|MEETING PLACE:||OARS Warehouse, 2540 S HWY 191 Moab, Utah|
|MEETING TIME:||7:30 AM|
|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 5:00 PM-6:00 PM|
|RIVER RATING:||Class III-IV, depending on water levels|
|RIVER MILES:||17 river miles with 11 named rapids|
|PUT-IN:||Westwater Ranger Station|
|TAKE OUT:||Cisco Landing|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 12 years (16 at high water levels)|
|TRIP LENGTH:||1 Day|
|BOAT OPTIONS:||Oar raft, paddle raft|
Named “The West’s Best Short Whitewater Trip” by National Geographic, a Westwater Canyon rafting trip should not be missed. This canyon was formed by a section of the Colorado River slicing through the beautiful red, black, and gold landscape of the remote Utah wilderness. As the canyon walls narrow, the rapids become closer together and more exciting; there are numerous Class III and IV rapids, including the infamous Skull Rapid.
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:
Upon everyone’s arrival at the OARS Warehouse, we’ll enjoy the dramatic desert scenery unfolding around us on the scenic drive to the put-in at the Westwater Ranger Station. Upon arrival at the boat ramp, our guides will present a safety talk and orientation to our boats and gear. Our trip begins with calm waters allowing us to take in the stunning canyon walls and desert scenery. A few Class II rapids will give us a taste of what lies just downstream. Westwater Canyon is a perfect blend of calm waters, splashy riffles and exciting Class III-IV rapids through a black, gold and red river gorge.
We’ll stop for lunch on a warm sand-covered beach. Our guides will create a delicious riverside meal while we enjoy the beauty of the canyon. Whatever they prepare, it will always be fresh and filling to energize us for the rapids just ahead. While they prepare the meal, you can swim in the calm beach waters or lounge in the sun.
After lunch we are off to run Westwater’s famous rapids: Little Dolores Rapid, Funnel Falls, Skull Rapid and Sock-It-To-Me! After the excitement of the rapids, we still get to look forward to more of the deep canyon walls and swift currents of Westwater Canyon.
In the afternoon we will arrive at Cisco Landing where our Colorado River adventure ends. The drive back to Moab will allow time for peaceful reflection. Once back in Moab, we will say our goodbyes to our new friends and our guides but we will never forget the experience we have shared.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide services
- Delicious picnic lunch and snacks
- High quality rafts and related river equipment including small dry bag, paddle, helmet and personal flotation device
- Transfers from Moab to the river and back
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Moab
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
- Items of a personal nature (see suggested packing list)
Meeting Place & Time
The day of your trip we will meet at 7:30 AM at the OARS Warehouse. It’s best to arrive ready for the river – we’ll board our bus and depart for the drive to the Westwater Ranger Station. Parking is available at our warehouse.
Getting to Moab
- From Grand Junction, Colorado take I-70 West to US 191 or take scenic route 128, which follows the Colorado River and offers spectacular views.
- From Salt Lake City, Utah take I-15 south to the Price/US 6 exit. Then take US 6 to I-70 East, to US 191 South.
Parking a Car
If you’re arriving by car, parking is available at the OARS Warehouse, while on the river.
OARS cannot accept responsibility for any loss or damage to vehicles or their contents.
- Commercial flights are available into Salt Lake City and Moab, Utah, or Grand Junction, Colorado.
- Red Tail Aviation 800-842-9251 offers charter flights
- 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.
- Canyonlands Shuttle – Shuttles from Moab to anywhere within a 500 mile radius. Call (435)210-4757 or visit their website to make a reservation.
- Moab Airport Hopper – For pickup times on your day of travel, please call (435)522-9154
- Private reservation based shuttle services from the Moab, and Grand Junction airports can be arranged through Redrock Express. Please contact them directly on 1-800-259-2869, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mileage and Driving Times To Moab, UT
|Salt Lake City||234 miles (5 hours)|
|From Grand Junction, CO||113 miles (2 hours)|
|From Denver, CO||355 miles (6 hours)|
|From Durango, CO||158 miles (3 hours)|
|From Bluff, UT||100 miles (2 hours)|
|From Vernal, UT||219 miles (5 hours)|
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations (not included in your trip cost)
We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging.
The Colorado River can exhibit extreme variations in water level at different times of year, providing a whitewater experience for everyone. This portion of the river boasts narrow rapids through steep canyon walls interspersed with wide calm stretches. The remote beauty of the canyon combined with the consistent riffles and Class IV rapids make this a perfect river stretch for travelers of nearly all ability levels.
The number and variety of boats on an OARS trip may 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—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 gives directions and steers and from the rear. Paddling together is essential to finding the right run, and teamwork begets success. A thrilling way to brave the rapids! Helmets required. Ask an Adventure Consultant about this option, as it is not available on every trip.
Average Air and Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F||Air (Night) °F||Water °F|
Water Levels & Temperature
The flow of the Colorado River through Westwater 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 Westwater 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.
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.
- 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
CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT
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.
We recommend starting with bathing suit/swim trunks and a lightweight synthetic shirt, adding layers of synthetic or merino wool long underwear and warmer clothes as needed.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. 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
Mosquitoes can be bothersome at times in certain areas on the Green, particularly after high water drops. Though this happens at different times every year, it is typically in June to mid-July. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
What To Bring
Click on this link for helpful information about packing for your trip: https://www.oars.com/video/wear-bring-one-day-rafting-trip-oars/
- Water bottle with a carabiner to attach it to the boat
- Sunscreen & lip protection: waterproof and SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
- Shade hat/visor which is flexible enough to fit under your helmet
- Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap
- Bathing suit
- Shorts (long board shorts preferable for sun protection) and quick drying top
- River/tennis shoes or river sandals with an ankle strap
- Dry clothes and shoes to change into after your trip
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore and receive FREE SHIPPING in the U.S. + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR CHANGING WEATHER! Especially during the months of May and early June, Utah can experience extreme changes in weather.
Wearing cotton items on a river trip is only appropriate when the weather is hot. Cotton does not dry, and wet cotton will chill your body temperature.
Please let us know if you have any medical issues or dietary needs that we’ll need to consider in planning your trip.
We provide a small waterproof bag on each raft (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, you may wish to place your camera in a zip-lock plastic bag or waterproof casing for additional protection. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are also a fun option.
Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms online and submit them no later than 30 days prior to your trip.
We advise that you leave your valuables at home or in your private vehicle and take on the river only what’s absolutely necessary.
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 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.
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.
Get free shipping on OARS gear + give back! 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
Watch our “What to Wear and Bring on a One-Day Trip” video
OARS practices Leave No Trace outdoor ethics
Terms & Conditions
Full payment is required at the time of booking. Payments may be made by check, money order or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Receipt of the payment signifies acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency. Cancelling your trip will incur cancellation fees because holding spots for you means we are likely turning others away who would like to book the trip.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your payment is fully refundable for 48 hours after making a reservation when you reserve a trip 7 days or more prior to departure.
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. We do not make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including weather, wildfire, terrorism, civil unrest or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early.
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|30 or more days prior to your trip||$15/person|
|29 to 7 days prior||Payment can be transferred to another trip for a fee of $30/person within the same year or $50/person to the following year. No refund.|
|6 days or less prior||50% of the trip cost can be credited to another trip (within the same year)|
|Late arrivals or “no shows”||No refund or credit|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation e-mail for details.
If we are within 30 days of your trip departure, you may transfer from one trip to another, within the same season, for a fee of $25/person up until 7 days prior to departure. You may choose to make a one-time transfer of your payments to a credit account for use during the following season, which incurs a $50/person fee from 29 days prior up until 7 days prior to departure. Transfers made after this time will be treated as cancellations.
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.
We recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings and your vacation through the purchase of a comprehensive travel protection plan. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip (covered reasons for cancellation vary by policy and some reasons may not qualify for reimbursement). Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. For information about comprehensive travel protection plans visit https://www.roamright.com
Acknowledgement of Risk
Everyone is required to sign a standard Acknowledgement of Risk form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the trip. However, 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, 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 well being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 6 guests), 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. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers 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.