Cataract Canyon is the Best!

Cataract Canyon (3 to 5 Day Trips)

Deep in the heart of Canyonlands National Park, the Green and Colorado Rivers combine forces to carve stunning canyon walls and create some of the biggest whitewater in North America. With no dams upstream, unregulated spring runoff can cause water levels to swell to epic proportions. House-sized boulders flushed into the river by debris flows create huge waves and impressive hydraulic features with names like “Satan’s Gut,” “Little Niagara,” and “The Claw.” The wild rapid section culminates in the “Big Drops” as the Colorado plunges over slabs of broken rock, coming to rest at a much lower elevation. No one soon forgets his or her first ride through Cataract Canyon!

But before and after the turbulent rapid section, easy flatwater stretches provide ample time for relaxing, taking in the views and connecting with the other interesting people on your trip. Colorful canyon walls tower high above the river, closing out the rest of the world while opening up to expansive heights. Engaging hikes will take you to fascinating rock art left by Native Americans, plunging pools and waterfalls cascading down a side canyon, and up and over a ridge to meet the river on the other side. Things wind down as the river enters the calm waters of Lake Powell on the last day. And as a final treat, your return flight to Moab will cross the winding path of the river and provide a sneak peak into the vast red rock wilderness of Canyonlands National Park.

Click the links below to learn more about the three different trips we offer on this exciting stretch of the Colorado River.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the classifications of the rapids?

Cataract Canyon whitewater is famous for good reason: flows during the spring runoff can exceed volumes found anywhere else in North America, including the Grand Canyon! Rapids range from Class III to Class V, depending on water levels. Early-season trips tend to feature explosive water and intense rides, whereas later-season trips offer a slightly mellower (but still exhilarating) whitewater experience. Seasoned rafters and adventurous first-timers alike will delight in the wet and wild waves of Cataract Canyon.

What kind of boats will we be in?

During high spring flows, guests enjoy riding across roller coaster waves on the wide, sturdy “S-rig” raft with a guide steering an outboard motor in the back. As water levels drop throughout the summer, we swap the “S-rig” for 18’ row rafts. On the first and last day, these smaller boats will be strapped together with an outboard motor to quickly cover long stretches of flatwater. The boats will separate above the rapids and be maneuvered individually by guides while you enjoy the splashing waves and magnificent scenery. Later-season trips may include 16’ paddle rafts (if group size and water level permit) for added adventure.

How hot or cold will the weather be? Will it rain?

Moab’s Canyon Country is known for its fantastic weather. In the spring and fall, daytime temperatures range from 60-80 degrees F, dropping to 30-50 degrees at night. Expect summer temperatures between 85 and 105 degrees during the day and 55-75 degrees at night. Rainstorms tend to be rare and short-lived in this area, but a light rain jacket may be handy for cool mornings or late afternoon showers. 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.

Can I bring my camera?

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.

May I bring my own beverages?

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.

What are the meals like?

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.

What are the toilet facilities like?

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.