Learn to guide your own raft on the Green River through Flaming Gorge and the Gates of Lodore with the company twice named “The Best River & Sea Outfitter On Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.
Learn to guide an oar raft down the upper stretches of the Green River in northeastern Utah with one of the most reputable rafting outfitters in the world. As you travel through two strikingly beautiful river canyons into the heart of Dinosaur National Monument, our experienced river guides—all with whitewater rescue training and extensive guiding experience—will share a wealth of outdoor and river knowledge with you.
On this 7-day, 6-night beginner whitewater rowing course, you’ll learn and practice essential rafting skills as you make your way downstream, camping at different locations throughout the trip. Instruction and hands-on learning occur both on the river and in camp. No prior outdoor or whitewater rafting experience is required.
This 7-day floating whitewater clinic is appropriate for:
- Anyone interested in working as a professional whitewater rafting guide
- Individuals interested in guiding their own private river trips
- Anyone who appreciates experiential learning or an active vacation experience and is interested in whitewater and river safety
Why sign up for the Upper Green River Rowing Clinic with OARS?
- OARS has been a leader in the whitewater industry since 1969
- We use top-notch, well-maintained equipment and set the gold standard in safety
- We keep our courses small (1 guide for every 4 participants) to provide plenty of personal attention to participants
- Our experienced, well-rounded guide instructors are personable, approachable and the best in the business
- We are committed to treading lightly on the environment
- Outside magazine, National Geographic Traveler, MSNBC, Good Morning America, Condé Nast Traveler, and Men’s Journal have all recognized OARS as offering some of the “Best Trips” on the planet
Start Your Career as a River Guide
While OARS’ rowing clinics are ideal for anyone looking to learn something new or develop their whitewater rowing skills, our whitewater guide school programs are better suited for aspiring river guides with no prior experience. If you’re an experienced guide and would like to get your foot in the door with OARS, we encourage you to read our Hiring and Guide School FAQs and fill out an employment application.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Upper Green River Rowing Clinic 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
We’ll meet this evening for a pre-trip orientation in Vernal, UT. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow participants and trip leader, and ask any last-minute questions.
We begin our trip with a scenic drive from Vernal to our put-in below the Flaming Gorge Dam, where the boats and the rest of the OARS crew await. After a detailed safety talk, our journey begins.
The first day is full of fun whitewater, including Anticipation Rapid, Roller Coaster Rapid, Mother-in-Law Rapid, and Red Creek Rapid. The splashy, crystal-clear waters of the Green River carry us into the heart of Ashley National Forest. These class I-II rapids are ideal for learning how to read water and navigate with oars.
Our first day sets the pace for the rest of our days on the river with a mix of on the water rowing and time in the outdoor classroom. Typically, we spend a few hours on the water in the morning, sometimes stopping for a great hike or a refreshing swim. At lunchtime, we pull over to a beach and enjoy a delicious picnic and a guide-led class on river-running. During these stops, as well as in the evenings, we’ll dive into whitewater topics from A to Z.
You’ll leave the Upper Green River Rowing Clinic with a better understanding of:
- Reading whitewater & hydrology
- Maneuvering oar rafts through a variety of whitewater levels & conditions
- Raft rigging/de-rigging & proper equipment maintenance
- River signals & crew communication tactics
- River etiquette
- Camp skills – setting up a safe/comfortable camp, food handling/preparation & proper hygiene
- Leave No Trace principles
- Tying up and anchoring boats
- How to handle wildlife encounters & pesky critters
- Multi-day trip group dynamics
- Team problem solving
- Basic river rescue & emergency procedures
When we reach camp by mid- to late afternoon, you grab your bags and set up your tent while the guides take care of the kitchen and “living room”—camp chairs and the site for tonight’s campfire (if permitted). This is also a chance to learn from the guides about gear, camp setup, and cooking in the backcountry, or just unwinding with a beverage of your choice.
Before long, you’ll be savoring pleasing hors d’oeuvres and a satisfying meal prepared by your guides. The evening is yours to spend however you wish.
Your days begin with the morning light turning the canyon walls the colors of sunrise. 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.
As we descend into Brown’s Park, swift currents carry us through Swallow Canyon and into the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge. The whitewater calms down and we practice rowing on flat water. This is an ideal time to practice and perfect our new skills before the whitewater picks up again in Lodore Canyon.
Wide open skies and sunrise greet you this morning as you wake up in the outlaw country of Brown’s Park. This day will be another day to practice rowing in some calmer water. Each day will be a mix of on-river learning and active participation. We row the rest of Browns Park and into Dinosaur National Monument where the striking scenery of the Canyon of Lodore immediately grabs our attention as we pass through the spectacular “Gates.”
Today the whitewater element of our trip starts off with a bang as we challenge some of the river’s most exciting rapids in Lodore Canyon: Winnie’s Rapid, Upper and Lower Disaster Falls. Here, Major Powell lost one of his boats and innumerable provisions during his 1869 journey—hence the rapids’ ominous name.
Once we stop for the evening, we’ll have class and camp in the beautiful red rocks of Lodore Canyon.
The whitewater really intensifies today, and we put our skills to the test. Harp Falls, Triplet Falls, and Hell’s Half Mile are just a few of the first rapids that provide plenty of big thrills. Several smaller waves and riffles keep us busy, yet there are enough calm sections to allow us time to sit back and soak in the remote splendor of Lodore, with its soaring red rock cliffs sprinkled with deep green junipers and pinyon pines.
We will pass the confluence with the Yampa River, as we wind around gigantic Steamboat Rock and into Echo Park. We will travel through some of the oldest exposed rock in the world. As we descend further into the canyon, we have the rare opportunity of seeing various layers that comprise the surrounding cliffs, each layer representing a different stage of the earth’s development. Hundreds of millions of years of geological formation are displayed in the walls around us.
Upon reaching Whirlpool Canyon, we might take the longest hike of our trip by following beautiful Jones Hole Creek to amazingly well-preserved panels of pictographs and petroglyphs.
After a bit of flat water, we pick up speed and enter Split Mountain Canyon, where the river’s gradient becomes considerably steeper. Four major rapids deliver plenty of whitewater excitement during the last day on the river. When we reach our take-out point at Split Mountain, we’ll take a short ride back to the OARS Warehouse in Vernal.
Meeting Time & Place
7 PM, the evening before your trip
Approximately 3:30 – 5:30 PM to Vernal
Dates & Prices
20% discount off regular price for active military personnel, emergency first responders and students with a valid university ID!
• Dinosaur National Monument Entrance Fee
• Sleep Kit $40 | Tent included
*Prices subject to National Park Service review
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Vernal
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Dinosaur National Monument Entrance Fee
- Sleep kit: sleeping bag, pillow & a deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad (available for rent)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Alcoholic beverages
The Upper Green River rowing clinic uses oar rafts, as learning/enhancing rowing skills is the focal point of this trip. Please be aware that we will ask you to share boat time and rowing opportunities with your fellow travelers. Learn more about rafts and the rest of the OARS Fleet.
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 °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 by reservoir releases. The Green will spike in the spring and early summer as the controlling agency at Flaming Gorge Dam releases water to make room for inflow typically between mid-May and mid-June, but can vary widely from early May and into July. After peak flows, reliable releases from Flaming Gorge continue to provide water levels suitable for rafting throughout the summer months.
This section of the Green River offers thrilling Class III rapids, interspersed with calm sections that inspire swimming, watching for wildlife, and gazing at the canyon scenery. Despite these slower stretches, the whitewater is consistent on the Green—you’ll challenge major rapids each day, plus lots of smaller waves and riffles. This scenic stretch of the Green is ideal for a beginner whitewater rowing course, but not short on excitement.
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. Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). 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.
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. Final payment is 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.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
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. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|180 or more days before your trip||$50/person|
|179 – 90 days before your trip||$100/person|
|89 – 60 days before your trip||$200/person|
|59 days or less before your trip||Full Fare|
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. is an authorized concessioner of Dinosaur National Monument and a permitted outfitter of the Ashley National Forest.
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 Flaming Gorge Dam and Split Mountain Canyon, we acknowledge the territories of the Ute and Eastern Shoshone.
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