5 Family Friendly Utah River Rafting Trips

Mar 5, 2018
By: Chad Taylor

From stillwater to serious soapsuds, here are five trips we recommend courtesy of our friends at Holiday River Expeditions.

Holiday River Expeditions has led rafting trips in Utah for more than 50 years, back before selfies weren’t cool. Guides like Sherpa San, Frogg Stewart and Tom Beckett have provided (mostly) true stories and expert river knowledge to their guests since the disco days of the 70s. Want to pull your family away from their excessive screen time and replace it with serene time? Here are five options:

Lodore Canyon (4 days; Ages 8 and up)

Lodore Canyon

Explore Utah’s Dinosaurland (Vernal area) via the Green River’s Lodore Canyon. 800-foot canyon walls serve as a dreamland for geology enthusiasts and tenderfoots alike. Class II-IV rapids like Hell’s Half Mile will scare the kids just enough that they’ll be bragging about the conquest to their friends for months.

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Desolation Canyon (5-6 days; Ages 5 and up)

Desolation Canyon

Even the little tikes can go on this trip (now you don’t have to find a babysitter!) This is both a thrilling and educational adventure as you’ll be transported through some of the most remote parts of the continental United States –– the Tavaputs Plateau (thus the name Desolation Canyon). You’ll see the former home of the Fremont Native American tribe, as well as the hideout for some of this country’s notorious outlaws. Add in some super cool wildlife and whitewater that gets more intense each day and you have the perfect family rafting trip (well, no trip is perfect, but this is close.)

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San Juan River (3-5 days; Ages 5 and up)

San Juan River

This is one of the fastest moving rivers in the United States, but don’t worry, you’re kids will be fine (on this trip, that is). Famous for its gooseneck canyons, the river guides you through several ancestral sites and petroglyphs. With class I-II rapids, it’s not the most intense of trips, but it’s super fun.

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Westwater Canyon (2-3 days; Ages 8 and up)

Westwater Canyon

One of the most popular rafting trips on the Colorado River. The section this trip flows through is known as a miniature Grand Canyon. You’ll catch your kids staring at the gorgeous scenery, but their attention will be pleasantly diverted to class III & IV rapids, like Skull (sounds pretty legit, right?) This is a shorter trip if you’re short on time, but it’s packed with potentially expletive-inducing thrills.

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Cataract Canyon (5-6 days; Ages 8 and up)

Cataract Canyon

The crown jewel of Utah river rafting trips. This trip puts in at the heart of Canyonlands National Park and is named for its “cataract” rapids. If you aren’t into side canyon grottos, waterfalls, and ancient Pueblo ruins, you shouldn’t choose this trip. On the other hand, if you want to become the source of some serious social media FOMO hold tight to your smartphone, forget the filters and get ready for some serious binge posting. Make sure to give the rapids proper respect with appropriate hashtags: #milelong, #benhurt, and #bigdrops.

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Learn more about Holiday River Expeditions and plan your trip

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