Retro River Rafting on the Yampa River w/Roy Webb


Yampa Retro River Rafting – About This Trip


Sierra Cups, Chuck-Taylors, Cut-off jean shorts & MORE! There are so many unique quirks that are iconic of the ‘golden era’ of rafting, the years when Holiday River Exp. founder Dee Holladay started his business. There are some things we have changed since those days for the better: propane stoves for reliable cooking, waist-high tables, buckets & bags instead of rocket-boxes, fire-pits & blankets to clean-up after ourselves and many leave no trace policies that were instituted , in part with experimentation and help from Dee. But we figured some of those vintage touches would be fun to bring back for one trip only in 2020. Take a journey back through time with us on the glorious Yampa River & find a taste of what boating was like back in the 70’s. To top it all off, Roy Webb - the authority on River History- will be joining us to bring the past back to life.

Roy grew up in Farmington, NM on the banks of the San Juan and Animas Rivers, his childhood home bordering the Navajo Nation. He has run all of the Green river, most of the Colorado, the San Juan, the White River, and many other rivers in the Western United States. He has written four books and many articles and book reviews, virtually all, with a few exceptions, on the history of river running in Utah and the Intermountain West. He has spent his life researching the vast collection of river history &, taught classes on river running history for the University of Utah. Roy is essential THE expert on Western Rivers and we are quite lucky to have him join us for this maiden voyage into the history of retro rafting!

Yampa River Rafting Trip

Trip Overview


Location: Yampa River - Dinosaur National Monument
Type: Rafting
Length: 5 Days
Dates: June 5-9, 2020
Meet At: Vernal, UT 8:00 AM
Rating: Intermediate
Age Min: 8
Deposit: $300


  • Truly wild rapids fed by seasonal snow melt
  • Endless winding bends of dramatic striped canyon walls
  • Abundant wildlife in a beautiful and healthy ecosystem
  • Many inflatable kayak–friendly rapids
  • Float through seldom-seen corners of Dinosaur National Monument
  • See the Milky Way in this International Dark Sky Park

Trip Price & Departure Dates

5-Day Trip

Price Per Person $1,130

+$27 NPS Fees per person.

2020 Trip 
June 5-9, 2020

Trip Slideshow


Full Gallery



Rafting the Yampa River means riding the wild lifeblood of the whole Colorado River system. We join its currents at Deerlodge Park in northwestern Colorado and ride its waves till the confluence of the Green River; from there we meander through historic Whirlpool Canyon and cross the border into Utah. The quiet of Island Park prepares us for the final crescendo of Split Mountain before departing the river at the southern boundary of Dinosaur National Monument.



We say the Yampa is WILD, and it is. Each trip will be different depending on weather, the interests of our passengers, assigned campsites, and the need to be considerate of other river users. This sample itinerary illustrates a four-day trip on the Yampa River. In June, due to lower water levels, we lengthen the Yampa trip by one day and follow this general itinerary.

Day 1: Please arrive at Holiday's headquarters in Vernal, Utah, at 8:00 a.m., Mountain Time. We will issue your waterproof bags, show you how to pack them, and give you time to buy any last minute items from our on-site store (see our packing checklist for items you can find at our store). From Vernal, it's a 90-minute van ride to the put-in at Deerlodge Park in Colorado. After preparing the rafts and getting you oriented, we'll push off and begin to move on river time. We'll enter Yampa Canyon almost immediately, and encounter several fun, splashy rapids. Lunch may be on a beach near a historic cabin. Make camp and fall asleep to the sound of rushing water.

Day 2: Hike to a wide cave where ancient indigenous people left signs of their presence. Follow the river's entrenched meanders past the 1,200-foot Grand Overhang. Listen for the screech of hunting peregrine falcons that nest on the canyon rim. Carefully kiss the Tiger Wall: it's sure to bring good luck for your run through Warm Springs Rapid, the biggest of the trip.

Day 3: This morning may include a silent float as we approach the confluence with the Green River at Echo Park. Dip your toes into the place where the rivers meet and watch the different colored-water flow side by side for a surprising distance. The geology changes dramatically as we float through the Mitten Park Fault and into Whirlpool Canyon. Spend the afternoon at Jones Hole Creek: fishing, hiking, petroglyphs, big horn sheep, and waterfalls are all possibilities.

Day 4: Choose to paddle an inflatable kayak through the last several miles of calm water in Island Park. We'll follow the river as it makes a sharp left turn and cuts its way into the aptly named Split Mountain. The river drops an average of almost 20 feet per mile for the last eight miles. Enjoy your last several rapids before we pause for lunch and finally arrive at the boat ramp. We'll load the boats and then transport you the final 35 minutes back to our warehouse in Vernal. We typically plan to arrive back at our headquarters by approximately 4:00 p.m.

Our five-day Yampa River trip follows the same general itinerary with minor changes depending on campsites and water flows. Your second day may not yet find you at an ancestral site but rather on a hike to a stunning overlook or historic cave. On the third day your route will begin to resemble the four-day itinerary more closely.

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


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