The Most Underrated 1-day Rafting Trip in the U.S.
By Cari Morgan1 Min. Read
5 Reasons Not to Miss a Split Mountain Rafting Trip in Utah
You can find fun and sporty whitewater rafting day trips across the U.S. that will satisfy your adventurous spirit. But when it comes to the whole package—epic scenery, amazing wildlife, fascinating human and geologic history, and of course, fun whitewater—Split Mountain rafting trips in Utah have it all. Yet, this 9-mile stretch of the Green River within Dinosaur National Monument is often an overlooked whitewater adventure (even by Vernal locals!). If you’re planning a Utah vacation, here are just a few reasons this fun one-day rafting trip should be on your radar.
1) Backdoor access to a national park.
Dinosaur National Monument is more than 210,000 acres, yet most visitors make it no further than the famous dinosaur quarry. If you only have a day, there is no better way to fully immerse yourself in the billion-year history of the landscape than by floating through Split Mountain Canyon. The Green River corridor is a geologic and human time capsule filled with fascinating rock formations, ancient fossils, Native American petroglyphs and even secret spots where Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch allegedly hid out.
2) It’s an uncrowded gem.
Split Mountain Canyon is the grand finale to the legendary Gates of Lodore multi-day rafting trip, yet you won’t see many people on this beautiful daily stretch of the Green River. Only two outfitters are authorized to run 1-day Split Mountain rafting trips, and since you need a permit to run it (even private boaters), it doesn’t have a rowdie day-tripper and weekend scene like you’ll find on some local waterways across the country. The only company you’ll likely have is the moose, bighorn sheep and myriad bird life staring at you from shore.
3) 2,000-foot canyon walls.
The warped, twisted and colorful Morgan Formation that greets paddlers at the entrance to Split Mountain Canyon is just a small taste of the spectacular views you’ll encounter on this super-scenic rafting trip. As you float further downstream and the river gradient drops quickly (it’s the steepest section of the Green River), soaring rock walls layered in bright reds, oranges and deep yellows tower more than 2,000-feet-high offering idyllic canyon scenery.
4) Fun in the sun at its best.
Imagine that “woo-hoo!” feeling you get when you’re riding a monster wave in the ocean. That’s the kind of big-wave whitewater action that paddlers can expect on this rafting trip. Split Mountain serves up several, memorable Class III rapids like Moonshine, SOB and Schoolboy, plus many other fun riffles that add a splash of excitement to the day no matter your experience level. Add a few mellow stretches for swimming, rock jumping at Gorilla Rock and beach games at lunch, and is there any other place you’d rather be on a hot summer day in Dinosaurland?
5) A true wilderness river experience.
Many of the country’s whitewater day trips are easily accessible to paddlers, often flowing alongside roadways, railroad tracks and power lines, or even riverside neighborhoods. Split Mountain is as wild as they come though and offers a wilderness river experience on a remote stretch of river canyon. It’s a place where you can unplug with family and friends for a day and feel like you’re on a true adventure in the middle of nowhere.