How to Choose the Right Multi-Day Rafting Trip
By Kim Cassels • February 1, 2023
How to Choose a Multi-Day Rafting Trip
Shopping around for a multi-day rafting trip but not quite sure where to start? We know that feeling all too well! Mild to Wild offers overnight river trips for 7 different rivers spread across Colorado, Utah and Arizona. What can we say, we love running rivers and we love having options!
One thing that will always stay the same with any multi-day rafting trip you take with Mild to Wild is a fully catered camping experience with highly professional guides. On any trip with us, you’ll enjoy freshly prepared meals, a comfortable camping set up, and great company with amazing guides.
Read on to get a better idea of which multi-day rafting trip is right for you!
And to preface, here are all the Multi-Day Rafting Trips that Mild to Wild runs:
Cataract Canyon (Colorado River) – Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Desolation Canyon (Green River) – Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Area, Utah
Gates of Lodore (Green River) – Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado & Utah
Yampa River – Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado & Utah
Castle Valley (Colorado River) – Moab, Utah
Salt River – Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona
Upper Animas River – Weminuche Wilderness, Southwest Colorado
1. How old is the youngest member of your squad?
First things first! Are you tall enough to ride the ride? Each river presents its own unique flare of whitewater, which is the main factor for our age limits for each trip. To preface however, all participants must be at least 5 years old and 50 pounds to hop in the boat with us on an overnight trip, we want them to fit into their PFD after all!
Age 5 – 6: Desolation Canyon and Castle Valley
Age 7: Yampa River (low water), Gates of Lodore (low water)
Age 8: Salt River (low water)
Age 10: Cataract Canyon (low water)
Age 12: Salt River (high water) Yampa River (high water), Gates of Lodore (high water)
Age 14: Cataract Canyon (high water)
2. How much time do you have?
Next things next— What’s your time frame? Some of our rivers are so remote that there’s only one put-in and take-out for the entire stretch of wilderness we’ll row through. Keep in mind, some trips can be done in a shorter amount of time when we have motor assist, this will just result in longer days on the boat versus in camp. If you’re looking to do a mix of activities while you’re on a multi-day rafting trip, always go with the longer options.
2 Days: Castle Valley, Cataract Canyon, Upper Animas, Salt River
3 Days: Castle Valley, Cataract Canyon, Upper Animas, Salt River, Gates of Lodore
4 Days: Cataract Canyon, Gates of Lodore, Yampa River, Salt River, Desolation Canyon
5 Days: Cataract Canyon, Yampa River, Desolation Canyon
6 Days: Cataract Canyon, Desolation Canyon
3. When do you want to go?
Not all rivers run all season long, unless it’s the Colorado! Free flowing tributaries like the Upper Salt River and the Yampa run rampant with fresh runoff, but then quickly trickle off before spring is over. And as a rule of thumb for almost every river, the high water season (when the rapids are at their biggest) is usually from late May to mid-June.
March – April: Castle Valley, Cataract Canyon, Salt River
May – June (high water season): All but the Salt River
July – August: All but the Yampa and Salt River
September – October: Desolation Canyon, Castle Valley, Cataract Canyon
4. Do you want to kayak or SUP?
Most rivers allow for stretches to paddle your own craft. If you’re looking to be the captain of your own destiny, we offer inflatable kayaks on a few of our trips where guests are welcome to bring their own standup paddle boards as well. If you want to spend a lot of time in a kayak or on your SUP, rivers with lower class rapids will allow for that like Castle Valley and Desolation Canyon.
Multi-Day rafting trips where you can always kayak and/or SUP:
Gates of Lodore
5. Do you want high adventure and big rapids on your trip?
Mild to Wild uses the universal I-V rating system for rapids: I essentially being moving water, a class III being a big splash, and a V being a boat encompassing wave. The higher the ages in your group the higher the class of rapids you can take on together.
Class III – V Rapids: Cataract Canyon, Upper Animas
Class III – IV Rapids: Salt River, Gates of Lodore, Yampa River
Class III: Desolation Canyon
6. And how much whitewater do you want?
While some rivers have huge whitewater, not all of them will have rapids throughout the entire trip. Like Cataract Canyon, which hosts the biggest rapids on the Colorado River, but they all take place within a 15 mile stretch of the 96 mile journey.
Most: Upper Animas – Nonstop Class III and IV carnage.
Second Most: Desolation Canyon – Over 60 Class II and III rapid sections
Third Mostest: Gates of Lodore – This section is shorter than other rivers (45 miles), which makes the ratio of rapids much higher than other trips.
Quick Top Two’s
What Multi-Day Rafting Trips have the most hiking?
(If you want to get a good amount of hiking during any multi-day rafting trip, we recommend at least 4 days.)
What Multi-Day Rafting Trips have the most time in camp?
(The shorter the miles we have to cover each day, the more time you’ll have in camp! This goes for trips like Desolation and Cataract Canyon as well, but Lodore and Yampa trips have shorter stretches in general.)
What Multi-Day Rafting Trips have the most Historical Sites?
All western river canyons have precious archaeological treasures in them, but Desolation Canyon and Cataract Canyon tend to have the highest number of Native American ruins/petroglyphs, fossils, and homesteads.
What Multi-Day Rafting Trip has the most wildlife?
In general, Southwestern rivers host big horned sheep, deer, birds of prey, snakes, lizards, otters, raccoons)
Desolation Canyon – This area is wonderful and unique for its bands of wild horses.
Yampa River – Lots of friendly, fat big horns!
What Multi-Day Rafting trips have the warmest water?
Enjoy temps around 60-70° F all summer long!
What Multi-Day Rafting trips have the most diverse scenery?
Lodore – Colorful, ever-changing cliffs, lush forests and side canyons, dramatic geologic features are strewn throughout Lodore Canyon.
Yampa – Beautiful slick rock walls, caves, and wildflower meadows is just the start on the Yampa.
What Multi-Day Rafting trips have the most shade/plants?
Dinosaur National Monument sprawls between a rare wilderness section in Colorado and Utah. It’s higher altitude and regular rainstorms provides perfect conditions for cottonwoods, ponderosas, hackberry bushes, and other alpine and desert flora to flourish.
What Multi-Day Rafting trips can you raft in the fall?
Cataract Canyon runs all the way into October!
What Multi-Day Rafting trips have the most solitude?
Still need some insight?
We understand it can be a little overwhelming trying to choose the right multi-day rafting trip, especially if it’s your first time down any of these awesome rivers! So please don’t hesitate to drop a question in the LiveChat (it’s all real people on the other side!) or give us a call to help you pick the perfect wilderness getaway!