Desolation Canyon River Rafting

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Green River Rafting Desolation Canyon – About This Trip

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Green river rafting through Desolation Canyon takes you and your family on a thrilling adventure through some of the most remote parts of the continental United States; The Tavaputs Plateau. This refuge was home to the Fremont Indians for thousands of years and later became a hideout for some of America’s most notorious outlaws.  You’ll find a remarkable array of wildlife accented by tall rainbow colored cliffs sculpted by centuries of wind and water.

This not so desolate canyon is teeming with Bighorn Sheep and Birds of Prey. As the Green River flows through Desolation Canyon, it is peppered with groves of cottonwood trees and white sand beaches. These canyons abound with caves and ancient petroglyphs, and archaeologists have been visiting the area for many years uncovering it’s amazing history. Such rich stories and consistently fun whitewater make Desolation Canyon the perfect trip for families.

Trip Overview

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Location: Green River
Type: Rafting
Length: 5 and 6 Days
Dates: May - August
Meet At: Green River, UT 6:00 AM
Rating: Beginner
Age Min: 5
Deposit: $300

Highlights

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  • Pristine beaches with Cottonwood shade
  • Consistent and lively whitewater rapids
  • The best trip for Inflatable Kayak enthusiasts
  • Folklore galore with outlaws to moonshiners
  • Deep canyon walls putting things in perspective

Trip Prices & Departure Dates

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5-Day
Adult - $1,180
Youth - $980 (18 & under)
Senior/ Group - $1,085 (65 & up) (10 or more)

6-Day
Adult - $1,255
Youth- $1,055 (18 & under) 
Senior/ Group - $1,160 (65 & up) (10 or more)

*Plus $25 BLM fee per person

2019 Trip Dates

5 Day Trip Dates
May 6, 13, 20, 27
June 3, 10, 17, 24
July 1, 8, 15

6 Day Trip Dates
July 22, 29
August 5

Trip Slideshow

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Full Gallery

Map

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Starting at Sand Wash put-in in the center of the Tavaputs Plateau, this 84 mile white water rafting trip into Desolation Canyon takes us on the ride of a lifetime and we will encounter over 60 rapids! The whitewater builds in intensity each day and finally leads you out of the Plateau at Swasey's take-out, just north of our Green River headquarters.

Itinerary

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One of the advantages of a river trip is the flexibility of the daily itinerary.  It can vary widely from one trip to the next based on group desires, Mother Nature, and courtesy for other groups on the river.  This typical itinerary illustrates a five-day trip through Desolation and Gray canyons.  In August, we lengthen the Desolation Canyon trip by one day and follow this general itinerary.

When you arrive in Green River the day before your trip, there will be a pre-trip orientation meeting at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time).  A Holiday representative will give you a short orientation on all aspects of river travel. At this time we will issue your waterproof bags, answer any questions you may have, and finalize your flight departure time for the trip. If you plan on buying any last minute items from our accessories store, please plan to do so at this time see our packing checklist for a list of items you can find at our store).  Special Note:  Due to the limited space and weight on the aircraft.  If you have any specialty sodas, beer, wine or other extra heavy items, please bring items to our headquarters by 2:00 p.m. the day prior to your trip.

Day 1:  On the morning of your trip, plan to arrive promptly at the predetermined time established at the pre-trip orientation meeting.  We will then take you to the local airstrip. Our pre scheduled flight will be waiting to take you to the embarkation point (30 minutes).  The flight is on a small single engine type aircraft. There is a 30-minute downhill hike from canyon rim to the rafts waiting at river bottom.  Plan ahead to wear appropriate shoes for the hike. Guests who are apprehensive about the hike can be transported by vehicle to the river. View a historical marker at head of Desolation Canyon before entering the isolated canyon passing Sumner’s amphitheater with incredible natural acoustics. Camp that night near Jack Creek.

Day 2:  Hike to one or more ancient Fremont cultural sites interspersed with sections of playful whitewater.  Bigger whitewater today includes Steer Ridge and Surprise rapid. Camp in a cottonwood grove or on a mile-long sandbar.

Day 3: Enjoy a tour of abandoned Rock Creek and later McPherson Ranches, where Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch slept. End your day with the wildest rapid in the canyon, Cow Swim. Born of a recent 2008 flash flood, it marks the former location of historic cattle ford.

Day 4:  Today brings continued whitewater fun with Wire Fence, Three Fords, and Coal Creek rapids. You will also cross over from Desolation to Gray Canyon.

Day 5:  We will run a half dozen more rapids before lunch and then take out near Swasey's beach. We will return you to Green River, Utah (30 minute van ride).  Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

If you are on a 6-day Desolation Canyon trip, you can expect a similar itinerary to this 5-day.  However with lower late-season river flows and an extra day to play, you can expect to see a whole new set of campsites than your 5-day counterparts. Day 1 could leave you near Gold Hole, across from a historic Powell campsite where wild horses often play; night two could find you settling in bellow massive cottonwoods at Cedar Ridge; Day 3 typically brings you back to a more typical camp schedule seeing similar camps to the 2nd day of a 5-day trip.

As mentioned earlier, this is a sample itinerary and should not be thought of as the 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!

Reviews

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by Robert Evans on Holiday River Expeditions

The guides were absolutely fantastic. Our trip leader, Ellie was extremely competent, knowledgeable and friendly.The other guides, Emma, Sam and Jack were all excellent as well. The beauty of Desolation Canyon and the sense of wildness cannot be adequately described. The trip provided a perfect balance of activity and rest. The range of things encountered, including wildlife, petroglyphs, an abandoned western ranch, spectacular scenery and exciting white water was wonderful. Plus the extended trip provided a wonderful opportunity to get to know people from as far away as Australia, to as close as Utah. The food was exceptional, and the guides were super nice and very efficient in setting up camp, cooking, cleaning up, and loading out in the mornings. I could not have asked for a better trip.

by Nick Berich on Holiday River Expeditions

Karen was extremely helpful. Fabulous trip!

by Mark and Debbie Dawson on Holiday River Expeditions

We had the best time in Desolation Canyon! The guides were wonderful - very friendly and knowledgeable. The campsites were always nice, well thought out location for the kitchen, bano and camp sites. Riding the rapids in the inflatable kayaks was a blast. We will definitely travel with Holiday again!

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