Guide to Whitewater Rafting Trips in Utah

Jan 22, 2019
By: Robert Stephenson

It’s not a mirage! Let Holiday River Expeditions guide you through the solitude and excitement of any Utah whitewater rafting trip.

What kid doesn’t love to create the ultimate tidal wave in the bathtub while dad’s back is turned? You know who you are. Well, splash away! Feed that inner kid in all of us by indulging that tidal wave feeling while Mother Nature provides the soapsuds...and the kicker is, she doesn’t make you mop up afterwards. Utah’s rivers boast numerous opportunities to enjoy the exhilaration of whitewater rafting. Below are some epic watery wonderland baths Mother Nature has been drawing for ages, even if the water is a degree or two cooler than the tub back at home:

Westwater Canyon (1-3 days; ages 8+)

Often referred to as a miniature Grand Canyon, Westwater Canyon offers the perfect weekend getaway. Class III & IV rapids are sure to induce smiles and gleeful screams as you enjoy the stunning scenery of this section of the Colorado. With back-to-back rapids the likes of Bowling Alley, Sock-it-to-me, and Last Chance, this will be a far cry better than your last gutter ball fest with the kids at the local lanes.

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Cataract Canyon (3, 5-6 days; ages 8+)

Deep in the heart of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park lies The Big Drop Rapids! Where else ya gonna find Little Niagara and Satan’s Gut? Nowhere. No seriously, nowhere on its entire course does the Colorado River descend more precipitously than through Cataract Canyon. There’s literally nowhere quite like it.

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Desolation Canyon (5-6 days; ages 5+)

Family fun for all ages is found in Desolation Canyon. Bring your family to this long time refuge of the Fremont Indians and later the hideout for some of the west’s most notorious outlaws. Caves and petroglyphs are scattered along this cultural wonderland. Plus, a quick tour of the abandoned Rock Creek Ranch, where Butch Cassidy’s wild bunch caught some shut eye, might give your gang some street cred stories to tell their wild bunch when they get back to the school yard.

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San Juan River (3-5 days; ages 5+)

Drop the cell phone (just not in the water). Get off the beaten path. I mean, any day floating through a place called Mexican Hat, should be considered a good day in anyone’s book. Staring up at the gorgeous cliffs as you float through Goosenecks State Park will leave you breathless. And, conquering the 1,200 foot vertical hike to the 1894 gold prospector’s cabin will reward you with a view of Monument Valley that is out of this world!

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Yampa River (4-5 days; ages 8+)

A fossilized tiger 2,000 feet tall? Pretty close, actually. Float through dinosaur country down the last undammed river in the Colorado River system. The Yampa River supplies a wealth of attractions along its shores. From Fremont Indian rock art to Whispering Cave, not to mention a blue-ribbon trout stream with side canyon petroglyphs and a waterfall to boot. Yampa is your river route through the soul of The Land Before Time (queue ‘If we hold on--to the raft--together’)

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Lodore Canyon (4 days; ages 8+)

John Wesley Powell who first discovered this canyon in 1869 spared no expense when he named the rapids. Disaster Falls, Triplet Falls, and Hell’s Half Mile may cause you to wonder whether you are passing through the scenic Gates of Lodore, or staring into Tolkien’s Gate of Mordor. Rest at ease. Far less ominous than Mordor, Lodore Canyon is a perfect blend of exhilarating class III & IV whitewater rapids mixed with peaceful bighorn sheep and pronghorn sanctuary.

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At this point, you’re ready to book your rafting adventure...with just one question: What if we are the surf ‘n turf type crew? Fear not, my friends. Holiday River Expeditions has still got you covered. Combine some whitewater rafting with these other Holiday River adventures which include, dark sky stargazing, whitewater kayaking workshops, balance and flow yoga wellness trips, mountain biking trips, and more. From raging rapid to open range, Holiday River Expeditions has a tailored adventure waiting just for you.

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