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River Rafting Is at Its Best In Late Summer in Utah, Says Western River Expeditions

Story by Western River Expeditions


While some adventure-seekers may prefer the springtime when runoff is at its peak, most river runners will agree that rafting in southern Utah is at its best come late summer. Here the Colorado and Green Rivers and their significant tributaries ripple and roll into early fall, promising more moderate whitewater and scenic floats combined with off-river wilderness adventure. 

The guides and crew of Western River Expeditions, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, put their heads together and came up with five solid reasons why the late summer season is prime for mixing up vacation days with river currents. Company CMO Brandon Lake, shares their thoughts. 

  1. Bigger beaches - As water levels begin to drop, big, sandy beaches start to appear along the river's edge, making for wonderful campsites and ideal lunch stops, perfect for a game of volleyball or horseshoes.
  2. Warmer water temperatures - As the river slows, it has more time to warm in the intense rays of the sun, offering very comfortable temperatures for floating and swimming.
  3. Inflatable kayaks - If you like to try paddling your own boat, this is the perfect time of year to do it on Western’s Desolation Canyon and Southwest Sampler trips.
  4. Fewer bugs - While higher water levels can be exciting, they also tend to attract more bugs. As things dry out later in the season, the bugs dissipate.
  5. More availability – As school seems to kick back into gear earlier and earlier each year, these last weeks of summer offer more reservation availability, giving you time to maybe even squeeze in one more adventure before the 2019 summer and early fall come to a close. 

Lake offers this selection of trips that have still have good 2019 late-summer/fall availability: 

  • A 4 Day Cataract Canyon Rafting Trip features playful Class III-IV rapids over 100 river miles in oar and paddle-powered boats with off-river hikes to ancient Native American ruins and fascinating pictographs. Just south of Moab, UT, where the Green and Colorado rivers meet in a majestic setting called "The Confluence," Cataract Canyon begins. Bolstered by the Green River, the Colorado River doubles its force, and carves a deep 100-mile-long chasm through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Guests experience a fly-over through the park on the return to Moab, after camping under the stars. The 2019 per person rate is from $1,570. The minimum age is 10. 
  • A 5 Day Desolation Canyon itinerary brings guests into a remote wilderness where no roads or towns exist. This canyon was carved over millennia by the 730-mile Green River that is spawned by glacial melts on the Continental Divide up north in Wyoming. On its journey south into Utah, the Green has created such an unforgettable universe that Desolation Canyon has been singled out as a National Register of Historic Places. The river promises thrills galore while rafting 88 river miles over 60 fun-filled Class II and III rapids. Guests may choose to paddle two-person inflatable kayaks or sit back and enjoy the scenery in an oar-powered raft manned by an experienced guide. The fun begins with a scenic flight from Moab to the top of a dramatic desert plateau. Rates are from $1,690. The minimum age is 5. 
  • A 4 Day Southwest Sampler Vacation explores the red rock vacation playground of Moab, mixing up rafting, sunset Hummer Safaris and hiking in Arches National Park. Guests can choose oar or paddle boats or duckies while rafting 20 river miles over Class I-III rapids on the Colorado River. One night is spent camping under the stars and the other two at the new Marriott SpringHill Suites in Moab. Rates are from $690. The minimum age is 5.  
  • A 4 Day Westwater Multisport Vacation delivers the thrill of Class III-IV rapids in oar and paddle boats over 26 river miles, with different adventures daily and the comforts of home at Red Cliffs Lodge at night. Westwater Canyon is legendary. National Geographic named this experience “The West’s Best Short Whitewater Trip.” Hummer safaris and optional horseback riding offer scenes and vistas straight out of favorite Western movies. Rates are from $699. The minimum age is 12. 

About Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center ( 

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the "Best of State" award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for sixteen consecutive years. 

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2019 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit: