Ask a River Guide: The Best of Utah’s Cataract Canyon

Longtime O.A.R.S. Guide Pete Lefebvre Shares What Makes Cataract Canyon Worth the Trip

Best camps “Brown Betty is a gigantic beach right at the first rapid. That has to be my favorite. But my other favorite is Kolb Camp. You only camp there at medium to lower flows, because at higher flows it’s underwater, but it’s right between Big Drop 2 and Big Drop 3. There is a big inscription from the Kolb Brothers when they came through there in 1911. So there’s some history there. You’re also between the two biggest rapids. You can feel the energy. It’s just a really powerful place.”

Peter Lefebvre’s first multi-day river trip was no small introduction to rafting. For three weeks, he floated the Colorado River through Desolation Canyon all the way down to Cataract Canyon. Afterward, he knew he found his first love. A few years later, in 2005, he got the chance to guide sea kayaking and rafting trips for O.A.R.S. in Jackson, Wyoming.  Now, more than a decade later, he’s back on the river that started it all—leading trips on the Colorado River. From hidden waterfalls to wild rapids, Peter reveals what makes Cataract Canyon so special…

The Colorado River wild & free

“Cataract Canyon keeps you on your toes. I’ve run it as low as 3,000 cfs and in 2011 it got up to almost 90,000 cfs. That’s one of my favorite parts—it’s wild and free. So it’s a huge range of water flows and every flow has a different feel to it. And the rapids change. It’s exciting. Cataract Canyon delivers at every level no matter what.”

Ask a River Guide: Pete Lefebvre Shares the Best of Utah’s Cataract Canyon

The “Big Drops”

“Well, the Big Drops are the most fun when you make it through upright. Ha! It’s a pretty thrilling ride having two big rapids back to back like that. It’s the build-up, the anticipation…the reason we’re there.”

Guide rituals

“Big beers below the Big Drops. Usually the trip leader is in charge of bringing along the Fosters big cans, and especially when the water is up, the guides will celebrate [in camp] with a big beer below the Big Drops.”

Best camps

“Brown Betty is a gigantic beach right at the first rapid. That has to be my favorite. But my other favorite is Kolb Camp. You only camp there at medium to lower flows, because at higher flows it’s underwater, but it’s right between Big Drop 2 and Big Drop 3. There is a big inscription from the Kolb Brothers when they came through there in 1911. So there’s some history there. You’re also between the two biggest rapids. You can feel the energy. It’s just a really powerful place.”

RIver Guide Pete Lefebvre Shares the Best of Utah’s Cataract Canyon | Indian Creek

Cataract Canyon’s magic spot

“That’s a tough one. Indian Creek might take the cake. When Indian Creek is flowing and you take guests up there and get up to the waterfall, you can see everybody’s eyes light up. It’s a magical spot.”

Brag-worthy River Grub

“Tikka Masala. We serve it with a yogurt sauce with bananas and caramelized onions. It’s delicious. A lot of people are skeptical at first, but it turns into one of their favorite meals.”

River Guide Pete Lefebvre Shares the Best of Utah’s Cataract Canyon

Music moments

“Playing guitar down in the Grotto in Meander Canyon—that usually blows people’s doors off. It’s a great sound in a great place.”

Moab hang-outs

“One of my favorite places is Sabaku Sushi. And the owners’ of that restaurant just opened a new place called 98 Center…just great simple food, cocktails and a fun atmosphere to hang out.”

 

A version of this article first appeared in the 2017 Adventures Catalog. Request your free copy here.

 

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