Veteran outfitter Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) has in its 50-plus years of operating whitewater expeditions racked up more guest user days on two iconic rivers in the West than any other business or individual out there.
Their seasoned guides are keepers of fact and lore about the Colorado and Green rivers where seasonally they secure adventure vacations by raft for thousands of thrill-seeking guests annually. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits…
Colorado River Facts
- Famous for whitewater rapids and world-class landscapes, the Colorado is the 46th longest river in the world running 1,450 miles from a meadow just north of Grand Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park to Baja Mexico’s Gulf of California.
- The upper section of the Colorado River was once “Grand River.” In 1921 Congress renamed the entire length “Colorado River.”
- Along its course the Colorado River drops 10,184 feet.
- Annually the river carries away an estimated 45 million tons of sediment. Think 4 million commercial dump trucks doing this work.
- Two canyons through which the Colorado flows, Cataract Canyon and Grand Canyon, are home to the some of the largest whitewater rapids in North America; with some forceful enough to stand a 37-foot raft on end.
- No other river touches more (five) National Parks and combined (six) National Monuments, Conservation & Recreation Areas and State Parks.
Rafting vacations range from half-day to week-long options on the Colorado River. National Geographic calls a Westwater Canyon trip on the Colorado-Utah border “The West’s Best Short Whitewater Trip. This day program for ages 12 and up is priced at $180 per person on a choice of spirited oar-powered or paddle boats. Guides expertly row through exciting waves and swirling pools dwarfed by stunningly beautiful and unique black, gold and red canyon walls of Westwater Canyon in southern Utah. Available April-October. http://www.westernriver.com/trips/westwater1day/
Another short adventure is on a choice of paddle rafts or inflatable kayaks on the Upper Colorado out of Moab. Ages 5 and up can participate, with prices at $89 per adult and $69 per child. Available March-October. http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/trips/rafting/full.php
A three-hour jet boat option explores the calm water sections down river from Moab. Guests witness remote canyons of exquisite beauty, a petrified forest, fossil beds, spectacular rock cliffs, Indian ruins, arches, petroglyphs, Thelma and Louise Point and Dead Horse Point. Ages 4 and up are welcomed. Prices are $89 adults and $79 youth. Available March-October.
A four-day program offers Class III-V rapids in Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park, south of Moab. Included is a majestic setting called “The Confluence” where the Colorado and Green Rives meet. At trip’s end, a flight over Canyonlands National Park returns guests to Moab. Prices are $1,425 adults; $1065 youth. Available May-August. http://www.westernriver.com/trips/cataract/
Over six or seven days guests can raft 187 miles through Grand Canyon National Park on motorized J-Rig rafts. This canyon ride, spliced with daily hikes through Anasazi territory, showcases dark and narrow passages followed by thundering waterfalls in luminous free fall. Rates vary by season but begin at $2,699. Available April-September. http://www.westernriver.com/trips/grand6day/
Green River Facts
- Seventeen rivers are named “Green” but only one features a Desolation Canyon.
- Utah’s Green River is the birthplace of the modern day rafting vacation.
- Desolation Canyon through which it courses was one of several escape routes for Butch Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang.” This canyon, over 5,000 feet deep, is deeper than the Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Trail.
- The river runs for 730 miles and is the Colorado River’s major tributary.
- In 1869 John Wesley Powell explored the Green River from Wyoming to the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in 53 days.
- While the Green River is Utah’s major waterway, it births from the slopes of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming and while enroute, loops 40 miles through northwestern Colorado.
Green River rafting adventures include four days in Lodore Canyon, a sanctuary for bighorn sheep, deer and birds of prey. Guests explore Dinosaur National Monument along with the whitewater. Rates are from $935. Available May-September.
A five-day adventure in Desolation Canyon begins with a scenic flight from Moab, UT. This rafting trip utilizes two-person inflatable kayaks and guided oar boats to explore 60 fun-filled rapids, outlaw hideouts, dinosaur habitats and Fremont Native American petroglyphs. The rate is from $1,555 adult; $995 minimum age 5. Available May-August.
For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2015-2016 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit: http://www.westernriver.com/.