walled Labyrinth Canyon, then into the increasingly dramatic Stillwater Canyon. It enters Canyonlands National Park and continues on to its confluence with the Colorado. This is where the rapids begin. Ride the waves at the bottom of this massive, crumbling canyon, then follow the river into the northernmost part of Lake Powell, where our trip will end.

Typical Itinerary

Day 1–4: Labyrinth Canyon

We’ll start at our warehouse in Green River, Utah. Please arrive promptly at 8:00 a.m., Mountain Time, to pack your dry bags and purchase any last-minute items at our store (see our packing checklist for items we stock). We’ll aim to be in the vans by 9:00. Our journey could begin in one of two places, depending on the river’s flow and other variables. We could put in at the Green River State Park, which is a five-minute drive from our warehouse, and adds 24 river miles to our journey. Or, we could drive an hour and a half south to Ruby Ranch and the confluence with the San Rafael River.

Either way, the canyon rises up slowly, closing in around us as we transition from the purple and gray badlands of the Green River Desert to breathtaking red canyon walls. Enjoy swimming alongside the rafts, or some solo time on a stand-up paddleboard. Side hikes and excursions could include the exquisite side canyon at Trin-alcove Bend, the River Register and other historic inscriptions, the overlook at Bowknot Bend, and Hey Joe Canyon. Every day brings new culinary treats, too, as your professional guides pamper you with the best “camping” food you’ve ever had, in the most scenic restaurant imaginable! Around lunchtime on the fifth day, we’ll arrive at Mineral Bottom, the last place to put in or take out until below Cataract.

Day 5–6: Stillwater Canyon

Below Mineral Bottom, the character of the canyon changes. It widens, grows taller, then narrows again, encasing us in even more spectacular rock layers. The White Rim Sandstone appears and rises quickly above us. The river continues to move quietly, lulling us into a divine sense of relaxation. We’ll stop and hike to Ancestral Puebloan cultural sites: towers, granaries, and rock art dot the landscape. Hike over Turk’s Head, a future abandoned meander. We’ll explore side canyons, examine native plant species, and watch for great blue herons, big horn sheep, and peregrine falcons. In camp, choose to participate in an optional yoga session. And as night falls, let the rods in your eyes tune in to the starry world above us.

Days 7–9: Cataract Canyon

Enter the heart of Canyonlands National Park at the confluence of the Green and the Colorado rivers. This auspicious place marks the beginning of Cataract Canyon. We’ll float a few short miles of flat water before an ominous thunder starts to grow from downstream; the fated “cataracts” (old-fashioned word for waterfalls) are soon to come! Thirty plus rapids will quickly wake us up from our week of river meditation. Splash through huge wave-trains and dodge churning holes: Cataract’s rapids are worth the wait.

Day 10: Narrow & Glen Canyons

After the excitement of the rapids, we’ll spend our final day decompressing through Narrow Canyon, aptly named for the incredibly straight and austere walls that hug the river below. We’ll see the river begin to slow as its current is swallowed up by Lake Powell. If the reservoir is high, we’ll get an assist from our “Seldom Seen” motorboat. We’ll finish the trip near the former Hite Marina. A two-hour drive brings us back to Green River. Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m.

This is a sample itinerary, intended to give a general idea of how your trip may go. Each trip will be different depending on weather, the availability of campsites, the interests of the group, and countless other variables. Listed here are only some of the possible hikes or excursions that your trip could include. We invite you to arrive with an open mind and a willingness to embrace Holiday’s motto: “Go with the flow!”

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