Green River – One of the longest rivers in the state, The Green offers several great sections that will satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie. One of the most scenic stretches is the Gates of Ladore. It presents some solid class III-IV paddling and the majestic landscape will leave you spellbound. Ladore can be quite technical and rocky at lower flows (800-1200 CFS), as Major Powell and his crew found out when they tried to navigate this portion of the river too early in the year. Combine this section with Spilt Mountain Gorge for a tremendous multi-day trip that will live on in your memory forever.
If you want to hit up The Green’s southern reaches, try Desolation Canyon. This 84-mile desert-esque stretch begins with flat water, but then it cranks up and delivers some great rapids for the majority of the float. The camping along Deso is great, and the sandy beach sites are easy on the boats and the feet. Due to the increasing popularity of these sections, permits are required. For Ladore and Split Mountain permits, contact Dinosaur National Monument at 970-374-2468. Permits for Deso can be obtained through the BLM office at 435-636-3622. The issuance of permits ensures the highest quality experience by limiting the traffic on the river and at campsites. A little tip for you novices, enter in for permits with a few of your buddies to increase your odds of getting chosen.
Colorado River – Cataract Canyon is probably the most notable stretch of whitewater in the state, possibly the West, and it makes for an epic multi-day trip. Beginning just outside of Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Cat will test your boating skills as it delivers one of the most visceral experiences of your life. As you and your buddies deftly maneuver through Big Drops One, Two and Three, you’ll understand the full force of the river. This five- to six-day journey will leave you with unforgettable memories. Permits for this trip are easy to obtain; the best way to secure one is to call Canyonlands National Park at 435-259-4351.
If you’re not quite ready for Cat, check out Westwater Canyon. Intermediate and advanced paddlers will enjoy this scenic stretch of river as they take in the breathtaking strata of the canyon and the rippling black water below. Watch out for Skull Rapid on your way down, as it has a history of eating boats, and whole crews, alive. Kayakers should have plenty of raft support for this journey, which should be done in two days to fully enjoy it. Permits for Westwater are notoriously hard to acquire for June–August. Contact the BLM at 435-259-7012 two months prior to your expected launch date to ensure you get on the river.
Snake River – Jackson Hole is one of the few authentic western towns left in the nation, and its whitewater is as wild as the ladies and gentleman that frequent the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Floating through the majestic Snake River Canyon makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The water is pure, clear, deep and frigid. The raging rapids will grip your soul, and seeing your best friend’s face fill with genuine fear is something you’ll never forget. Keep an eye out for surfers (yes, with boards) at Lunch Counter, but don’t stare too long or you’ll end up a bit soggy. Although this is only a short section, the full Wyoming experience is worth the trip. No permit required.
Salmon River – The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a journey into the Idahoan wilderness that requires much preparation and dedication. For the low price of six dollars, you and your group can enter the lottery for a permit. Believe me, winning this lottery is more sought after than the Powerball in some circles.
These trips present a variety of logistical challenges that you may want to forego for your first river visit. If that’s the case, check out some of the local guide companies that offer single and multi-day trips to a variety of exciting locations. The guide services are usually all-inclusive, which makes planning easier. For Northern Utah, check out Adrift Adventures. In Southern Utah visit Moab Adventure Center. If you’re looking to head to Wyoming for the weekend, visit Mad River Boat Trips. Each company has years of experience showing people a great time, and you can count on coming away satisfied.