Fly into a wild and remote land of towering cliffs, tackle 50+ rapids, and relive a piece of Wild West history on this Green River rafting trip through Desolation Canyon.
Desolation Canyon became famous after John Wesley Powell’s historic descent of the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869 and 1871. This nearly untouched canyon is deeper in some places than Grand Canyon at the Bright Angel Trail, featuring scenic red rock canyon walls that tower overhead.
The canyon is also family-friendly, with more than 50 Class II-III rapids which can be navigated via oar raft, inflatable kayak, or paddle raft. Off the water, you’ll explore Native American cultural sites, abandoned homesteads, and maybe even the hideout of the infamous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Green River rafting trip through Desolation Canyon is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, camp locations, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day Before Your Trip
The evening before your trip, we’ll meet for a pre-trip orientation in Moab, UT. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and trip leader, and ask any last-minute questions.
Our trip begins with a scenic flight from Moab to the put-in at Sand Wash where you will have the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the desert landscape.
After a thrilling flight, you’ll hike 1.5 miles down into the canyon to meet our boats, guides, and personal gear on the banks of the Green River. Following a thorough safety talk, our river journey begins.
The trip begins on a calm stretch of the Green River. Depending on water levels, we may use the motor assist today as we have many river miles to cover before reaching camp. This is the perfect opportunity to take in the gorgeous canyon scenery and become acclimated to your boats, guides, and fellow travelers.
At lunchtime, we’ll pull over to a sandy beach for a delicious picnic. After feasting and enjoying the beach, we get back in our boats and watch the desert panoramas slowly develop as we make our way to camp by late afternoon.
Once there, you’ll grab your bags and set up your tent while the guides take care of the kitchen and “living room”—camp chairs and possibly the night’s campfire (if permitted). This is the perfect time for you to lounge on the beach with that book you’ve wanted to finish forever. Before long, you’ll be savoring pleasing hors d’oeuvres and the beverage of your choice. Nap, take an exploratory hike, or just sit back and laugh with friends and family as we prepare dinner.
After a satisfying meal, the evening is yours to spend however you wish. Maybe music, stories, or jokes will bring us together tonight; maybe the popping of the fire, the whisper of the river, and the clarity of the big, star-filled sky will encourage silent reflection on the amazing wilderness that is, for now, our home.
Days 2 – 4 or 5 (Depending on trip length)
Your days begin as the morning light paints the canyon walls with brilliant shades of desert colors. Fresh coffee and tea are waiting for you when you get up; grab a cup, sit back, and take in the glory of the awakening river. Soon breakfast is served, and once you’ve eaten your fill, you’ll pack up your things as the guides break down camp. Then our new day’s adventure begins!
We will encounter 40 million years of geologic time as we float through this deep canyon. This portion of the river was also home to the ancient Fremont-era people. Throughout our journey, we may stop to see thousand-year-old ruins or intriguing petroglyphs.
After hearty lunches and more exciting rapids, we’ll occasionally stop to stretch our legs. Outlaw history abounds in this remote part of the Green River, and we may check out an abandoned ranch where Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch spent their evenings.
During the evenings, we will make camp on beaches or cottonwood groves that likely allow access to great hiking trails. If our guides don’t arrange a hike, you may want to enjoy a self-guided walk, or perhaps you’d rather just relax and wait for dinner — always a trip highlight. The group dynamic of our trip is at its best when we gather around the camp “living room” for nighttime conversation and laughter.
The whitewater increases with each passing day through the canyon and there’s ample time to paddle an inflatable kayak or try out a stand-up paddleboard in the many bouncy riffles and waves you’ll encounter on our float. The three most thrilling rapids—Joe Hutch, Three Fords, and Coal Creek—await us on the second half of the adventure.
Day 5 or 6 (Depending on trip length)
After a handful of more fun, splashy rapids and one last delicious lunch, our trip will come to an end at Swasey’s Boat Ramp. After saying goodbye to your guides and taking a few last minute group photos, we will board a shuttle back to Moab, Utah.
Meeting Time & Place
7:00 PM, the evening before your trip
Approximately 4:30 – 5:30 PM, back to Moab
Dates & Prices
Save $200 on 2024 departures when you’re one of the first to book by March 31 and request “Premier Pricing” over the phone.
|May 14 All Adult
|June 18, 25, 30
|July 9, 16, 23, 30
|August 16 All Adult
|September 14 Hiker
*Youth pricing not available for trips departing in July
• $40 BLM use fee
Join OARS for splashy Class II-III whitewater fun on our adults-only Green River trip through Desolation Canyon
Join OARS for splashy Class II-III whitewater fun on our adults-only Green River trip through Desolation Canyon
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Moab
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- BLM Special Area Fee ($40)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Alcoholic beverages
The number and variety of boats on an OARS trip will vary based on water levels, the number of participants, and other factors we take into account when planning your adventure. Please be aware that in doing so we will ask you to share boat time with your fellow travelers. We don’t assign boats, nor can we guarantee exactly which crafts we bring, but trust us to provide you with the best possible mix for you and others on your trip.
Learn more about the OARS Fleet and the boats that may be a part of your experience: Oar raft, inflatable kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or paddle raft (requires 11 or more trip guests).
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Our first task is to unload the boats using a fire-line of crew and guests to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night.
While you put up your tent, the guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As guides prepare dinner, hors d’oeuvres are served. This is an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call lets you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit, and cold cereal are ready. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast.
After breakfast, the entire camp is broken down and packed up. Once the guides have all of the gear loaded back onto the boats, we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
More info about Meals & Dietary Restrictions can be found on our Trip Resources page.
Average Air & Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F
|Air (Night) °F
Water Levels & Temperature
The Green River’s headwaters lie in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, and its stream is repeatedly blocked and diverted, most significantly by the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, not far upstream from Dinosaur National Monument. Thus, its flow is determined primarily by reservoir releases, although the Yampa River’s natural flows in the spring impact the Green River greatly, as well. Peak run-off through Desolation Canyon usually occurs between mid-May and mid-June but can vary widely from early May and into July. High-water trips equate to a more intense whitewater experience and a high level of physical fitness is recommended. Water temperatures are coldest during the high water period and rain gear and warm synthetic clothing will be required.
This section of the Green River offers splashy Class III rapids. You will encounter more than 50 rapids along with calm stretches that inspire swimming, watching wildlife, or just gazing at the breathtaking canyon scenery. This scenic stretch of the Green is ideal for first-time rafters and children as young as 7, but not short on excitement for more seasoned boaters.
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposits
A $400/person deposit is required at the time of booking with final payment due 60 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 50 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Payments can be made by check, money order, eCheck, wire transfer, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency. Your payment is fully refundable for 48 hours, less a 3% processing fee, after making a reservation when you reserve a trip 7 days or more prior to departure.
Cancellations and Refunds
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below.
We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation
|180 or more days before your trip
|179 – 90 days before your trip
|89 – 60 days before your trip
|$200/person, balance available as a limited-time trip credit valid through the end of the following season
|59 days or less before your trip
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation email for details.
OARS reserves the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. In such instances, we will inform you at least 45 days before departure. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
If you need to move your reservation to a different trip during the same season, or to a credit account for the following year, there is a $25/person fee up until 90 days before departure for a one-time transfer of your payment. Transfer requests made 89 days or less before departure will be treated like a cancellation according to the schedule above.
O.A.R.S. Canyonlands, Inc. operates on the Green River as a permitted outfitter of the Bureau of Land Management
Ancestral Lands Acknowledgement
We respect and recognize that many of the river canyons on state and federal lands where we operate are the ancestral homes of indigenous communities. Where we operate on the Green River between Sand Wash and Swasey’s Boat Ramp, we acknowledge the territories of the Ute.
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