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 delivered expert river knowledge and (mostly) true stories to their guests since the disco days of the '70s.

Want to replace your kids' screen time with serene time? Here are five trips that'll have them throwing their phones in the river:

Lodore Canyon (4 days; Ages 8+)

Lodore Canyon

Explore Utah’s Dinosaurland (Vernal area) via the Green River’s Lodore Canyon. The 800-foot canyon walls are a dreamland for geology enthusiasts and regular old red rock gawkers 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+)

Desolation Canyon

Even the little tykes can go on this trip (Now you don’t have to find a babysitter!) This is one of those rare adventures that is both thrilling and educational as you’re transported through the Tavaputs Plateau, one of the remotest parts of the continental United States – (hence the name Desolation Canyon). You’ll see the former home of the Fremont Native American civilization, as well as the hideout of some of the country’s most 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+)

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. It's not the most intense of trips, with Class I-II rapids but it’s beautiful and super fun.

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Westwater Canyon (2–3 days; ages 8+)

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 when their attention isn't trained on Class III & IV rapids, like the one named Skull, for instance (sounds pretty legit, right?). This is a shorter trip but it’s packed with potentially expletive-inducing thrills.

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Cataract Canyon (5–6 days; ages 8+)

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 (the waterfall meaning, not the eye ailment). If you aren’t into side canyon grottos, waterfalls, ancient Pueblo ruins, and Class III-IV rapids, 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 once you get back to civilization. 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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