Warm Springs Rapid

Warm Springs Rapid in high water

Are you looking for a wild ride? The Yampa River offers just that! As the last undammed river in the Colorado River system, the Yampa rises to epic proportions in big run-off months May and June. What does that mean for you? The Yampa River delivers thrills, chills, possibly spills, and a whole lotta fun as you holler and grin during your Colorado river rafting vacation on this rip-snorter of a river.

Holiday’s Yampa River trip totals 71 miles, 46 of which are on the Yampa itself (the rest are on the Green River when we merge with it at Echo Park). The Warm Springs Rapid, formed in 1965 by a flash flood, is one of the country’s top ten toughest rapids to run. Holiday guides have plenty of experience with the whitewater of the free-flowing Yampa. Rafting Colorado water like this is an adventure you will always remember!

Trip specifics

Light on the canyon walls

Light on the canyon walls

Average Flows:

The Yampa River has an average water flow of 2,500 CFS (cubic feet per second). Hit it up in the months of May and June and hold onto your hat for a wild ride. When the snow starts melting, the Yampa gets to booming. See current water flow conditions at the USGS site.


Jones Hole Creek is a great little area where you might spend part of a day exploring, strolling around, swimming, or even casting a line to do some fishing. Ancient petroglyphs dot the area, inviting speculation as to the lives of the long-ago Indian inhabitants who left their sometimes cryptic figures and depictions in the rock walls. A waterfall also splashes down here and makes for a great photo spot.

Side Canyon Hiking

Side Canyon Hiking to ruins

Historical Significance:

Ute Indians made the Yampa River area their home for thousands of years. Their petroglyphs and pictographs remain today as a testament to their lives here. One food they ate was the yampa plant, also known as wild carrot. Fur trappers and settlers later utilized the canyon during westward explorations. The Yampa flows right through Dinosaur National Monument, which expanded in 1930 in order to include the river and all its resources. As one of the country’s last mostly undammed rivers today, the Yampa offers valuable information to hydrologists, biologists, and geologists studying the natural course and effects of a natural river.

Who will enjoy this trip most:

Adventurous families, groups of friends, corporate getaways—anyone who’s keen to set off on a river the way nature intended it, whitewater and all, will enjoy rafting the Yampa. One of the country’s biggest whitewater rapids can be found when river rafting the Yampa, so anyone who wants to check out this trip should be ready for that. Beautiful, calmer spots spent floating between 2,000-foot canyon walls appeal to everyone who appreciates the gorgeous scenery of canyon rivers.


Paddle Rafting


Fun facts:

  1. In Colorado, the Yampa flows right through Dinosaur National Monument.
  2. The Yampa River is one of the most biologically intact rivers in the U.S., meaning its local flora and fauna are the original, authentic deal.
  3. Fun rock formations are seen along the way: Cleopatra’s Couch, Tiger Wall, The Grand Overhang.
  4. River legend has it that for good luck running Warm Springs Rapid you must stop and kiss Tiger Wall.
  5. Not so fun fact: The Yampa is in danger from the water-thirsty Front Range of Colorado.  Check out Friends of the Yampa to see what you can do to help.   It all begins with water conservation!

Julie Trevelyan

Written by Julie Trevelyan.

Julie is a freelance writer and wilderness guide in southern Utah. She especially enjoys books, coffee, yoga, wild country, horses, and dark chocolate.

See more of her work at www.wildgirlwriting.com