By Steve Markle & amp; Utah.com
May 01, 2019

Raft the same hidden canyons John Wesley Powell explored 150 years ago with a much lower chance of starvation.

1869 was a busy year in the United States. The country was rebuilding after the Civil War, the golden spike finished up the transcontinental railroad, and John Wesley Powell took his fun little vacay on the uncharted Green and Colorado Rivers.

To celebrate the latter, veteran outfitter OARS is retracing Powell’s course with river trips through five of Utah’s most beautiful river canyons, and you’re invited!

Let OARS take you into the real-life Wild West, but with luxuries like gourmet cooking, comfy camping and confidence you’ll actually return. They know what they’re doing. They’ve been at it since 1969, aka the year we landed on the moon, aka the 100th anniversary of Powell’s journey. Also, they’re the only outfitter with permits to all five sections of river.


Unlike JWP, you can learn about the canyons from people who went before.

1. Flaming Gorge — Utah, USA

Brilliant red hued cliffs and crystal clear waters await on this scenic stretch of the Green River in Utah. Packed with splashy, no-stress white water, excellent swimming and trout fishing, a Flaming Gorge rafting trip is fun for the whole family.

One- to three-day trips begin at $99.

2. Gates of Lodore — Colorado, USA

The river has changed little since Powell explored it, and continues to offer excellent rafting and scenery! Launch your own expedition into Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado. This laid-back adventure through a maze of scarlet slot canyons not only offers scenery that rivals Grand Canyon, but also boasts fun whitewater, gorgeous side hikes, fossil discoveries, and beach camping at its best.

Lodore Canyon has rapids with names like Disaster Falls, Hell's Half Mile, and Triplet Falls!

Three-, four- or five-day trips begin at $774.

3. Desolation Canyon — Utah, USA

Once you enter Desolation Canyon you are there for the next five days. From the put-in point on the river and for several miles downstream, the water is peaceful and quiet. First time visitors often find it hard to believe that this tranquil flow of water cut a river gorge that in places reaches deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Discover your own wild adventure in Desolation Canyon. Fly into a wild and remote land of towering cliffs that rival Grand Canyon, tackle 50+ exciting whitewater rapids, and relive a piece of Wild West history in this true hidden canyon that beckons modern day explorers.

Five-day trips begin at $1449.

4. Cataract Canyon — Utah, USA

Spectacular scenery, fantastic whitewater, a rafting adventure through Canyonlands National Park in warm and sunny southern Utah, carefully isolated from modern civilization is perfect adventure. The red cliff walls tower 2000 feet overhead, touching that flawless Western blue sky. Here the famous Colorado River flows freely: undammed and unpredictable.

Cataract Canyon delivers Utah's biggest and most challenging rapids. Begin your trip on the calm waters of the Colorado River going through beautiful and scenic canyons. But once you reach the confluence of the Green River and the Colorado River, you'll probably want to hang on.

Four- or six-day trips begin at $1549.

5. Grand Canyon — Arizona, USA

The Grand Canyon is the ultimate river trip and one of the most sought after travel experiences on the planet. Travel into the unknown and unplug from the outside world to take in unmatched scenery, epic hiking, legendary whitewater, and mind-boggling geology and historic sites.

Five- to 18-day trips begin at $2491.

Get excited, and then go chart your own adventure into the West’s Hidden Canyons! Do it now, because it’s not nearly as cool to say you did it on the 151st anniversary.