White Rim Trail & Cataract Canyon Stargazing Trip
White Rim Trail & Cataract Canyon Stargazing Trip – About This Trip
Holiday's White Rim Trail and Cataract Canyon stargazing trip combines the best of all possible outdoor adventures: fun bicycling, easy flat water floating, and exhilarating whitewater, all of it above, within, and below the epic red rock scenery and exquisite dark skies of Canyonlands National Park. Certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association for the exceptional quality of its dark skies, Canyonlands provides a wilderness and dark sky experience unlike anywhere else in Utah. Spend the first few days of your vacation pedaling along the iconic White Rim Trail around the park's Island in the Sky district, camping beneath massive, open skies uninterrupted by canyon walls or man-made light. See the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors light up the night, and learn the constellations.
Midway through your backcountry getaway, hop off the saddle and into a raft to peer up at the same magnificent scenery, now from deep inside the heart of the park: Cataract Canyon. Days on the river include meditative floating, hikes to secret side canyons, as well as some of the biggest whitewater in the desert Southwest. At night, the stars take on a whole new perspective, cradled between two canyon walls. Listen to stories and folklore about the constellations and deepen your understanding of the night sky with a star guide from Clark Planetarium as well as Holiday's expert interpretive guide team.
Location: White Rim Trail & Green River - Canyonlands National Park
Length: 7 Days
Dates: Sep 28–Oct 4
Meet At: Green River, Utah 7:00 a.m.
Rating: Intermediate & Advanced
Age Min: 12
- Moab's quintessential multi-day ride
- Fully catered trip includes 4x4 support vehicle on biking portion
- Bike and raft in an International Dark Sky Park
- Oar-powered rafts (no motors)
- Equally relaxing and exhilarating
- Spectacular campsites on mesa tops and river beaches
- Opportunities to use inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddle boards
Trip Price & Departure Date
$10 Park Entrance Fee
2019 Trip Date
Sep 28 - Oct 4
Enter Canyonlands National Park at its northeastern corner, just south of Moab, Utah. Ride clockwise around the Island in the Sky along the White Rim Trail, halfway between the top of the plateau and the river bottom. Meet the rafts near Potato Bottom on the third day, then float the flat water of the Green River to its confluence with the Colorado. From there it's another 45 river miles and over 30 rapids through Cataract Canyon and into the northern end of Lake Powell. End your journey just downstream of the confluence with the Dirty Devil River.
One of the advantages of a biking/rafting trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary. Trips vary widely based on group desires and abilities, Mother Nature, assigned and available campsites, and the need to be considerate of other groups in the area. This sample itinerary illustrates a typical bike trip along the White Rim Trail and raft trip through Cataract Canyon via the Green River. Seasonal variations in water flows will also dictate where and when the transfer between bikes to rafts will occur. In May, high water means the rafts will collect riders mid- to late-afternoon of the third day. In September, the bikers will meet up with the rafts prior to lunch on the third day.
Day 1: Our adventure begins at Holiday's warehouse in Green River, Utah at 7:00 a.m. Mountain Time. You'll be issued your waterproof bags and have time to pack and pick up any last minute items from our store. Before we head out we'll complete a pre-trip inspection of your bikes. If you plan to ride your own bike, it must be in good repair. We recommend getting it professionally serviced before the trip. Guests with bikes that fail our inspection will be asked to rent a Holiday bike for $170.00/person.
We'll drive east and south for two hours toward Moab and Canyonlands along the base of the Book Cliffs and the edge of Arches National Park. Once in the park, our bike ride begins with an awesome downhill along the switchbacks of the Shafer Trail and onto the white rim sandstone itself. The rest of the day's riding is mostly gentle, with a short climb up Airport Pass to our campsite at Gooseberry. Take a solar shower, eat a gourmet dinner, and enjoy the rare experience of simply watching night fall.
Day 2: More gentle ups and downs with plenty of opportunities to pause and peer over the edge of the rim into the massive basins and canyons below us. We'll also tackle Murphy's Hogback today, one of the bigger uphills of the trip. Ride as much as you can or walk it, either way you'll be rewarded with an unbelievable view from top of the hill.
Day 3: Fast riding today. Whizz past Candlestick Tower and take a quick trip out across the Black Crack to check out the river you'll soon be joining. Transfer to the rafts either just before or just after lunch, and refresh yourself with a post-ride float in the smooth water of Stillwater Canyon.
Day 4: Relish the quiet and ease of moving on river time. Watch the graceful flight of great blue herons from your perch on the raft, or paddle your own inflatable kayak or stand-up paddle board. Check out thousand-year-old structures left by Native Americans or hike to a rock covered with petroglyphs. At night, use binoculars to locate the Andromeda Galaxy and fall asleep listening to the sound of moving water.
Day 5: Wake to your guides calling you to hot coffee and breakfast, then float on to the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. Strap on your personal flotation device and swim where the two rivers meet. From there, rapids are just around the corner. Notice the way the rock layers begin to change and crumble as we descend into Cataract. We'll camp beneath the eerie sandstone pillars of the Doll House, a remote corner of the Maze District.
Day 6: Conditions permitting, we may be able to go on an early morning hike into the Doll House. It's a steep climb, but the scenery is worth it. If it's clear, you can see all the way to the La Sal Mountains in Moab. Climb back down to the river and get ready for whitewater: over thirty rapids, including the Big Drop, one of the biggest rapids in North America.
Day 7: There may be a few more rapids to run this morning, but much of the day will be calm as we transition from river to reservoir. The canyon walls continue to rise above us, hemming in the sky. When Lake Powell is full, the reservoir water backs up into the lower reaches of Cataract and we'll get a little push across the lake water from a small motor boat, the "Seldom Seen". When you see the bridge, you'll know we're at the end. We take out near Hite Marina, just downstream from the confluence with the Dirty Devil River. It's a two-hour van ride back to Green River; we typically return to our headquarters between 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
As mentioned earlier, this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the exact 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!
***The Bicycling: For much of the 65 miles you'll bike you'll encounter gentle, hard-packed doubletrack with a few significant climbs, steep downhills, and areas of loose rock and sand. The most technically challenging sections are short and can be easily walked.
Riders who are not accustomed to off-road bicycling, or who do not have a basic level of fitness will most likely find this trip challenging. We strongly encourage all riders to prepare for the trip by riding their bike on a regular basis leading up to the trip.