Summer is winding down, but you want one final hurrah to say goodbye to the last of the dog days. There’s no better way to cap off your epic summer of hiking, getting lost in central Utah, and staring at the stars than a multi-day whitewater rafting trip. Here are 5 rafting trips you could enjoy in your last month of summer before you go back to being a “responsible citizen” who “contributes to society”:
01. Cataract Canyon
Rafting with Sheri Griffith Expeditions, based out of Moab, means you’ve got options. This team offers trips in famous Cataract Canyon that last anywhere from 2 days to almost 2 weeks. The river winds through the heart of Canyonlands National Park, and the expedition offers plenty of beach camping, ancestral Puebloan petroglyphs and granaries, and hiking through the gorgeous sandstone. Going late in the season means the once hair-raising class III–V rapids have mellowed into smaller, adventurous swells better suited for the less-seasoned among us.
02. Westwater Canyon
Try this challenging section of the Colorado River for another top-notch rafting experience. Westwater Canyon is a perfect 2- or 3-day trip, beginning in sleepy Green River, that offers beginner-friendly class III and IV rapids. The expedition also boasts gorgeous canyon walls, unique wildlife (bald eagles and river otters, anyone?), and lovely, sandy campsites. Also, be sure to stop in at Ray’s Tavern in Green River after the trip for the best post-adventure burger a river rat could hope for.
03. Gates of Lodore -- Green River
This 4-day rafting expedition kicks off in Jensen, Utah, and follows the Green River through the heart of Dinosaur National Monument. If you’re looking for family-friendly class III rapids, hikes to waterfalls and occasional Native American rock art, these are your guides. Plus with Adrift, one child under 12 gets to raft half-price for every paying adult in your party. So no more excuses for not inviting the Larsens next door and all 7 of their children.
04. Desolation Canyon
Bill Dvorak’s tour of Desolation Canyon stretches 89 miles of the Green River and more than 60 class II and III rapids. Desolation Canyon lives up to its name, littered with abandoned homesteads, Fremont petroglyphs, and a history of outlaws like Butch Cassidy and George “Flat-Nose” Curry. Because of the mellower rapids, this trip is great for beginners and kids who still want 5–8 days to be immersed (sometimes literally) in river culture.
05. Split Mountain
Want to try out the rapids but you burned up all your vacation days when you got lost in the San Rafael Swell? Check out the one day trip with O.A.R.S.. Though the trip is less than 24-hours, you’ll still be privy to fabulous petroglyphs, a tasty guide-provided lunch on a sandy beach, and enough class III rapids to make the entire accounting department jealous they didn’t go. The trip starts in the Dinosaur National Monument in Vernal and includes a shuttle back to your car.