by Julie Trevelyan

Sometimes, it’s all about speed. We’re short on time, but long on longing for adventure. We have a finite number of hours to fill, but by golly, we want those hours filled to the brim. Life is short, let’s see as much as we can. Don’t have 25 days to devote to the Grand Canyon? You can zip through it in one week. Now, we’re not absolutely knocking motor river rafting trips. Life is full, people are busy, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities sometimes come with tight time frames. For that reason, a motor trip can fulfill your needs. But for what we think is the deepest, richest, most relaxing river raft vacation you can choose, we love river rafting powered by oars. Why? See below for our top five reasons.

Yampa Stargazer Boating1) Experience a river canyon at the pace it was meant to be experienced.

Paddling along a river gives you time to see the flowers, catch sunlight glinting off the underside of a raven’s shiny wing, and admire the natural desert varnish streaking down the cliffs. Go with that flow, and enjoy it every ripple of the way.




Quite San Juan2) Savor the quiet.

Jet boats are loud. Really. In a canyon, their sound echoes and amplifies the noise even more. When a raft bobs along with only the sounds of paddles slicing through the water and laughter bouncing off the rock walls, it’s simply a more serene experience.





History Hikes on Desolation Canyon River Rafting Trips3) Go on a hike.

With their leisurely pace, oar-driven trips allow time for exploring the land-side of the canyons. Holiday guides are pretty savvy about the nearby trails, the best views, and the coolest ancient ruins tucked into the folds and bends of the canyons just out of sight of the rivers. We assure you, the hikes are sweet and breathtaking, and worth every step.



The Environment Bighorn Sheep4) Sneak up on the local wildlife rather than scare them away with motor sounds.

Most animals tend to scatter when they hear unmistakable sounds of humans nearby. A loud motor is a pretty surefire way to chase off those bighorn sheep, river otters, swooping blue herons. But cruising downstream in a raft the old-fashioned way means a less invasive approach, which means animals in or near the river are more likely to stay put. This is definitely how memories are made.




Colorado River Cataract Canyon Whitewater Rafting Trip5) You earn those views.

Human-powered paddling makes you sweat a bit, right? That means you’re earning this trip! Paddling raises your happy endorphins, and—bonus!—you can slip into the river for a cooling dunk after you and your companions exert those muscles. Somehow, the sights and sounds are that much sweeter when you’ve worked for them.


Julie TrevelyanWritten 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.

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