Large cataract canyon   rafting 1

Rafting the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon

Spend five days rafting the Colorado River and hiking through the gorgeous scenery of the Canyonlands National Park in Utah. You’ll master whitewater rapids, hike through a layer-cake landscape of rusty reds, ochres and sands, and sleep beneath the stars. And because you’ll be in the hands of expert guides who double-up as great cooks you’re left to kick back and enjoy the ride.

Small Group Adventure 5 days

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The Canyonlands National Park. Mission Impossible II, Thelma and Louise, and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid were filmed here – and it’s hardly surprising seeing as this part of the USA is home to some seriously striking scenery. Red rock canyons are carved deep into the landscape, rock spires twist upwards like stalagmites, and natural arches provide perfect frames for blue skies and a seemingly never-ending desert landscape. Then there’s the native American rock art that was scratched and etched into rock surfaces 600 years ago. All in all it makes for a hugely compelling experience and the perfect place to spend quality time outdoors.

There’s no denying the real draw about this place is its epic scenery – there’s something rather Jurassic Park about it all. And it doesn’t take much to imagine it as a world where T-Rexes and pterodactyls still roam. But aside from the awe-inspiring views, it’s got to be the Colorado River rafting itself that provides the real wow factor. And more specifically, the whitewater rapids that you’ll come across on days three and four. But this isn’t a log flume at Alton Towers. These rapids are an altogether different kettle of fish – between May – June this part of the river has some of the country’s most challenging rapids, so prepare for a thrill!

The boats used for this adventure are oar-boats, traditionally used for rafting the river. They are small, 18ft rafts, carrying four to five people, making sure that you are right in the thick of the white water action!

If you like the sound of this, but would prefer a shorter trip, please get in touch with us; we have 1, 2, 3 & 4 day trips available.


Day 1: Colorado River
Your first day starts early with a 7.30am meet at the tour office. You’ll then be taken to your boat on the Colorado River. After a safety briefing, you’ll start your journey through the Canyonlands National Park. Lunch will be served outdoors. Afterwards, you’ll board the boat and head down stream past Tex’s Grotto and Dead Horse Point – where Mission Impossible II and Thelma and Louise were filmed. There’ll be hiking opportunities at Little Bridges and Petrified Wood. Later on, your guides will set up camp and prepare dinner for you. You’ll have the chance to have a wander through the canyons or enjoy a bit of swimming.

Day 2: Canyon touring
After breakfast you and your guides will strike camp before setting off on the river again. In the morning you’ll pass Lockhart Canyon – where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hid their stolen cattle. You’ll also see Indian Ruins at Lathrup Canyon. After lunch you’ll see Airport Tower, Coffee Pot Ruin and the Racing Stripe – a bright white strip of Gypsum suspended amidst the deep red sandstone of the canyon. There’ll be hiking opportunities at Lathrup Canyon and India Creek Canyon. In the evening there’s the chance to explore sandy beaches before enjoying dinner as the sun sets.

Day 3: Loop Hike
After breakfast you’ll board your boat and head down river. In the morning there’s the possibility of participating in the Loop Hike – a route that takes you round the top of the ridge on a four-mile bend back on to itself. From here, you’ll be able to see both sides of the ridge from nearly 1000 feet above the river. In the afternoon you’ll reach the Confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. If it’s rained recently, the mixing of the rivers will be defined in brilliant swirls of red and green. After the Confluence, you’ll experience the first of the Cataract Canyon rapids - numbers one to ten. By now the river has doubled in size and force, and while the rapids aren’t huge, they’re big enough to get everyone good and wet before disembarking for the night. Hiking opportunities are possible either at the Loop Hike or at The Dolls House. In the evening, you can swim, hike or just relax as the crew set up camp and cook dinner.

Day 4: Whitewater rapids
Today’s a day of whitewater. After breakfast, you’ll board the boats and start out on some of the biggest whitewater in the Western United States. (Later season trips have smaller rapids). By lunch, everyone will be soaking wet after having tackled whitewater rapids called ‘Big Drop Two’, ‘North Seas’ and ‘Capsize’. But that’s just the beginning. After lunch, you’ll be back on the boats and heading into even bigger whitewater. You’ll navigate through intimidating rapids like ‘Big Drop Three’, ‘Satan’s Gut’ and ‘Little Niagara’. In the evening it’s time to relax. Your guides will set up camp and prepare your evening meal. Traditionally, this night is ‘Dress Up Night’ – but anything goes. Formal wear or floppy hats – you decide. Likewise, if you don’t fancy it, it’s fine to sit this one out and spend time on your own.

Day 5: Colorado River
Your final day of rafting begins with a tasty breakfast and hot drinks so you’re ready to go for the day ahead. You’ll head through the final rapids, and there may be time to hike some of the canyons like Clearwater Canyon and Dark Canyon. After lunch, you’ll climb back onboard and follow the Colorado River as it pushes its way into the calm waters of Lake Powell. Here you’ll be in the deepest part of the canyon, surrounded by nearly 2,000 foot cliffs. You’ll see the Dirty Devil River and Piano Leg Arch. Later on, you’ll be escorted to the landing strip for your return flight to Moab. As you take this scenic flight, watch for the Henry Mountains, the White Rim, the Abajo Mountains, the La Sal Mountains and nearly the entire Colorado Plateau. You’ll be met at the Moab airport and transferred back to Moab where your journey ends.


Getting there

Fly to Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) or Denver International Airport (DEN). Major airlines that fly to Salt Lake City include Air France, Continental, KLM and BMI. Major airlines that fly to Denver include BMI, British Airways and US Airways. Most require two stopovers, one in Europe, one in America.

From Salt Lake City and Denver you must travel on to Moab, 236 miles away. Great Lakes Aviation flies direct to Moab Canyonlands Field Airport. Or you can fly from Salt Lake City to Grand Junction (GJT) and from here you can hire a car or take a shuttle to drive the remaining 2 hours to Moab. Alternatively you can hire a car or take a shuttle from Salt Lake City or Denver airports.

The trip begins at Canyonlands Field Airport, which is in Moab.

Price includes

Price includes all rafting and safety equipment including lifejackets and dry bags, tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads, professionally trained and licensed guides, portable toilet and necessities, all meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day, shuttle to launch site, iced water, Gatorade and lemonade on boat, soda, coffee, tea and hot chocolate in camp. Price includes scenic return flight over the canyon at the end of the trip.

When is best?

This rafting trip has regular departures from May - October

Is it for me?

You don't have to be an experienced whitewater rafter to enjoy the thrill of the exciting rapids in Cataract Canyon. You do need a sense of adventure though, as you will get wet a lot, you might fall in and you’ll be tackling some furious whitewater rapids.

Children aged 10 and above are welcome. Maximum group sizes are 25, although the average is between 10 and 15. The maximum number of people to an oarboat is 5. This trip is a great bonding experience for families and friends as you’ll be spending 5 solid days together.


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A 2 week road trip in Utah, Arizona & Nevada taking in 6 National Parks including the Grand Canyon. A road trip with wow factor.

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