|MEETING PLACE:||OARS Warehouse – 221 North 400 East, Vernal, Utah|
|MEETING TIME:||5:00 PM, the evening before your trip|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 6:00 PM|
|RIVER RATING:||Class III
|RIVER MILES:||+/- 50
|SECTION:||Split Mountain & Flaming Gorge sections of the Green River|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 18|
|TRIP LENGTH:||7 days|
|BOAT OPTIONS:||Oar raft, paddle raft|
ATTENTION: OARS has developed a COVID-19 General Mitigation Plan that seeks to minimize the chances that disease transmission will occur on our trips. A condition of participation is to read, understand and agree to follow the rules and guidelines and participate in all screening measures. Failure to comply with these conditions of participation will result in declination of service and/or removal from the trip.
Welcome to OARS Dinosaur Whitewater Guide School. Prior outdoor experience is not a prerequisite for this course. If you are in good shape, have a positive attitude, and want to learn wilderness skills in an outdoor setting, you are sure to have a memorable learning experience. This school is designed for those hoping to become a professional river guide, as well as people who would like to safely guide their own river trips and those simply wanting to learn more about whitewater rafting and the challenges a river journey entails.
Professional guides teach our Dinosaur Whitewater Guide School, each one passionate about the outdoors, whitewater rafting, river safety and sharing their knowledge. They all have formal whitewater rescue training and extensive backgrounds in leading whitewater rafting trips.
It is a treat to be able to learn whitewater rafting in the beautiful Green River canyon. Rippling red and brown sandstone contrasts with the deep green trees and grasses that grow along the river and up the canyon walls, creating the ultimate classroom. And of course, there is the river itself, first navigated by Major John Wesley Powell on his famous descent that led him through the Grand Canyon, the Green has long been a legendary whitewater run. Big-wave rapids are exciting for experienced boaters, but not so formidable as to discourage first-time rafters. This guide school provides the setting for participants to be able to competently maneuver rafts in intermediate Class III whitewater.
Course Content & Sample Itinerary
We pride ourselves in running a fast paced and high quality schedule. Every course is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your guide school might be like and the topics we may cover.
The Day Before Your Course…
We’ll meet at 5:00 PM at the OARS Warehouse in Vernal, Utah for a pre-trip meeting. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and guides and ask any last-minute questions. Your guides will give you a thorough trip orientation, and pass out your equipment, including: PFD (personal floatation device), helmet, wetsuit, splash jacket, and personal waterproof dry bags so that you can pack essential belongings for the following day.
Day to Day Schedule
This trip is designed to be a day trip on the river and return to the Vernal base at the end of each day. This is an educational course where the participants will be actively doing and learning in a true OARS guide training course. We will start each morning at 8am, organize and have a short class before heading out to the river for the day. We will have lunch on the river and a class or two before the end of the day. We then return to the base and complete the day around 5-6pm.
Participants will have the evening off. We do not have anything scheduled, this can be an opportunity to meet with the other Guide School participants or rest and recharge for the next day. We will not be providing dinner or breakfast, you will be responsible for this.
You are welcome to camp on the OARS base but there are limited amenities. If you are looking for more comfortable sleeping arrangements, you are welcome to stay at any of the hotels or campgrounds in Vernal.
We’ll review in detail essential knowledge about equipment, river hydraulics and safety considerations. We’ll learn about all the gear necessary for a successful rafting expedition and how to properly care for it. Some of the discussions at the river include how to rig the boats, safety talk, paddle talk, and water anatomy. Once we reach the warehouse after a day out on the water, we will unload all gear, clean up, and debrief, reviewing the day’s lessons.
We will also cover ACA’s program for Swift Water Rescue, and at the end of the week you will receive your certification
As we continue into the second half of our guide school, you will use everything you’ve learned from days one and two. Students will now be in charge of rigging the boats for the day’s events. We may even change venues and introduce the Flaming Gorge section of the Green River and Steinaker Lake for some rowing practice.
The following list is an example of the course content taught at Guide School.
- Paddle and oar raft techniques
- Route selection
Strategies (momentum, ferry angles, laterals, etc.)
- Boat spacing and river etiquette
- Paddle & oar raft safety talks
Basic Swiftwater Rescue
- Swimming in whitewater
- Hand signals
- Ropes, knots, slings and anchors
- Flipped raft scenarios
- Wrapped raft scenarios
- Basic “Z” rig
- Throw bag technique
- Strainer and foot entrapment scenarios
- Accident protocol
- Figure 8 and 8 retrace
- 8 on a bite
- 8 on bend
- Directional 8
- Water knot
- No knot
- Double 8
- Daisy chain
- Raft inflation & deflation
- Raft handling & storage
- Repair kit
Leave No Trace
- Review the 7 principles of Leave No Trace
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled professional guide instructors
- 6 nights camping at the OARS warehouse (limited amenities)
- Lunch each day
- Expedition equipment, including tent and dry bag for day use
- High-quality inflatable rafts, and related river equipment including paddle, helmet and personal flotation device
- Swiftwater Rescue Training (SRT) certification
- Transportation from the warehouse to the river and back
- Wetsuit & splash jacket (does not include footwear of any kind, including wetsuit booties)
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Vernal
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations, or accommodations during the the week of the trip
- Breakfast or dinner during guide school
- Dinosaur National Monument Entrance Fee*
- Sleeping bag & a deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad (these items may be rented from OARS)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Alcoholic beverages
- Items of a personal nature (a packing list will be provided)
- Dry suit (you are welcome to bring your own)
*DNM entrance fee is refundable only if a park pass is submitted to your Adventure Consultant (via email, fax or mail) prior to your trip departure.
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, deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled sleeping pad, ground tarp, sheet, pillow and pillowcase
- Sleeping Pad Only: The deluxe 3-inch thick air-filled pad only may be rented for $15
Trip Preparation Checklist
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: 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.
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need 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 limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 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 5:00 PM at the OARS Warehouse 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 re-confirm the meeting time for the following morning and give you an opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.
Getting to the OARS Warehouse
- From Salt Lake City, Utah (3.5 hours, approximately 173 miles) east to Vernal. As you approach from the west on US-40, turn north at the center of Vernal on US-191. Go two blocks and turn right on 200 North. Proceed four blocks to 400 East, turn left and drive two more blocks to get to the warehouse, which is on your left as you pull in.
- From Grand Junction, Colorado (2 hours, 40 minutes, approximately 142 miles); head west on Interstate I-70 to CO-139. Travel 73 miles north to CO-64 and turn left (west) toward Rangely, CO. Continue on CO-64 to Dinosaur then west on US-40 to Vernal. In Vernal, turn right on N 500 E, go two blocks north, then turn left on E 200 N. Turn right on N 400 E after one block into the OARS parking lot.
Parking a Car
If you’re arriving by car, parking is available at the OARS Warehouse.
OARS cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to vehicles or their contents.
Mileage and Driving Times to Vernal, UT
|From Salt Lake City, UT||173 miles (3½ hours)|
|From Grand Junction, CO||142 miles (3 hours)|
|From Denver, CO||329 miles (6 hours)|
|From Moab, UT||221 miles (4 hours)|
|From Helper, UT||105 miles (2½ hours)|
|From Rock Springs, WY||113 miles (2 hours)|
- Commercial flights are available into Salt Lake City and Vernal, Utah, or Grand Junction, Colorado.
- Redtail Air Adventures has charter flights from Salt Lake City to Vernal for an estimated cost of $535 per person (price is subject to change). A minimum of two passengers is required. Please call Redtail Air Adventures for more information: (435)259-7421.
By Rental Car
- There are many rental car options at the Salt Lake City airport and it is often more convenient to rent a car at the airport and return it after your trip. This allows you the flexibility to visit surrounding areas and sometimes is more economical than renting a vehicle one way.
- Le Bus – (800)366-0288 or www.lebus.com
By Bus or Train
- Greyhound services Vernal. There is one daily bus trip between Vernal and Salt Lake City. Amtrak services Salt Lake City and Helper, Utah.
After Your Trip
On the final day of your river adventure, you will be returned to the OARS Warehouse. You should arrive back by approximately 6:00 PM.
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).
- Dinosaur Inn & Suites* (435) 315-0123
- Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Naples Vernal* (435) 781-8141
*Please mention you are an OARS guest to receive a special discounted room rate
- The Marriott (435) 781-9000
- Best Western Antlers Motel (435) 789-1202
- Holiday Inn Express (435) 789-4654
- Comfort Inn (435) 789-6066
Other Camping Options
These sections of the Green River offer thrilling Class III rapids, interspersed with consistent whitewater—you’ll challenge major rapids plus lots of smaller waves and riffles. The Green River is ideal for first-time rafters and for learning the ins and outs of guiding.
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. Generally, we strive for travel units to travel together in boats with no more than one or two travel units per boat with limited mobility between various boats types during the day. However, the composition of some trips may at times require more than two travel units in a boat, which compromises our ability to achieve six feet of physical distancing between travel units. 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—The OARS flagship, oar rafts carry the bulk of the gear on most of our multi-day adventures. Your guide pilots with long oars from a center-mounted aluminum frame. Ample deck space allows for lounging in calm stretches, sturdy weight and width give your guide confidence to hit the big waves head-on. (Three to five passengers)
- Paddle Raft—The sportiest of crafts we put on the water, everybody handles a paddle while the guide steers and gives directions from the back of the boat. Paddling together is essential to finding the right run, and teamwork begets success. A thrilling way to brave the rapids! Helmets required. (Four to seven paddlers)
Attention: A paddle raft is typically only available on trips with 11 or more guests and may require participants to share space with one or more other travel units while physical distancing is not possible. Participation is optional.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we should consider in planning your trip. If you have additional food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. However, there may be an additional supplemental menu fee ranging from $5-20 per person per day to cover our costs.
Beyond our standard lunch 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.
Due to the constraints of cooking for a large group, availability of ingredients in remote locations and limited packing space, we are often unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
We provide fresh water and lemonade, while on the trip. Commercial outfitters may not provide any type of alcohol for their guests. You may bring your own supply of beer, wine or liquor for outside of class/trip hours. If you choose to bring your own drinks (other than what we provide) or alcoholic beverages. For your safety and the safety of others, alcoholic beverages are limited to camp.
You will have the opportunity to utilize the showers at our warehouse.
For Women Only
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 feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you are back at the warehouse. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
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 container just for your phone.
*The use of drones is prohibited by Dinosaur National Monument.
Once you are on the river there is limited communication with the “outside world.” Cell phone service is not available. Our guides carry satellite phones which are strictly used to call out in case of an emergency situation on the river. They can call out, but we cannot call them. If you have someone that 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, however, it could be several hours or longer depending what river you’re on and the activities that day. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your trip.
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.
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.
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. If this is a challenge for you please contact your OARS Adventure Consultant and our team will work to ensure you’re able to power the machine during the trip. 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 Vernal, UT.
Average Air and 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 sizably by the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, not far upstream from Dinosaur National Monument. Thus, its flow is determined by reservoir releases, which will spike in the spring and early summer as the controlling agency at Flaming Gorge Dam releases water to make room for inflow. Peak releases from Flaming Gorge on the Green 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
- Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Eligibility Criteria for River Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS river trip.
- Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
- Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
- Weigh less than 245 lbs. to ride in a dory.
- Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
- Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
- Ability to independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
- Ability to swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
- Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
- Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
- Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
- Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense, and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer. Your odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. On class IV and greater whitewater, the probability that you will become a non-voluntary swimmer is significant. A swim in whitewater is much more difficult and physically draining than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. This can be overcome by focusing on your breathing and calming yourself down. Swimming in cold water will also much more quickly sap your energy and decrease muscle function than swimming in warmer water. While our guides are highly trained and will do their absolute best to rescue you, a successful rescue is greatly hampered by a swimmer who is unprepared for a swim in whitewater, who fails to actively participate in their own rescue, and who is not able to follow directions while under stress. You will receive a detailed orientation talk at the start of your river trip, but you can get a better idea of what to expect by watching a version of an orientation talk here: http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
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.
All guests must supply their own hand sanitizer and reusable/washable face coverings (minimum of two) consisting of two or more layers. A clean face covering should be used each day of your trip; masks may be reused if they are washed. For more information, visit the CDC.
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, make sure you break them in first!
During the day – Ball caps and synthetic beanies are useful since they fit under helmets, which are required attire when paddling our whitewater rivers.
At base – When the weather is cool or cold, you’ll want a beanie-style hat to wear around the warehouse. 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.
To Avoid Being Cold
Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on river trips. 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 is 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.
May Trips: This is surely one of the most beautiful months to be on the Green River, but it can also produce some surprisingly chilly times. During the spring, 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 passengers 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. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. Rheos, the official sunglasses sponsor of OARS guides, offers polarized floatable nautical eyewear with 100% UV protection at www.rheosgear.com. Use promo code OARS15 to save 15% on any purchase from The Nautical Eyewear Collection.
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.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitos vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
You can either bring your own sleeping bag, pad and ground tarp, or you can use 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, small pillow, 5×7-foot tarp. Sleep kits including these items may be rented for $40 (for trips in April, May and early-June we suggest a synthetic-fill bag rated to 20°F)
☐ Two 1-liter water bottles: durable and reusable, insulated bottles 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
☐ 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
☐ Swimsuit / Trunks: 2-piece suits recommended for women. Tankinis 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
Additional Essentials for early/late season (April / May / early June / September):
☐ 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
☐ Feminine Urinary Device (for women only)
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Local Outdoor Equipment Stores
Basin Sports – 511 W Main St, Vernal; (435) 789-2199
Sportsman’s Warehouse – 2015 W, US-40, Vernal; (435) 789-5800
Hibbett Sports – 1495 W, US-40, Vernal; (435) 789-0555
Packing Your Gear
At the pre-trip meeting each person will be given a small waterproof bag for day use where you can keep items such as raingear, camera, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. (Approximate sealed size: 17” tall x 9” diameter; 1081 cu in; 17.7 L). The bag is cylinder in shape and packs from the top.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home. For personal items like wallets, purses and cell phones, please check with the trip leader about storing them in the OARS office.
Tipping is optional, but 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 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 the Yampa River Awareness Project of the Friends of the Yampa, a non-profit conservation organization that strives to protect and enhance the environmental and recreational integrity of the Yampa River, its basin, and its tributaries through stewardship, advocacy, partnerships and education. The mission of the Yampa River Awareness Project is to educate the public about the Yampa River, its special attributes, and current water projects and proposals for this river and its surrounding area. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to the Yampa River Awareness Project 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.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Gear up in the OARStore where 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth
Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear
Explore gear made and tested for water-lovers
Suggested Reading List
Watch our “How to Pack for a River Trip” video
OARS practices Leave No Trace outdoor ethics
Additional Vernal, UT Travel Planner and Lodging Information
Additional information on Dinosaur National Monument
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 do 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/person
179 – 90 days prior to your trip $100/person
89 – 60 days prior to your trip $200/person
59 days or less prior to your trip Full Fare
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 cancelled 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 cancelled 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 the spaces on this trip that we’re now holding for you, or in the event you need to be evacuated during the trip due to an unforeseen illness or injury, we strongly encourage our guests to purchase an optional travel protection plan. A travel protection plan may help reimburse the cost of your pre-paid, non-refundable payments in the event you are prevented from taking your trip for a covered reason. Trip participants must understand that in the event of an 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.
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 passengers 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.