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Colorado River Rafting

The Colorado River enters Utah north of Moab and runs through Lake Powell, passing through a handful of national parks and state parks on its journey. Take to the Colorado River for the thrills of floating like a cork through some of the wildest rapids in the world. An added benefit is getting far away from civilization and technology. 

Discover some of the favorite floats through southeastern Utah: 

The Moab Daily

Utah's most popular river trip, the Moab Daily, is a 13-mile stretch of the Colorado River from Hittle Bottom to Takeout Beach along Highway 128. This float can be easily done in a day. With breathtaking canyon country scenery and fun class II and III rapids, it's a great trip for first timers and families. While some of the runs' rapids are easily enough to get the adrenaline pumping, all are fairly easy to navigate.

Many guides and outfitters offer trips on the Moab Daily. 

Cataract Canyon

The standard rowing trip runs 127 miles, takes anywhere from one to five days and encounters 29 major rapids. The trip begins south of Moab on the Colorado River and ends on the upper reaches of Lake Powell.

The Colorado and Green rivers have played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Canyonlands National Park, and seeing the park from the bottom up affords a unique perspective. Above their confluence near the heart of Canyonlands, the rivers offer miles and miles of flat water perfect for canoes, sea kayaks and other shallow-water boats. Below the confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a fourteen-mile stretch of Class III to V white water.

Thanks to this confluence of natural forces that produce some of the West's best rapids and its perfect proximity to southeast Utah's national park experiences, Cataract Canyon is an extremely popular destination and must-hit run for fans of white water. In fact, it's an official entry in The Salt Lake Tribune's Utah Bucket List. As a result, guides and/or advance private permits are both required and limited in number.

From a Salt Lake Tribune article:

The ever-changing flows make running the rapids a challenge. Some rapids get washed out during high flows but can be difficult to maneuver at lower-water levels. Guides and private groups stop at many of the 30 rapids to scout out the safest route through Cataract.

Private and commercial-rafting permits to float the 47 miles of the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon are required and available through Canyonlands National Park, but most river runners launch at the Potash ramp about 20 miles southwest of Moab and take in a couple of days of leisurely floating the 48 miles to the confluence with the most action coming from water fights.

Hikes to petroglyphs, pictographs and ancient dwellings are scattered in the first days and help visitors establish a sense of the place in which they are suddenly immersed.

Permits are required to float Cataract Canyon. Private parties can obtain permits by contacting Canyonlands National Park. There are 18 contracted concessionaires that provide outfitted and guided trips through Cataract. Most Cataract Canyon river trips start at the Potash boat ramp about 20 miles southwest of Moab and float 48 miles on the Colorado River before reaching the confluence with the Green. The official start of Cataract Canyon begins shortly after the confluence and runs for 47 miles to the Hite Marina on Lake Powell in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Need tips on what to wear on the river?

What to Wear on a River Rafting Trip

by Melissa McGibbon

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