Utah Whitewater Rafting Trips
Utah boasts 400 miles of raftable rivers ranging from the Green and Colorado to their lesser-known tributaries such as the Yampa, the San Rafael and the San Juan. Spectacular red-rock canyons, exotic wildlife, some of the most exciting white water in the West, easy rapids, calm floating - Utah has it all. You can sign up with the Utah outfitter of your choice for Grand Canyon rafting expeditions, which typically start at Lee's Feny, just south of the Utah-Arizona state line. If you want still more, you can go on package tours that combine horseback or mountain-bike riding with river running. Or you can take special educational trips on which expert guides discuss history, folklore, geology, or natural history.
If Utah cannot match the majesty of Arizona's unique Grand Canyon, it comes close. Utah's Green River gorge is as deep as the Grand Canyon and the Utah whitewater rafting rapids in the Colorado's Cataract Canyon rival any in the Grand Canyon for power and difficulty.
Whitewater Rafting in Utah on the Green River
From Sand Wash on the Green River, Utah whitewater rafters can take a four- or five-day trip over some 60 rapids - exciting but not technically difficult - alternating with swift, calm water. They pass through Desolation Canyon, a craggy chasm with sculpted cliffs and towering peaks on either side. It was Major John Wesley Powell who gave Desolation Canyon its name during his epic 1869 descent of the Green and Colorado Rivers. But although its colorful rock strata remain unchanged, it is not so desolate or deserted today. This Utah whitewater rafters' favorite offers views of pine-covered desert mesas and cool, refreshing pools and side streams.
Elsewhere on the Green River floaters may enjoy Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons, great places for Utah whitewater rafting, and the one-day run through Gray Canyon near Interstate 70. Fishermen take special delight in the stretch of the Green River just below Flaming Gorge Dam in the far northeast corner of the state. It is said to boast some of the best fishing water in the world, with the largest trout population of any river in the lower 48 states.
Whitewater Rafting in Utah on the Colorado River in Utah
Upstream on the Colorado is Westwater Canyon, with its narrow Black Granite Gorge and its feisty rapids: Funnel Falls, The Steps, Last Chance, and Skull Rapid. On the upper canyon's calmer stretches, rafters may float in silent contemplation of a wilderness in which beavers, muskrats, raccoons, and great blue herons make their home, along with occasional golden eagles.
In Cataract Canyon, within Canyonlands National Park, Utah whitewater rafters on the Colorado encounter 26 rapids bearing such names as Brown Betty, Mile Long, and the Button, followed by the Big Drops. This Utah white water rafting is described as "truly awesome" in the spring runoff season from late May through most of June. The scenery is fantastic, with the gorge deepening to 2,000 feet and its colorful walls crowned with buttes.
Outfitters run guided raft trips of one to seven days on the Colorado and Green Rivers, passing through the stunning red-rock canyons of Canyonlands National Park. The trips vary greatly in difficulty, depending on the river, time of year. On all trips, beginners and experts alike can enjoy the spectacular rock formations and abundant Indian ruins, pictographs, and petroglyphs. Guests also can view wildlife, including bighorn sheep, deer, otters, beavers, and cougars.The season is from March to November.
Most Utah whitewater rafting trips are of Class III difficulty and are appropriate for novices and families, as well as those with more experience. Other trips of up to Class V+ difficulty challenge even the most advanced paddler. Depending on the location, the trips also feature wild-flowers, side streams, swimming holes, Indian ruins, warm water, abundant wildlife, good hiking and fishing, and hot springs.
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