Vernal, Utah Trips – Before you go

Find all the information and tips to know before you go on your Vernal, Utah river rafting trip!

If you have any questions prior to leaving for your trip, we welcome you to call our Salt Lake City office, 8-5 Monday through Friday at 800-624-6323 (outside Utah) or 801-266-2087 (inside Utah).  We’re happy to take the time to answer your questions. You can also contact us by email at




There are a few great spots to fill you up before & after your expedition. They include: Antica Forma, a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza & pasta place, Don Pedro’s, a traditional Mexican restaurant north of Vernal downtown, with yummy food & great margaritas, and Vernal Brewing Company, a local brewery with a decent menu to boot. Jade Lion offers Chinese cuisine and sushi as well.

Main Salmon River Wildlife Big Horn Sheep

The Pack

The waterproof bags we provide will contain all of your belongings except for your tent, poles, and, if you rented a sleeping kit, your sleep pad. Your larger waterproof bag (16” X 28” high) holds your sleeping bag, pillow, & most of your clothing/toiletries for morning and evening use. If you brought your own sleeping pad it will also fit into this large bag. The smaller “day bag” (10” X 22” high) will hold anything you need access to during the course of the day on the river: Sunscreen, chapstick, a mug, your favorite book, a rain jacket, maybe a pair of hiking shoes, etc. For a tutorial on how to pack your dry bags follow this link! Your tent (rental or owned) will go into a “tent bag” and your tent poles in a mesh “pole bag”. This is to ensure our waterproof bags are soft, easy to pack, and therefore waterproof! Avoid packing a high-profile tent as canyon winds have a habit of blowing these over much easier than lower profile or backpacking tents.

Yampa River Camp Couple Tent

Everything in Moderation

Please follow our packing checklists closely (depending on which applies to your trip) as those items are essential to your comfort and enjoyment of these kinds of excursions. However, as with most things in life, moderation is the key to happiness; please refrain from bringing every last toy in your garage. Similarly, we provide three meals a day and have snacks on hand for those in-between cravings. If you have dietary restrictions or specific snacking needs we encourage you to supplement our meals; however we often do not have room in our coolers to accommodate food items in need of refrigeration. Your additional snacks will need to be stowed inside your personal bags during the day (we will have critter-proof storage available at night). In our 55+ years of operating, we have found that less is more and streamlining your pack allows you to focus on the things you came to enjoy most: the great outdoors!

Vernal BYG Everything in Moderation


In the early and late seasons (May, early June, and September), temperatures in Dinosaur average 55 to 70 degrees during the day and 50 to 60 degrees at night. In late June through August, daytime temperatures are between 80 and 90 degrees with nighttime temperatures 60 to 70 degrees. There is always some possibility of rain, which can cool temperatures considerably. With this in mind, we recommend you have a rain jacket and pants, long underwear, and a change of warm clothing in case things get wet. If you reserved a sleep kit with us when you booked your river trip, we will have the rain gear for you. If the weather calls for it, your guides may pack wetsuits to wear on serious rapid days. There will also be sun, so bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen. Please avoid spray on sunscreen for the health and safety of your guides and fellow guests.

Weather in Vernal, UT

The Critters

…are generally no problem. In fact, the lack of pesky insects is one of the reasons wilderness camping on the river is so pleasant. Any river trip, however, is subject to an occasional localized insect hatch. During these hatches (most common in June to mid-July) mosquitoes can be bothersome. Be sure to bring long-sleeved clothing and a generous supply of repellent. Insect repellents that contain Deet are by far the most effective during heavy hatches. Citronella-based products work only in light hatches. We rarely see any snakes or scorpions, but if the thought of them bothers you, try sleeping on the beach or in a tent instead of rocky or bushy areas.  In August and September we have seen an increase in wasps on the last 2-3 days of our trip. If you have a bee allergy, bring any necessary medications with you just in case!

The Critters Vernal

Take a Hike

Hiking is a highlight of the trip; however, it is always an optional activity and how much hiking you do will depend on time, weather, water levels, and what other plans may be ahead for the day on the river. Please be aware that some of the hikes on trips can be more strenuous due to heat and elevation gain. There are some shorter hikes available. Hiking can be done in durable sneakers, lightweight hiking boots, or hiking sandals.

Hiking for Vernal Trips

Bath Time!

You can bathe directly in the main stem of the river using biodegradable soap (like Dr. Bronners or Campsuds). Humans have a big impact on smaller side streams; therefore, please refrain from bathing in these sensitive areas. Alternatively, disposable antibacterial towelettes like baby wipes are great for cooler weather trips.

Bath Time

The Baño

While in the backcountry, we strive to ‘leave no trace’ and a big part of that means carrying out our solid waste and bringing along a portable toilet we call the “Baño” to create a private and comfortable restroom experience outdoors.  Each day at camp your guides will set up a handwashing station & two portable toilets complete with toilet paper, a bathroom trash and a hand wash station. One toilet is for solid waste including toilet paper, one toilet is for folks who prefer to not pee directly in the river & a trash accepts anything else including menstrual products.  If you’re curious what going to the bathroom will be like on your trip, check out this informative video!

San Juan Bano

Robots in the Wild

Oftentimes the best part about the trip is “unplugging”. The use of electronic devices can often take away from the “wildness” of your trip. Therefore, we ask that you please be mindful of their impact on others and yourself and consider instead truly disconnecting. Many guests travel with their smartphone; if you choose to do so, be sure to use “airplane mode” to save battery life. There is always a risk of water damage to these and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag; do consider purchasing waterproof casing for this reason. We ask that you bring headphones if you intend to listen to music as portable speakers are prohibited by many of our federal land partners.  And remember, we’re in the backcountry and cannot provide a power source.

Robots in the Wild

Gone Fishin’

On the second to last day we typically have the option to spend time at Jones Hole, which is a beautiful trout stream. We often spend about three hours here and may even camp nearby. You will need a Utah fishing license to fish, and this may be purchased at most sporting goods stores, or at Smith’s in Vernal prior to the trip. Please note that these stores will not be open the morning you meet for your trip. Only artificial lures and flies are allowed on this stream. If you would like to obtain more information or secure your license in advance contact: Utah Wildlife Resources.

Gon Fishing out of Vernal, UT


If you plan to bring alcoholic drinks, be aware that you cannot buy alcohol in Utah on Sundays or after 7 p.m. (except for a limited selection of beer at convenience or grocery stores). It is best to purchase all alcohol before arriving in Vernal as the local state run liquor store’s selection can be limited. You are also welcome to bring along any additional non-alcoholic beverages you would like to enjoy. We recommend that you label all of your drinks (marking individual cans is best) so that they’re easier to find once we pack them into our coolers. Holiday provides all drinking water, along with a selection of non-alcoholic sparkling water and soda (one can per person per day).

Beverages Vernal Trips

Smoking & Vaping

Courtesy to fellow trip participants and the arid wilderness we travel through dictates anyone smoking or vaping do so mindfully.  Make sure you are downwind and far away from others and that you ash into water or wet sand.  Smoking and vaping are not allowed on the rafts at any time.  Please keep in mind, the use of cannabis on all federal lands that we visit remains illegal.


Tipping Your Guides

From sunup to sundown your guides strive to make your trip unforgettable. It is customary to tip your guides, especially if you feel they have been instrumental in the success of the trip. A suggested gratuity range is from $20.00 to $30.00 per guest, per day (about 10-15% of trip cost). Please plan to have cash or a check ready when we return to the warehouse at the end of the trip (there are also ATMs in town). Direct all gratuities and make any checks out to the trip leader, who will split the tip evenly among the guides. Venmo may be an option depending on the trip leader, but cash is always preferred.

Guides Tipping

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Our guides are trained in first aid and carry first aid supplies only. Remember to bring your own prescription medicines. Alert our guides to any medical problem you might have such as diabetes or allergic reactions. Wilderness expeditions are a long way from hospitals and doctors. Evacuations to modern medical care are uncertain and protracted. In case of evacuation and/or medical treatment beyond first aid, expenses incurred are the responsibility of the participant.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Cancellation Policy

If cancellations are made prior to 90 days before the trip, monies will be refunded less a $200.00 service charge per person. Cancellations made within 90 days of the trip date are nonrefundable. 90 days prior to the trip date, we will transfer reservations to another trip in the same year with a $25.00 service charge per person. All policies will be enforced and we strongly recommend trip cancellation insurance. Cancellation of a trip is very unlikely, but we reserve the right to cancel any trip due to river or weather conditions or the lack of sufficient reservations. A full refund will be made if such is the case. Final payments MUST be received on time (90 days prior to trip) to continue holding your reservation. Please note, charter trips have a different cancellation policy that can be found on the Charter Trip Page.

Cancellation Policy

Just in Case

Medical Evacuation and cancellation insurance on a vacation plan can be obtained from numerous insurance companies. You are responsible for these potential expenses and we strongly encourage all guests to have this coverage. We recommend plans through TRAVEL GUARD that cover evacuation, baggage, and cancellation claims INCLUDING COVID. Information should be enclosed with this package. It is available to American and Canadian citizens, as well as citizens of another country as long as you have a U.S. address. If you would like a quote or you have questions follow this link. Also, if you are bringing expensive cameras, binoculars, or other items, we suggest you have insurance coverage for them (commonly available through homeowners policies). In the event of a loss, our insurance will not cover those items.

Ely Creek Water Fall

While You’re Here

Learn a little more about the incredible archaeology of the area at the Dinosaur Natural History Museum in Vernal (open 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.,, or see the bones in situ at the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry Visitor Center. Drive out to the Harpers Corner Overlook and stare down into Echo Park, where you’ll soon be floating. Explore further afield at the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, Jones Hole Federal Fish Hatchery, or in the Uinta Mountains. If you brought your bike, check out the McCoy Flats and Red Fleet mountain biking trail networks, just outside of Vernal.  For more information on exploring Vernal, read this detailed blog!

Things to do in Vernal, UT