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Cataract Canyon is home to the biggest whitewater rapids in Utah. Each trip offers a nice combination of quiet floats, incredible hiking, whitewater, and the simple pleasures of camp life. Enjoy the slower pace of the river as you wind through sculpted sandstone buttes and towering red rock cliffs. Incredible hikes include a visit to ancient Native American pictographs, Dollhouse Rock, and a magnificent outlook high above the mighty Colorado River. After passing the majestic confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers, you’ll enter Cataract Canyon, an area with exciting whitewater where you will experience some of the biggest rapids in North America, including the most notorious stretch known as The Big Drops, where your raft plunges 30 feet in a matter of minutes through a series of large rapids. After successfully navigating the rapids, your trip ends near Hite Marina on upper Lake Powell.
A flexible, open attitude is a necessity. You will be immersed in the varying elements of nature. There is no set daily itinerary, electricity, or indoor plumbing. There is plenty of adventure, camaraderie, good food, and beautiful Canyonlands scenery.
Cataract Canyon has many faces during the season. Spring is the high-water season (April – June), when experienced whitewater enthusiasts and adventure seekers can experience huge waves and rapids that rival those in the Grand Canyon. At its peak flows, this is some of the biggest navigable whitewater flows in North America. Later in the season, from July through October, as the water levels drop, this becomes a more moderate run with less intimidating rapids, suitable for all ages and levels of experience. These summer months still offer a thrilling ride, but at a more leisurely pace.
We’ve been connecting our clients to water adventures around the world since 1987. We partner with select outfitters who share our values and are pros at creating exceptional experiences. There is no fee for our service; we earn our commission from the outfitters we represent, and the cost of your expedition is the same as booking direct.
Depending on outfitter and trip selected, Cataract Canyon rafting trips initially meet in either: Moab or Green River, Utah. Transportation to the put-in spot is provided by the outfitter.
All trips end near Hite Marina, Utah on upper Lake Powell. Transportation from the take-out point back to Moab or Green River, Utah is provided by the outfitter.
Most outfitters will provide all the camping and river related safety equipment, along with plenty of fresh food, non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. However there are some outfitters that will ask you to supply your own camping and sleep gear. Typically these outfitters will also have an option to rent a camp/sleep kit for an additional cost. You will simply need to bring your own personal effects. Transportation to the put-in point and take-out point from/to your start city is included.
April and May have cooler temperatures (average high 84°F, low 50°F), which require extra layers, but allow for longer hikes. June through August are the hottest months to raft Utah with temperatures ranging 95-101°F. As the rafting season winds down in September and October you can expect cooler weather, with highs averaging 89°F and lows around 53°F.
With a character similar to that in the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River within Cataract Canyon alternates between short sections of rapids and long calm stretches. Rapids range from easy (Class I) to a couple of large rapids (Class V). Unlike the Grand Canyon, this section of the Colorado River is not regulated, which means that the nature of the rapids can change depending on the time of the year that you choose to raft. The water is cold (48°F), and can be emerald green or chocolate brown depending on the season and section of the river.
For safety reasons, during high water conditions most outfitters will run the larger motorized rafts. As the water drops in July and August oar-powered trips become available with the option for paddleboats and inflatable kayaks. Your boat will depend on the outfitter and the type of trip you select, but the most common is the motor raft. It could be a 35-foot inflatable pontoon rafts, which carry 15 people, to 22-foot snout rigs, which carry six to eight passengers or a RIB boat, which offer the shortest trips on the river. The rafts are powered by four-cycle motors, which enable them to traverse the canyon in a shorter amount of time. The environmentally friendly motors are designed for low-emissions and developed with a quiet technology, offering a more natural experience through the canyons (one can even sit next to the motor and have a conversation using a normal tone of voice). If conditions are favorable than an oar raft may be used, which can carry up to 4 people and a guide who maneuvers the boat with a pair of oars. The final option is a paddleboat, an 18 feet long inflatable rubber raft that can carry six to eight people with each person responsible for paddling as a guide calls out the paddling commands. Paddleboats are a team effort boat and offer riders an intimate encounter with the river.
Motor trips will have 1 to 2 boats, each carrying up to 18 participants with no more than 36 in the group. Oar trips will have 5 to 7 boats, each carrying up to 4 participants with no more than 22 in the group.
Whether you’re an experienced camper or it’s your first time under the stars, our outfitters are specialists in facilitating an enjoyable and relaxing camping experience. Most outfitters provide a full sleep kit with a tent, sleeping bag, and inflated sleeping pad. Some outfitters will request that you bring your own sleep kit and camp equipment, or will have a package that you can rent for an additional cost. Everyone participates in setting up and breaking down camp. A clean, private camp toilet is set up first thing upon arrival at camp and it is the last thing to be dismantled the next morning.
One thing is certain on a Cataract Canyon rafting trip: There will be plenty of food! A full, hearty breakfast with cowboy coffee gets the day going. A riverside picnic sets the scene for lunch where you create your own sandwich. Dinners can be anything from a New York steak, grilled filet of salmon, or a Mexican feast followed by a hot, Dutch oven dessert. There are plenty of snacks and beverages offered throughout the day. Alcoholic beverages are not included, but you are welcome to bring your own. With advance notice, all outfitters are able to accommodate for special dietary requirements.
Length: 2 – 8 days
Price: $564 – $3,350 per person (Other taxes & fees may apply)
Season: April – October
Min. Age: 8 years during Low Water Levels;16 years during High Water Levels
Activity: Whitewater Rafting
Adventure Level: Strong
I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the Rivers & Oceans’ staff, their organizational skills, knowledge and simply being just nice people. Once I decided to go with them every detail of the adventure was planned, organized and implemented without a hitch.
Absolutely wonderful. Rivers and Oceans is operated by people who truly care about your trip and have the personal experience to help you make the best choice. Now go see for yourself and let Rivers and Oceans lead you towards the adventure of a lifetime.
The folks at Rivers and Oceans are great. Helped us find and book a trip and patiently answered many questions over the weeks preceding the trip. Thank you.
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