Four Days, Class III
Tuesdays, April through October
4-Day Value Departures: April 17; May 29; June 19, 26; July 10, 23; August 21; September 18
$1476 adult / $1378 youth
Special Value Departures! $1295 adult / $1095 youth
Six Days, Class III
Sundays, April through October
$1574 adult / $1475 youth
Colorado River defines much of America's desert southwest. It is born
of snow pack high in the Rocky Mountains, and cuts its courses south
and then west into the state of Utah, becoming both a creator and
characteristic of the impressive Colorado Plateau scenery. This region
is known for its impressive collection of national parks, including
Bryse, Arches, Zion, and Canyonlands – all of which boast
huge, rugged terrain of deep red and tan rock cliffs, naturally
sculpted canyons and spires. The area brims with Old West and Native
American history, all in addition to the scores of adventure
opportunities: horseback riding or hiking, rafting the Colorado,
mountain biking across Moab's infamous Slick Rock; 4x4 touring in
Utah's isolated backcountry, and much more.
No matter what sort of adventure you’re
looking for, Canyonlands National Park has a bit of everything: big
– beach camping, exhilarating whitewater; phenomenal
side-canyon hikes to explore the history and geology of Cataract
Canyon; and the astounding back road views of the Needles region.
Prehistoric Puebloan ruins, pictographs and petroglyphs are also common
along the shores of the river - inspiring visions of a much wilder
North America. The many fossilized remains found in former seabeds also
speaks to the areas richness of ancient history. Numerous species of
wild animals are drawn to the major water source in the area, making it
an ideal place for wildlife viewing. Finding shelter in cottonwoods and
willows, riverside tamarisks, bighorn sheep, great blue heron and deer
can be seen, as well as beaver, fox, ring-tailed cat and bobcat.
Cataract Canyon rapids are rated Class III during the months of April,
September and October, Class III+ in August, Class III+ to IV in July,
and IV to V with peak water usually occurring during the last week of
May and the first week of June when there is maximum snow melt.
Why Cataract Canyon?
Not quite as famous as the Grand Canyon, and just a few hundred miles
upstream, Cataract Canyon is, indeed, a foremost southwest destination,
without the crowds. Come experience with us the finest points of
Canyonlands National Park with O.A.R.S. and you'll soon understand why
we are so excited to offer this trip.
• There is no dam on the Colorado River above
Cataract Canyon, and its seasonally varying water levels promise a
whitewater experience for everyone. During May and Junes high-water
season, seasoned whitewater enthusiasts will delight in the massive
waves and the celebrated “Big Drops,” which can
make even the Lava and Crystal Rapids of the Grand Canyon seem tame.
This is often considered the greatest navigable whitewater in the U.S.
Later on in the season, from July through to October, the water levels
drop and the river becomes an outstanding waterway with slightly less
intimidating rapids suitable for all levels of experience and ages.
• Cataract Canyon is known as a geologic wonder, a
true to life classroom where we can see millions of years of natural
history up-close. The extraordinary coloration in the Canyonlands
region— whites, reds, grays and multiple shade in
between— are real indicators of how these rocks were formed.
Bent or broken, sometimes rippling like waves on the ocean, the many
colored striations of the rock layers bear testament to the powerful
forces at work deep below the earths surface.
• Once the spring high water run-off subsides,
Cataract Canyon mellows into an endless natural playground for groups
with children as young as 8 years old. Several family-focused trips are
offered throughout the season, which boasts activities designed
specially for younger children and a “Fun Director”
to both educate and entertain. Whether it's rafting, hiking, or
relaxing at the campsite, you’ll find no better opportunity
to share quality time and favorite activities as a family.
We pride ourselves in running both a flexible or relaxed schedule.
Every trip varies depending on the group, the weather and other trips
on the water. Read on and see what a sample of your trip may include.
The Day Before Your Trip…
We'll meet at 7:00 pm in the conference room of the Gonzo Inn for a
pre-trip meeting. This allows our guests to meet one another and our
guides and ask any last-minute questions. Your guides will give you a
thorough trip orientation, and provide you with any extra gear you may
• The first day will see us
move south of Moab to our Colorado River launch at Potash. The scenic
40-minute drive follows the route of river into Meander Canyon where
the canyon walls rise regally into the air, and serve as a backdrop for
countless petroglyphs. Upon our arrival at Potash we will receive a
thorough safety talk from our guides as well as an orientation to our
boats and gear. As we push off from shore, we are leaving the familiar
behind as we begin our adventure through Canyonlands National Park.
• You will become oriented to a
land nothing like your urban environment as you move along the first 50
miles of your river trip, taking in the rivers rugged and peaceful
beauty. Out gusts are continually astounded by the beautiful deep red
colours of the sandstone looming above you, by the bright willows found
at the rivers edge, and by the desert blue skies. The inviting cool of
the Colorado will calm, relax and invigorate you. At a pace so
agreeably different from our daily lives, geologic panoramas will
slowly change and develop and change before you.
Days 2 – 6
• Depending on what time of the
year we enter Cataract Canyon, the pace of our trip may vary. From Moab
to Hite Marina, the same 100 river miles await, whether your goal is to
experience the thrilling spring run-off , or the more subdued September
waters. Canyonlands is best explored by foot, allowing you to explore
spectacular side canyons, prehistoric natural features, impressive
vistas and seasonal waterfalls.
• In addition to the time spent
rafting, our tours provide ample opportunities to participate in a
variety of additional activities. Spend a morning kayaking, or perhaps
lounge in the shade with a fresh pita in one hand, and a book in the
other. Others may spend the afternoon hiking to ancient Indian
• Perhaps you’d
prefer to take a walk to Lathrop Ruin and explore ancient pictographs
of what archaeologists believe is a solstice calendar, and the painted
outlines of timeless Anasazi hands. Another day provides the
opportunity to investigate Indian Creek Canyon where more fascinating
Anasazi ruins and a spectacular seasonal waterfall await you. Rest
assured that whichever hikes your group takes, the views will inspire
and excite you. The first invigorating days on the river will carry us
past Dead Horse Point and the great Goose Neck.(Dead Horse Point was
immortalized in Ridley Scott's Thelma and Louise).
• After the powerful Colorado
winds us downstream through The Loop we soon reach The Confluence. This
is where the waters of the Green River flow to meet us and Cataract
Canyon begins, giving us a taste of the whitewater to come. As as it
leaves Stillwater Canyon, the Green River merges with us and shortly
ends its 300+-mile journey that brought it from Wyoming. It’s
a slow process for the clear waters of the Green to give in to the
• About three miles past the
Confluence is Spanish Bottom, the threshold of the rivers first major
rapid. This also where we find an all but faded 1893 inscription from
the Major Powell, a steamer that turned around twice, daring not to
attempt the rapids in their sights below. We are now in the Maze
District, and rock formations nearby are begging to be explored. We may
take a hike 1,500 feet up to the Doll House, with a vista that boasts
astounding views in every direction. Moving amidst the huge boulders
and worn rock wonders places our guests in a vastly different scale of
surroundings. A look back to the Needles region across the Colorado, or
a climb to the Beehive Arch introduces us to two more intriguing
examples of geology in action.
• During the spring runoff at
Cataract Canyon some of the largest whitewater on the continent is ors
to explore. Summer and Fall trips are quite a bit less harrowing, but
with rapids the likes of Capsize, Mile Long, and the renowned Big
Drops, this section of the river still has an abundance of excitement
to offer. The next morning begins with a drop into Brown Betty Rapids,
and the anticipation of Cataract explodes with cool water and intense
smiles. Whatever type of boat you’re in or the
day’s water level, the frequent rushes of adrenaline brought
by every new rapid are tempered with your guides' experience and focus
on safety. Perhaps now is the time for your guide to tell tales of the
likes John Wesley Powell's historic 1869 first descent through these
• The last day sees our arrival
at the end of Cataract Canyon just near Lake Powell. As we travel
toward Hite Marina, it is hard to keep from wondering about the wonders
drowned below us in Glen Canyon. Thankfully, the scenic trip to Moab
grants time to reflect, as we follow our path back through Cataract
Canyon from high above, looking down on the landscape through a
What's Included with the Cataract
• All meals from dinner Day 1 through lunch on Day
5, excluding alcoholic beverages
• Activities Day 1 through Day 6
• All transportation from Day 1 through Day 6,
including flight back to Moab from Hite Marina
• Excellent and knowledgeable professional guides
• Personal items, which will be listed in a complete
• Transportation to and from Moab
• Pre- and post - meals and accommodations
Why Visit Utah?
Utah is where travelers will find some of the most diverse culture,
history and scenery located anywhere in the country. There are numerous
state parks and a dozen national parks. Here are some highlights we
suggest that you check out:
• More than 150 years ago,
Brigham Young and his followers set off west in their search for
religious freedom, they soon found themselves to the Great Salt Lake.
Determination and hard work turned the desert they found into the now
productive heartland for the Church of Latter Day Saints. Today Salt
Lake City stands along the eastern shores of the largest inland salt
water body in the country and is commonly referred to as the
“crossroads of the West.” The downtown quarter of
the city is home to Temple Square where you’ll find the
Visitor Centre, Mormon Temple and Tabernacle, providing some insight to
the regions Mormon heritage. The State Capitol building is also found
downtown and is worth a visit. Salt Lake City also boasts museums
History and Fine Art, rounding out an incredible outdoor experience
with historic and cultural perspectives of the city.
• Zion and Bryce Canyon
National Parksare located off Interstate 15, just 4 hours south of Salt
Lake City. These parks highlight the fascinating geologic formations
that Southern Utah is so famous for. Bryce Canyon in particular is well
- known for its display of rich colors, boasting browns, yellows are
reds not typically seen in stone. A visit to Zion is truly out of this
world as you view seemingly impossible rock formations and hanging
gardens that frequent the many canyons available to explore.
• The base for our operations
in Utah is Moab ,it is a great starting point for trips into both
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and also provides us with some
of the best mountain biking, 4x4-touring, and hiking found anywhere in
the country , not to mention the whitewater!
• While here, be sure to visit
Dead Horse Point , just nine miles from Moab. Here you can see first -
hand one of the most spectacular vistas in the United States. The best
time to see the park is at sunset when you can watchthe changing colors
of the countless buttes, spires, and cliffs fade into the night.
• Moab is
flanked on either side by Canyonlands National Park and Arches National
Park Arches name comes from the high concentration of naturally formed
arches it boats, over 2,000 arches, interspersed spires, with balanced
rocks, and fins of sculpted sandstone. The incredible panoramas of the
snow-capped La Sal Mountains form the backdrop to an already remarkable
foreground. Canyonlands is divided up into 3 regions: The Needles,
Island in the Sky, and the Maze. Expansive and memorable views exist
around every turn of each of the parks. Just off the highway is
actually where the best views are , featuring seemingly endless
landscapes of some of the most impressive backcountry on Earth.