Colorado River Cataract Canyon
Colorado River Cataract Canyon at a Glance3
Price: $$$
River Rapid Class: III-V
Trip in Miles: 96 miles or less
Trip Duration: 3 to 6 days
Season: April-October
Raft Types: Paddle Raft, Oar Raft
River Sections: Cataract Canyon
Nearby Towns: Moab (UT)
Gateway City: Moab (UT)
Driving Times: Grand Junction (CO): 2 hours; Salt Lake City (UT): 4 hours

"Utah's southeastern corner pinpoints the convergence of the Colorado and Green Rivers, the two architects of the region's staggering landscape. Both rivers flaunt unparalleled views of their geological handiwork--canyons and massive rock formations, drenched in deep yellows and reds, pierce the royal blue sky and dwarf the paddlers below. Along the flanking canyon walls, cliff dwellings and Anasazi petroglyphs offer evidence of the area's early human habitation.

As the waters of the two rivers unite, the less boisterous Green defers to its more adventurous twin, the Colorado. With as many as 67 Class IV+ rapids, even seasoned river rats will experience their share of paddle-pounding thrills along the Colorado. Several miles downriver from the junction of the two rivers, 12-mile-long Cataract Canyon--with some of the fiercest rapids in the West-awaits those with courage, a paddle, and a permit. Indeed, in the spring, the rapids in Cataract Canyon are bigger than those of the Grand Canyon. Those thirsting for less-extreme whitewater will still find plenty of more moderate challenges on the Colorado; the town of Potash, 49 miles north of the confluence, provides access to the river's calmer stretches as it threads alongside the dramatic landscape of Canyonlands National Park.

Paddling expeditions are launched at various points along both rivers, depending on skill level and desired length of adventure. Multi-day outings on both the Colorado and Green let you camp on sandy beachheads by night and explore hiking trails within side canyons by day. The Colorado, in keeping with its adventurous spirit, offers big whitewater and easy access to hiking, biking, and rock climbing in Canyonlands, Arches, and Moab. Most multiday trips will put in on a calmer stretch of the Colorado downstream from Moab, where you'll have time to enjoy the scenery, wildlife, and historic traces of Anasazi Indian culture before powering through the river's 26 major Class IV-V rapids. Things end a little more benignly when the river flows into Lake Powell above Glen Canyon Dam."

Published: 31 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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