by Carrie Miller
Rippling waves of rock in reds and grays contrast with bent and broken boulders in Canyonlands National Park, Utah’s geologic Masterpiece. Through this timeless landscape forges the Colorado River, which concentrates 14 miles of its best white water in Cataract Canyon, an isolated stretch of river-carved rock. The best way to see this virtually untouched slice of earth, of course, is by raft. O.A.R.S. takes up to 16 thrill-seekers (minimum age: 8 years) on four- and six-day rafting trips that travel 100 miles down the Colorado, from Moab to Hite Marina on Lake Powell. The conditions range from peaceful to some of the largest rapids in North America, traveling between towering red-rock walls, past Anasazi ruins, and along Dead Horse Point, the climactic setting in Thelma & Louise. Hikes to waterfalls and Pictographs give the family time to catch its collective breath before dinner and beach camping under the wide open desert sky.