Green River/Desolation Canyon Rafting Trips
Don’t be put off by the name! This canyon is chock-full of not just abundant whitewater, but also fascinating history, scenic hikes, dazzling canyon views, beautiful wilderness camping, and incredible dutch oven meals. The terraced yellow rock walls seem to grow more immense as you plunge deep into the canyon. The rapids follow suit, growing in intensity to culminate in a rip-roaring ride. Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs while hiking along lush river bottoms and secluded side canyons.
It’s no wonder that Desolation Canyon is a designated National Historic Landmark; the river’s shores have seen a rich human history. Ancient Fremont Indians farmed along the lush river bottoms, pecking images into the rock and tucking food away in hidden granaries. Later Ute tribes frequented the canyon as well, and still own much of the surrounding land. The 1890’s saw outlaws like Butch Cassidy and his "Wild Bunch” traveling from ranch to ranch along the river, occasionally working as ranch hands or trading their tired horses for fresh ones to make their escape just one more time. Ranch families scraped out a living raising cattle and horses in the rugged terrain, and miners sought their fortune among the tumbled rocks. The rapids’ names hint at the canyon’s colorful history: Little Wild Horse, Wire Fence, Moonwater, Steer Ridge, Three Fords, Range Creek, Firewater, Trail Canyon, Saleratus, Coal Creek, Cow Swim, Poverty, and Rattlesnake among them.
John Wesley Powell’s expeditions in the late 1860s led the way for modern rafters to visit the canyon. Today, you’ll find no permanent human settlements, but many animals call the area home. If you’re very lucky, you may see hardy horses and cattle running half-wild through the flats, or catch a glimpse of an elusive black bear or desert bighorn sheep coming down for a drink. You’ll sleep under some of the darkest skies in America, and enjoy gourmet dutch-oven cooking prepared by our talented guides. Every bend of the river will bring something new, and you’ll return home filled to the brim with fond memories from your time in Desolation Canyon.
We offer two different trips through Desolation Canyon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Desolation Canyon rapids range from Class II to Class III depending on water levels. They provide first-timers with a lively introduction to the adventures of river running, but will also satisfy seasoned boaters looking for novelty and excitement.
Oar-powered 18’ row rafts invite you to sit back and enjoy the ride while your competent guide maneuvers through the rapids and powers through flat water. A small outboard motor may be used to cover distances more efficiently when the water levels are low. For those interested in a hands-on rafting adventure, we offer two-person inflatable kayaks when water conditions are favorable. Splashy waves seem much bigger from the seat of an inflatable kayak!
Utah’s Canyon Country is known for its fantastic weather. In the spring and fall, daytime temperatures range from 50-80 degrees F, dropping to 30-50 degrees at night. Expect summer temperatures between 65 and 95 degrees during the day and 55-75 degrees at night. Thunderstorms can build quickly in this area, so it’s always a good idea to prepare with rain gear. We recommend that you check the local weather before departing to see what is forecast during your trip. Always be prepared for the sun; wear sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin.
We encourage you to bring a camera to record your river adventure. Before your trip, stash it in two zip-lock bags and then put it in a small dry bag borrowed from our office. We can’t guarantee it will be water-tight in every situation, but this has proved a good option for easy access and storage.
Water and lemonade are provided on the boats and at camp; however, a water bottle is nice to have during the day. Coffee, tea or hot chocolate may be available in camp upon request. You may also choose to bring up to two six-pack cans of soda or other beverages to store in the on-board ice chest. Drinks will be placed in a drink cooler as space becomes available. Any wine or liquor will need to be packed in your dry bag. PLEASE DO NOT BRING GLASS.NOTE: Alcohol consumed in excess can compromise a person’s judgment, putting his or her own safety at risk and disturbing the wilderness experience of others. If you view excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages as an essential element in rafting or camping, we suggest that you charter a private trip.
Meals begin with lunch the first day and end with lunch the last day. You’ll be more than surprised and delighted with the tasty entrees and sumptuous desserts our guides are able to whip up seemingly from out of nowhere. We use a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, and breads to provide a varied and well-rounded menu. If you have allergies or other special dietary needs, please let us know AT THE TIME OF RESERVATION. We will do our best to accommodate you.
Restrooms are available at our office and all major boat launch sites. A portable toilet will be set up in camp for your comfort and convenience. For privacy, it will be secluded behind a large rock or clump of trees or set up inside a “John” tent. The toilet will be available each evening and morning and for emergencies during the day. Our guides (both male and female) are sensitive to the unique challenges women may encounter while traveling in a wilderness area. Please don’t hesitate to ask if there are questions concerning these issues. Many women find it helpful to wear a two-piece swimsuit and/or have a skirt or wrap-around sarong for privacy and convenience. Ziploc bags are handy for storage and disposal of feminine hygiene products.