Desolation Canyon is the deepest canyon along the Green River’s 730 mile journey. Before you start to get worried about covering 200+ miles a day on your trip— Desolation Canyon is only 84 miles long.
Throughout this 84-mile journey resides a wealth of history, rapids, and beautiful wide beaches beneath ever-growing vistas. If you’re curious about how each day on our Desolation Canyon rafting trips tend to flow, check out the itinerary below!
Important Note: As the river is different every time it is run, so is each trip! Depending on water flows, the number of participants, and other circumstances Mother Nature imposes, our itineraries are just an estimate!
General Itinerary for Days on the Green River
Note the *usually* sentiment in the times listed, since river time works on its own clock! However, we do try to stick to a relative schedule as best we can.
Also, since Desolation Canyon is interspersed with calm sections, we will motor on occasion to make the miles needed each day. The shorter the trip, the more motoring we’ll have to do.
Breakfast – Usually between 7 am – 8 am
Lunch – Usually between 12 pm – 2 pm
Camp – Usually between 5 pm – 7 pm
Dinner – Usually between 6 pm – 8 pm
Leaving Camp – Usually between 9 am – 10 am
Meet us at our Moab Office, 10 am sharp with close to all your luggage for the trip! You’ll be packing it into a large dry bag (70 liters, about the size of a large trash bag), so the guides can take it with them to the put-in. If you’re bringing your own alcohol, this is the time to bring that as well! Unless you had us shop that for you in advance, then you’re all squared away!
Keep in mind that the 10 am meet time is not a recommendation and you cannot arrive later to pack. The guides’ drive to the put-in is 5+ hours, and they’ll need time to rig the boats in the evening. If you’re unable to make this time, ensure that you have 25 pounds or less of luggage for your trip, since that is all the plane can allow for when you’ll fly to the put-in.
For the carry-on the day of your trip, when recommend having the following items on hand:
Also, come dressed to impress on the river! Garb yourself with a hat, sunglasses, sun protection and shoes that strap to your feet!
Meet at the Canyonlands Field Airport at 7 am, and bring cash for parking. Your flight departure is approximately 7:30 AM. The flight over Desolation Canyon is about 25 minutes.
Once you’ve landed on the mesa overlooking the Green River, a guide will be there to hike with you down to the boat launch for 1.5 miles. There you’ll meet the rest of your guides, have a quick safety talk, and then hop in the boats to head out on your adventure.
The first stretch of Desolation Canyon is very calm, and we often motor a few miles before finding a nice wide beach for lunch. Camp for the evening will also be a on beautiful beach, where you’ll enjoy another great meal prepared by your guides, and time to unwind however you please as the stars come out.
Wake up to fresh coffee and breakfast on the griddle. You’ll have time to wake up with the canyon, and enjoy the serenity of camp before packing up and getting back on the river.
Rapids will start to emerge today, so jump in an inflatable kayak to get some extra splashes through the class IIs. By the afternoon we’ll visit an impressive petroglyph panel left behind by the Fremont people, perhaps making this our lunch spot if not on another great beach.
Folks on the 4 and 5 Day trip have more miles to cover, so stops may be limited on the way to camp.
More friendly rapids ripple along the drift as the canyon walls rise higher than the Grand Canyon at over 5,000 feet.
For 4 Day trippers, you’ll hit the most exciting Class III rapids on the trip, including Three Fords and Joe Hutch. Depending on time, 5 and 6 day trippers may stop for a side hike up Rock Creek or the Outlaw Trail.
Four dayers will finish the final run through Grey Canyon, where plenty of fun rapids help move the rafts along until the calm stretch to take out.
Those on a 5 Day trip can usually expect to visit the McPherson Ranch today, with time to wander through one of the most impressive homesteads in the Southwest that started in the 1890s. The bigger class III rapids, Joe Hutch and Three Fords, are usually run today or the next morning.
Six day trips will usually be somewhere between mile 40 – 56, with ample time in camp each evening to enjoy the cottonwoods and side hikes of the canyon.
Day 5 – 6
Five day trippers will run quite a few fun waves before and through Grey Canyon, before floating to the journey’s end.
Six day trippers may have shorter stints on the water the last two days, perhaps with visits to McPherson Ranch and other lesser known historical gems throughout the canyon.