Rafting the entirety of Cataract Canyon using oars alone takes multiple days, since the trip is roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) of flat water and rapids. Multi-day tours generally include meals and rustic camping accommodations, as well as stops to hike and explore along the way.
By using a motorized raft, it’s possible to cover that distance on a 1-day trip. Popular locations for Cataract Canyon rafting trips include Potash, Moab, Green River, and Mineral Bottom; most rafting trips take out at Lake Powell’s Hite Marina.
Things to know before you go
- If you’re bringing a camera, consider purchasing a waterproof case. It’s difficult to completely protect electronics from splashing.
- Plan to bring a pair of hiking boots. Some river trips include excursions on trails along the river.
- Protective clothing and sunscreen are essential here. Much of the canyon is in full sunlight during the day.
How to get there
Most river trips include transport from Moab, with departure from your hotel or a central meeting point. Tours generally also offer return transport from the endpoint at Hite Marina, which is 154 miles (248 kilometers) from Moab, though it’s sometimes an additional charge. Return transport options may include ground transport or a scenic flight through the desert; some operators also offer to shuttle your personal vehicle to Hite Marina from Moab.
When to get there
The water level in Cataract Canyon varies dramatically throughout the year, especially since this section of the river isn’t controlled by a dam. Generally, the higher the water, the bigger the rapids. Melting snow in May and June brings the biggest, most adventurous water. By August and September, things have calmed down, and both the air and the water are pleasantly warm.
Things to Do in Canyonlands National Park
The Colorado River is just one way to experience this spectacular desert park. One favorite activity is hiking to natural arches that form in the sandstone, often over thousands of years. Among the easiest to access is pretty Mesa Arch, in the northern part of the park that’s closest to Moab. A mesa with sweeping views of the surrounding desert, Island in the Sky is another popular area in the northern part of Canyonlands; a seasonal visitor center here is open from spring to fall.