By Pam Grout
O.A.R.S. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
What you'll do: Outdoor Adventure River Specialists (O.A.R.S.) began in 1969 as the first oar-powered outfitter leading trips through the Grand Canyon. Today they lead expeditions along more than 35 rivers and coastlines around the world. On this trip, you'll raft the Colorado River through Utah's Cataract Canyon, which features adrenaline-producing Class IV and V white water (expect large waves and considerable drops, all navigated with the help of your guide). In the spring when runoff from the Rocky Mountain snow melt pours into the Colorado, the rapids of Cataract Canyon rival those of the Grand Canyon. You"ll camp alongside the river and hike through 300-million-year-old side canyons to rock formations and Native American ruins with petroglyphs and pictographs. At the Lathrop Ruins, look for the solstice calendar, petroglyphs that mark and capture the summer and winter solstices. It was created by the Anasazi people, who inhabited this area 2,000 years ago.
The setting: Moab, Utah, where you'll meet your group and guide, is flanked by two national parks, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. As you float the river through Canyonlands with it's dramatic red rocks, buttes, and pinnacles, you'll glimpse Dead Horse Point, which you might recognize as the place where Thelma & Louise, and their baby blue Thunderbird convertible made their final escape from the law.
Details: You don't need previous rafting experience to enjoy this six-day trip; all skill levels are welcome. The trip includes all meals and guides, and tents sleeping bags, and other equipment are available as rentals.