|MEETING PLACE:||The Gonzo Inn – 100 W 200 S, Moab, Utah|
|MEETING TIME:||6:00 PM, the evening before your trip|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 4:00-6:00 PM
|RIVER MILES:||94 miles total, 16 miles of whitewater with 34 named rapids consolidated into 1 ½ days of the trip|
|PUT-IN:||Potash Boat Ramp|
|TAKE-OUT:||Hite Crossing on Lake Powell|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 9 years / 16 at high water|
|TRIP LENGTH:||6 days/ 5 nights|
|BOAT TYPE:||Oar raft, Paddle raft*, Inflatable kayak, Stand-up paddleboard, Dory*, Snout|
*requires 11 or more trip guests
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day Before Your Trip…
We meet at 6:00 PM at the Gonzo Inn (100 W 200 S, Moab, UT 84532) for a pre-trip meeting. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and ask any last-minute questions. Your trip leader will give you a thorough trip orientation and pass out your waterproof river bags so you can pack your belongings that evening.
Day 1 – Meander Canyon
We’ll meet at the OARS Warehouse first thing in the morning, taking a short drive to our Colorado River put-in at Potash. Upon arrival at the boat ramp, our guides will present a safety talk and orientation to our boats and gear. We’ll cover some miles on the first day, likely stopping for a short hike to see some 250-million-year-old petrified wood. We’ll make camp on a big sandy beach, watching afternoon turn to evening as your guides prepare dinner and the sun sets behind towering canyon walls.
Days 2 – 4 – Meander Canyon and The Confluence
Morning begins with a coffee call from the kitchen. Grab a hot drink and watch the sunrise play out on the cliffs above you. Get a head start on packing up your dry bags, and then enjoy a hearty breakfast and some time to relax as we get our gear back on the boats. The river meanders peacefully, each new bend revealing stunning views of eroded canyon country. Hiking opportunities may come at the Lathrop archeological site or Indian Creek Canyon, where Ancestral Puebloan structures and a stunning seasonal waterfall await.
As we head downriver, the Colorado winds through the Loop—an exceptional example of the river’s convoluted twists and turns and a venue for another great hike—before we reach the confluence with the Green River. Here, the current picks up, signaling the beginning of Cataract Canyon. We’ll try for one of the great campsites in the upper reaches of Cataract Canyon. We won’t let the mesmerizing spectacle of a billion bright stars keep us awake too late, wishing to be well-rested for the days to come.
Weather permitting, the active hikers among us may make an early morning bid to hike 1,500 feet up to the Doll House, with astounding views in all directions. (Please note that this is a strenuous hike which can’t be undertaken during the intense heat of mid-summer.)
Day 5 – Cataract Canyon
This is usually the day that we’ll be off into the rolling depths of Cataract Canyon to challenge the Big Drops and the big wave thrills of the mighty Colorado. After a day of drenching whitewater excitement, we’ll make camp and toast to the thrills and spills with new friends. On the final night, revel at the river’s edge as your guides prepare a farewell feast.
Day 6 – Cataract Canyon, Narrow Canyon, & Lake Powell
After a delicious breakfast, we’ll be back on the boats winding through the final dramatic miles of Cataract Canyon, where lofty cliffs rise 2000 feet above us. There may be a few fun rapids left on this last morning before motoring the impounded waters of Lake Powell, held back by Glen Canyon Dam 180 miles or so downstream. After a final lunch on the river, we’ll come to our take-out at Hite Crossing where we’ll say goodbye to our guides and take a five-minute van shuttle to the airstrip. The scenic flight to Moab grants a bit of time to reflect, as we trace our path backwards through Cataract Canyon from high above, looking down on the beautiful landscape from a bird’s-eye perspective.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled professional guide service
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on the last day
- 5 nights catered camping
- 2 waterproof bags to hold your gear for the trip (approximate sealed size: 13” diameter x 25” tall; 3318 cu in; 54.4 L; not to exceed 25 lbs. each packed). Your sleeping bag and pad must fit into one bag and your remaining gear will fit into the other bag. Please note: If you rent our gear it will come already packed in one of the two waterproof bags issued to each guest. Your remaining gear, therefore, must fit in one
- 1 small waterproof bag for camera and other small items you’ll want during the day (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter; 1081 cu in; 17.7 L)
- 2-person tents, based on double occupancy. Solo travelers and odd numbers on the booking will have their own tent at no additional cost and will not need to share. Extra tents can be rented for $30 each.
- Personal flotation device (PFD) which must be worn at all times on the river in compliance with insurance requirements
- 12-ounce insulated Klean Kanteen with Café Lid to use for drinks in camp
- Camp chairs
- Eating utensils, cups and plates
- Highest quality inflatable rafts and related equipment
- Transfers to the river and back
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Moab
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Sleeping bag & a deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled pad
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Alcoholic beverages (be advised that the state-run liquor store closes at 7:00 PM)
- Items of a personal nature (see suggested packing list below)
Available For Rent
Please indicate on your guest registration form whether you want to rent a sleep kit or if you prefer to bring your own.
- Sleep Kit: Can be rented for $40 per person. Sleep kits consist of a sleeping bag with sheet liner, deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad, pillow and pillowcase.
- Sleeping Pad Only: The deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled pad only may be rented for $15.
- Extra Tent: Can be rented for $30 per tent.
TRIP PREPARATION CHECKLIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: For complete details and to purchase the plan we highly recommend, visit: https://www.oars.com/tpp
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant is required to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 60 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitations you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip and can meet our essential eligibility requirements.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 60 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
The day before your trip we will meet at 6:00 PM at the Gonzo Inn (100 W 200 S, Moab, UT 84532) for a pre-trip meeting. Your trip leader will provide a thorough trip orientation and pass out your waterproof bags so you can pack your belongings that evening. The trip leader will also confirm the meeting time for the following morning and give you an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions. Keep in mind that the state-run liquor store closes at 7:00 PM. Beer can still be purchased at gas stations and the grocery store and full-strength beer in cans can be purchased at the Moab Brewery.
Getting to Moab
|From Salt Lake City, UT||234 miles (4 hours)|
|From Grand Junction, CO||113 miles (2 hours)|
|From Cortez, CO||115 miles (2 hours)|
|From Durango, CO||158 miles (3 hours)|
If you’re arriving by car, parking is available at the OARS Warehouse located at 2802 Hwy 191 S, Moab, UT. On the morning of departure OARS staff will be present to show you to the designated parking area where your vehicle will stay during the duration of your trip. We cannot guarantee parking for large RV’s or trailers will be available.
OARS cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to vehicles or their contents.
Suggestions for parking RVs and campers:
- A-1 Storage – Auto, RV & Trailer Storage
1191 South Highway 191
- Carroll’s Storage – Auto, RV, Boat & Trailer Storage
1181 South Highway 191
- K&M Trailer Parking – Auto, ATV/UTV, Boat, Motorcycle, RV, Semi & Trailer Storage
2431 East Spanish Trail Road
- Moab Valley Storage – Auto, Boat, RV & Trailer Storage
4336 Sunny Acres Lane & 2420 West Terrace Drive
Personal belongings can either be stored in your vehicle or at your hotel so long as the hotel can make this accommodation. We are unable to store any personal belongings that don’t accompany you on the trip with the exception of heat-sensitive electronics like phones or tablets.
If you are parking at OARS your keys will be collected and returned to you at the end of your trip.
Commercial flights are available into Salt Lake City and Moab, UT; Cortez and Grand Junction, CO.
Charter flights to Moab from Salt Lake City, Grand Junction or Cortez are available through Redtail Air (800-842-9251).
If you don’t have a vehicle please arrange transportation to the OARS warehouse early on in your trip planning – finding short-notice transportation, like Uber or Lyft, is unlikely in Moab.
- Moab Express – Offers point to point shuttle services from Canyonlands Field (CNY) to commercial and private properties within the Moab area. Reservations can be made on their website.
- Moab Taxi (435) 210-4297 – Moab Taxi accommodates groups of four or less, services a 250 mile range, and offers scheduled transportation to Salt Lake or Grand Junction airports.
- Salt Lake Express – 208-656-8824 – Shuttles leave twice per day
- Check discovermoab.com/shuttle.htm for a full list of current operators.
Unless you have a large group, a rental car from Salt Lake City is usually the best option; even if it sits for a week while you are on the river.
There are two Enterprise Rent-A-Car locations in Moab. Please contact them directly for pricing and location hours as they are subject to change. Both can be reached at (435) 259-8505.
After Your Trip
Your return time to Moab will be between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. Please be advised, however, that it may be necessary for your belongings to be transported in the shuttle truck, which will arrive in Moab several hours after you do. (The plane’s luggage allowances vary depending on the number and weight of guests on each flight.) Because of the possibility for delays and late arriving luggage, we strongly suggest overnighting in Moab after your trip.
A $199 per person transportation package is included in your trip cost for the return flight from the take out at Hite Crossing to Moab at the end of the trip. If you prefer not to fly, we will deduct this fee from your trip cost and you may arrange to have your vehicle shuttled to the takeout point. For car shuttle information, please contact:
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. (Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost).
- Gonzo Inn* (800) 791-4044
- Big Horn Lodge (435) 259-6171
- Moab Rustic Inn (435) 259-6177
- Best Western Greenwell (435) 259-6151
- Best Western Canyonlands (435) 259-5167
*Please mention you are an OARS guest when making your reservation as some hotels offer our guests a special discounted rate.
Other Camping Options
The Colorado River can exhibit extreme variations in water levels at different times of the year, providing a whitewater experience for everyone. In the high-water season of May and June, experienced whitewater enthusiasts delight in the huge waves and the famous “Big Drops,” which at times can make even the Grand Canyon’s Lava and Crystal Rapids seem tame. This is some of the biggest navigable whitewater in the U.S. at peak flows. Later in the season, from July through October, as the water levels drop, this becomes a more moderate run with less intimidating rapids, suitable for most ages and levels of experience.
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. The following boats may be a part of your experience:
Oar Raft, Paddle Raft (requires 11 or more trip guests), Inflatable Kayak, SUP, Dory, Snout
Learn more about the boats on your trip at https://www.oars.com/experience/boats/
The dammed waters of Glen Canyon back up into the lower stretches of Cataract Canyon, with some 20-plus rapids still buried under water or sediment. With the wildly varying reservoir levels and changes in seasonal river flow, this stretch of the river is always in flux. The sheer depths within the Cedar Mesa & Honaker Trail formations are breathtaking, but camps become limited and are often on the sediment beds that used to be the bottom of Lake Powell when it was at full-pool. Reservoir levels and river flow will dictate how much time motorized assistance will be needed to navigate this last section of the trip.
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the boats using a bag 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. On the first night in camp, a crew member will give a demonstration on setting up a tent, which you’ll see is quick and easy. 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 dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have 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 will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. 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 is served, the entire camp will be broken down and packing will be completed. The gear will then be loaded onto the boats and we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
The meals we serve are hearty and delicious, complete with fresh ingredients and a variety of foods. A typical morning on a multi-day trip might start with French toast, bacon, fruit, orange juice, and coffee or tea. Lunch might be a delicious salad, spread of cold cuts and cheeses with several types of bread, or pitas stuffed with veggies and hummus. There are always cookies and a cooling drink. At dinner, our guides’ cooking skills truly shine—sizzling steaks or salmon, chicken enchiladas, and delicious stir-fry dishes are all part of their repertoire. Dinner generally includes a salad, and desserts are frequent. Hors d’oeuvres are a pleasant surprise before many meals.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be a supplemental menu fee, ranging from $5-$25 per person per day, to cover any increase in our costs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets without applying a fee. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu. Similarly, certain allergen-free snack foods are difficult or impossible to source in our locations, we encourage you to bring your own favorite snacks to supplement our provisions. Please let your Adventure Consultant know if you intend to do so.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. We recommend that anyone who has had an allergic reaction, be it mild or severe, secures an Epi Pen (or equivalent) for the trip. Also, due to the constraints of cooking for a large group in a wilderness setting, availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we are unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
We provide fresh water and an assortment of soft drinks, including sodas, sparkling water, fruit juices and lemonade. Utah’s commercial outfitters may not provide any type of alcohol for their guests. You may bring your own supply of beer, wine or liquor in non-glass containers. If you choose to bring your own drinks (other than what we provide) or alcoholic beverages, please let us know in advance, ideally at the pre-trip meeting. For your safety and the safety of others, alcoholic beverages are limited to camp.
Beer is available in grocery stores and gas stations. For wine and liquor, you will need to go to the Utah State Liquor Store. The hours are 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM year-round. They are closed on Sundays and holidays, including Pioneer Day (July 24). You may check their website for further information and to see what beverages are available: abc.utah.gov/.
OARS is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our guests and for our staff. We ask that smoking of any kind be done away and downwind from other trip participants.
We are obligated to adhere to the regulations established by the managing agency with jurisdiction over the area in which our trip operates. Use of marijuana on federal lands, whether it be medicinal or recreational, is illegal and therefore we ask that you refrain from bringing it with you on your OARS trip.
We carry sufficient drinking water along with us to provide for your needs throughout the trip. Water jugs are accessible in camp, on the boats, at lunch and before hikes for filling personal water bottles. In some cases, we will re-supply water jugs with water filtered through a purification system we provide. (No iodine is used in the purification process.)
The opportunity to explore the area will depend on several variables, such as the amount of time spent in the boats (often 4-6 hours per day), the time it may take to break camp in the morning and to reach our next camp in the afternoon, other groups in the area, weather and more. We make every effort to provide guided excursions to nearby points of interest, some of which are brief walks while others are long hikes requiring more planning. The trip leader must consider the overall ability of the group when deciding what hikes to offer. In anticipation of doing some side exploration during your trip, remember to bring a water bottle and lightweight shoes that are comfortable for walking on uneven terrain. All hikes are optional so you can choose to relax by the boats or in camp instead. If you are an avid hiker, please let your Adventure Consultant know prior to your trip so the trip leader is aware.
If you are going to fish on your OARS trip you will need to purchase the correct fishing license(s) for your trip. In Utah, youth under 12 do not need a fishing license. Adults can familiarize themselves with local fishing regulations, and purchase a three-day, seven-day or annual Utah permit online at www.wildlife.utah.gov. You will also need to bring your own rod, tackle, and/or bait*.
When you reach the put-in there is a large sign to the right of Potash Boat Ramp featuring full color photos of the native endangered species, and the many prevalent invasive species. Even if you procure a copy of the local fishing regulations, we suggest snapping a picture of this sign to refer back to as you catch fish.
*Fishing rods must be collapsible, and have a hard case. Please tell your guide about your fishing gear at the pre-trip meeting so they can plan adequate storage space. All hooks must be de-barbed in deference to the endangered native fish in the river which must be released immediately if caught. Additionally, if a hook is swallowed, you must cut the line at the mouth. Do not try to dig out a swallowed hook on a native fish. Threatened or endangered species must be released immediately, while invasive species may not be released.
The Portable Toilet
While the idea of a river trip is appealing to most people, many are inhibited or reluctant because of modesty or uncertainty. To minimize our impact, we carry out all solid human waste and use a portable toilet system that is set up each day at camp in a secluded location a discrete distance from tent sites. It is essentially a toilet without plumbing and is available from the time you pull into camp each afternoon until you leave camp the next day. Toilet paper and a convenient hand-washing station are provided.
We also carry a small container called the “day tripper” that can be easily accessed during the day should the need arise. It is a personal disposable toilet, which includes an odor-proof transport bag, chemical solidifier and odor eliminator, toilet paper and an oversized hand wipe.
On popular stretches of wilderness rivers, the common refrain is “dilution is the solution to pollution.” It is important for the desert environment that we practice this approach by urinating in the river during the day.
Bathing is allowed in the Colorado River, but must be done with biodegradable soap. It is not, however, allowed in any of the side streams that feed into the river. If you plan to bring soap, we recommend Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s, which can be purchased in most stores that have a camping section. Disposable anti-bacterial towelettes (Coleman Swash Cloths, baby wipes, etc.) are good alternatives to submersion in the river and are especially convenient for spring and fall trips.
Clothing can easily be washed out in the river with biodegradable soap. With the dry warm climate in Canyonlands, lightweight clothing generally dries out quickly. Please Note: The color of the river fluctuates from completely clear to very silty. Light colored clothing has the possibility of becoming permanently stained.
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store products while you are on the river or hiking. Used pads or tampons can be disposed of in the trash at lunch or camp. We provide some menstrual products on most trips for emergencies.
We provide a small waterproof bag (17” tall x 9” diameter—approximate sealed size) to hold your camera and other items you might need during the day. While these bags are designed to be waterproof, we recommend you place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. We also strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera—especially if it’s fine equipment. Make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries and any other extras you will need.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home*.
Many of our guests travel with their smartphone even though there is no cell service. On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof case just for your phone.
*The use of drones is prohibited by the National Park Service in Canyonlands.
We are not able to provide a power source for powering or recharging devices. To keep cameras, phones, GPS, a CPAP and other devices working you may need spare batteries or portable power. Options include compact portable solar panels that can recharge devices directly, portable power banks that store power, or a combo unit that can be charged before the trip and recharged with a built-in solar panel. Solar panels must be designed to withstand outdoor elements and fit in your dry bag (roll-up or no larger than 12” x 12”). Keep in mind direct sunlight in a river canyon may be limited and even non-existent at camp (mornings and evenings).
Once you are on the river, there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. Our guides carry a satellite communication device for emergency use. They can call out, but we cannot call them. The trip leader will periodically check in with our office. If someone needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home, before you depart on your trip you should define what you consider to be an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
Wildfires & Smoke
Fire activity frequently impacts the air quality on our trips, and occasionally wildfires may be present in the immediate vicinity of where we’re traveling. Smoke impacts are more likely in the latter-half of the summer season, so those with asthma or other respiratory conditions may wish to steer clear of this time frame. In general, we will not cancel a trip on account of smoky conditions, except in cases of clear danger to life or property. Necessary changes to logistics and/or destination may occur with very short notice as fire conditions are constantly changing. We will do our best to keep you apprised of excessively smoky conditions that can be foreseen for your upcoming trip, but we also encourage you to stay informed about local fire activity: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/.
Our standard cancellation terms & conditions apply should you choose to cancel due to environmental conditions resulting from a wildfire near to where our trip operates. Please review our Terms & Conditions section in this document, below. Furthermore, we recommend you consider investing in a comprehensive Travel Protection Plan that provides you the ability to “cancel for any reason” should you feel conditions from a nearby wildfire may result in you canceling your reservation.
Our guides do not carry firearms on our trips, and in most cases, are prohibited from doing so by the managing agency. As a matter of preference, we ask all our guests to kindly leave your own firearms at home or in your vehicle.
If you require the use of a CPAP machine and intend to bring one with you, be sure to alert your OARS Adventure Consultant prior to your trip to let us know the dimensions of the machine, description of battery(s), and any protective case(s). Travel-sized CPAP’s are readily available and often come with a battery kit. You must assess the power needs of your CPAP and bring the battery(s) needed to operate it for each night of your travels. We’re able to accommodate the transportation of your machine and accessories on the trip in metal dry boxes or soft dry bags; however, please understand that despite efforts to protect your equipment we can’t guarantee your machine and accessories won’t suffer water or impact damage and therefore we recommend additional protective case(s) for your machine & accessories.
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend the following website: www.wunderground.com for weather in Moab, UT.
Average Air and Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F||Air (Night) °F||Water °F||Notes|
|April||73||42||57||Mild temperatures, with nighttime lows in the upper 40s|
|May||83||51||60||Warmer temps with wildflowers beginning to bloom|
|June||95||56||72||Daytime highs in the 90s; fewer wildflowers|
|July||101||66||81||Temps in the low 100s—bring water and sunscreen|
|August||96||64||75||Highs and lows similar to July, rare thunder showers|
|September||87||52||67||Lower temps with occasional thundershowers|
|October||74||40||62||Similar to April but with fewer daylight hours|
Water Levels & Temperature
The flow of the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon is generally unregulated, meaning no single reservoir controls the water level. The river can reach flows considered extreme during spring runoff in years when the high country feeding the Colorado River watershed has received a plentiful snowpack. Peak run-off through Cataract 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.
River Runners Responsibility Code
- Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
- Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
- Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
- Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
- Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
- No drugs or alcohol prior to, or during, your trip; alcohol is allowed in moderation in camp on overnight trips.
- Minimize your impact on the environment.
- Wear the OARS-issued and properly–fitted Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times when in the boats or swimming. Wear a helmet when required.
- Your children are your responsibility!
Packing for Your Trip
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: https://www.oars.com/video/pack-river-rafting-trip/
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
During the day—Start with a swimsuit and/or swim trunks and synthetic or merino wool shirt as a base layer. Additional layers for sun protection or insulation can be added and subtracted depending on the weather, temperature and how wet you’re getting in the rapids.
In camp—When the weather is warm, lightweight cotton pants/skirt or shorts and shirt make great camp wear. Anytime the forecast calls for cool evenings and cold nights, a dry set of long underwear is the perfect base layer under long pants and a fleece sweater.
During the day—The best choice is an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heel strap are a good option, especially on rivers with sandy beaches. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco® at www.chacos.com, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
In camp—We recommend wearing shoes in camp due to risk of kicking a rock buried in the sand or stepping on a sharp stick. The athletic shoes or light hikers you bring for hiking can double as your camp shoes. It’s nice to put on dry socks and shoes after a day on the water. Flip flops or slip-on sandals are OK for wearing in camp only.
Please note: If you buy new shoes or sandals for the trip, make sure you break them in first!
During the day—Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. Ball caps are also useful since they fit under helmets, which are required attire when paddling our whitewater rivers.
In camp—When the weather is cool or cold, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear in camp. They are the perfect remedy for bed-head as you rise from your sleeping bag to secure your morning cup of coffee or tea, or for retaining warmth in the evening hours after the sun sets.
Hot Weather Trips
During summer months, conditions on the river may be hot and sunny. These trips require less gear than spring or fall trips, but thoughtful packing is still required. Protection from the sun and heat will be critical to your enjoyment and health while on the river and during side hikes. To protect yourself from the sun’s rays, consider bringing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
A good way to keep cool is with a sarong or long-sleeved cotton shirts. Old collared dress shirts work well. They can be soaked in the water and worn in the raft or carried on a hike for later use. This method of evaporative cooling is very effective. Bandanas are another useful item that can be used in this manner. Camp-wear should be made of cotton and be loose-fitting. A combination of shorts/skirt and a lightweight top is ideal for staying cool on hot afternoons.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on any river trip. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when the chill of the morning has worn off. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily), dries quickly, and it’s compact enough to be stuffed into your small waterproof bag or daypack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. In cooler weather a rain jacket and pants work better than a wetsuit, because the jacket and pants can be put on when it’s cold, or when you’re going through whitewater, then easily taken off when the sun comes out and it’s hot. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm during cool, wet weather.
Something warm for your top & bottom: You need to be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double up on your base layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the boat and a set of warm, dry clothes for camp.
April, May, September and October Trips: These are surely some of the most beautiful months to be on the Colorado River, but they can also produce some surprisingly chilly times. During the fall, the sun is not far enough north in the sky for its warming rays to reach down into the river canyon for as many hours a day as it does in the summer. This means more shady areas, fewer sunny ones. Therefore, when you are splashed (drenched) going through the rapids and you’re in a shady area, you will get very cold unless you are prepared.
Rain gear protects you from rain, wind and the splash of the rapids. It is one of the essential items that all guests should have no matter what time of year you are traveling. Look for jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles. Do not bring a rain poncho as it cannot be worn under your PFD.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously! In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs.
A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are also a must. Rheos, the official sunglasses sponsor of OARS guides, offers polarized floatable nautical eyewear with 100% UV protection. Use promo code OARS15 to save 15% on any purchase from The Nautical Eyewear Collection.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can be bothersome at times in certain areas on the Colorado River, particularly after high water drops. Though this happens at different times every year, it typically begins in June and extends into July. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
You have the option to bring your own sleeping bag, pad and pillow. Or you can rent our sleep kit. If you are purchasing your own bag for the trip, keep in mind that a synthetic-fill bag rated to 20°F (the normal range for an all-around, “three-season” bag) is recommended for early and late season trips.
Suggested Packing List
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Sleeping bag, pad, sheet liner, and small pillow. Sleep kits including these items may be rented for $40
☐ Two 1-liter water bottles: durable and reusable, insulated bottle recommended for trips in hot climates to prevent water from becoming too hot to drink
☐ Locking carabiner (for clipping a water bottle or personal dry bag into a raft or inflatable kayak
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing extra batteries)
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized such as Rheos floatable eyewear www.rheosgear.com) with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Small, quick-drying towel
☐ Hand sanitizer
☐ Toiletries, including biodegradable soap (such as Campsuds or Dr. Bronner’s)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities
☐ River shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco® chacos.com)
“Aqua socks” strongly discouraged
☐ Athletic shoes or light hikers: for hikes or in camp
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap – flexible enough to fit under your helmet
☐ Rain jacket & pants: waterproof (not water resistant). A hooded jacket with secure closures is recommended
☐ Swimwear / trunks: 2-piece suits recommended for women. Tankinis and board shorts are a great option
☐ Shorts: 1-2 pair
☐ T-shirts/tops: 1-2
☐ Synthetic or merino wool long underwear: 1 set top & bottom (light-, mid- or expedition-weight depending on the time of year)
☐ Jacket: fleece or down/synthetic fill puffy (depending on the time of year, weather, location)
☐ Camp clothes: comfortable and appropriate for season. Cotton recommended for hot weather trips. Women may prefer an athletic skirt or dress
Additional Essentials for early/late season trips (April / May / early June / September / October):
☐ Wetsuit booties and/or neoprene, wool or synthetic socks (for wearing inside your river shoes)
☐ Fleece top & bottom
☐ Warm hat and gloves: synthetic or wool
☐ Extra set of synthetic or merino wool long underwear top and bottom
☐ Neoprene paddling gloves
☐ Camera and accessories
☐Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc
☐ Small day pack, waist pack or hydration pack for side hikes
☐ Bathing wipes: pre-moistened disposable towels
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your dry bag
☐ Large empty bag: laundry bag, pillow case or similar for putting clothes into after your trip
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Splash jacket and pants
☐ Lightweight cord and clothespins for drying clothes
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Stand-up Urination Device
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Packing Your Gear
At the pre-trip meeting each person will be given two large waterproof bags (approximate sealed size: 13” diameter x 25” tall; 3318 cu in; 54.4 L). One bag will be for your clothing and personal items; the other bag will be for your sleeping gear (sleeping bag, sleeping pad, sheet and pillow). These two bags will be your “checked luggage” and will only be accessible in camp. Tents are stowed separately. Please note: if you rent our sleep kit, it will come already packed in one of the 2 waterproof bags issued to each guest. We also provide a small waterproof bag for day use where you can keep items such as rain gear, camera, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. (approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter; 1081 cu in; 17.7 L). The bags are cylindrical in shape and pack from the top. Please pack light, and keep in mind that river attire is casual: comfort, convenience and boat space take precedence over style. At the end of the trip, you will return to Moab with your waterproof bags, where you will be able to unpack your gear before your trip home.
We recommend you take on the river only what’s absolutely necessary. Keeping gear to a minimum insures it will fit into the waterproof bags we supply and reduces unnecessary packing and unpacking in camp. If you do have extra luggage that you need to store, you may keep it locked in your car at our warehouse or you may be able to store it at the lodge you are staying at for an additional fee.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home. For personal items like wallets, purses and cell phones, we recommend putting them in a Ziploc bag at the bottom of your waterproof bag with your clothing.
Tipping is appreciated by our staff. If you are wondering how much to tip, you may consider that we operate in a service industry with a host of behind-the-scenes contributors in addition to the guides on your trip. In general, we suggest a gratuity based on 10 – 15% of the trip cost. It is customary on OARS trips for gratuities to be given to the Trip Leader, in the form of cash or a personal check, who will then distribute appropriately amongst all the guides and support staff.
In reviewing your statement, you’ll note a $1/person/day donation to Utah Rivers Council a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to Utah’s rivers and clean water sources. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to Utah’s rivers and your contribution is tax-deductible. This donation is voluntary and may be removed from your invoice if you choose not to participate. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
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Terms & Conditions
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.
Cancelling 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 prior to departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 50 days prior to the departure date will be cancelled 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 prior to 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 (see Travel Protection below).
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|180 or more days prior to your trip||$50 per person|
|179 – 90 days prior to your trip||$100 per person|
|89 – 60 days prior to your trip||$200 per person|
|59 days or less prior to your trip||Full Fare|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation e-mail 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 prior to 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 prior to departure for a one-time transfer of your payment. Transfer requests made 89 days or less prior to departure will be treated like a cancellation according to the schedule above.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying an OARS trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
Because there are costs that you will incur if you cancel your reservation after the rescission period, or in the event you need to be evacuated during the trip due to illness or injury, we strongly encourage our guests to purchase an optional travel protection plan. A travel protection plan can reimburse you for non-refundable payments for cancellations due to covered medical reasons; and trip participants must understand that in the event of illness or injury on a wilderness trip, evacuation can be prolonged, difficult and expensive. For complete details and to purchase the plan we highly recommend, visit: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Please note: To be eligible for coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your initial trip payment and you must be medically fit to travel at the time you pay for the plan. Coverage does not take effect until the plan premium has been paid.
Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage can be purchased as stand-alone coverage, independent of a comprehensive travel protection plan. You can get a quote for this type of policy by entering a Trip Cost amount of $0 when getting a quote here: www.oars.com/tpp
Please note: By entering a Trip Cost amount of $0, the plan will not include Trip Cancellation coverage and you may not be eligible for Emergency Medical Expense benefits relating to any pre-existing conditions.
Liability Release / Assumption of Risk
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release/assumption of risk form before the trip, confirming awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. Due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with OARS cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. Canyonlands, Inc. and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, pandemics, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and wellbeing of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 4 guests – 6 for gourmet, craft beer and wine trips), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept guests weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, all travelers must obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. Prices subject to change without notice. Upon advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. OARS is an equal opportunity provider.