Desolation Canyon Rafting
Trip Planning & Itinerary
Desolation Canyon Itinerary
DAY PRIOR TO YOUR TRIP:
Verify you have all that is suggested on the packing list and that your flight or shuttle arrangements have been made. If in Moab, check into our office (745 Kane Creek Blvd, Moab, UT 84532) at 11 AM for a pre-trip organizational meeting. If flying, be sure all of your gear is packed into a bag weighing no more than 25 pounds.
Enjoy your prearranged scenic flight from Moab to our put-in location at Sand Wash. If driving, we will meet you at Sand Wash at 9:30 AM. Wear hiking shoes or tennis shoes for the 1.5-mile hike down into the canyon where our boats are already rigged and waiting. There can be lots of mosquitoes, so don’t forget your bug repellent. To escape the mosquitoes, we will most likely provide a thorough safety orientation on this flat water section. We frequently have a motor assist as well on this calm, flat section of the Green, enabling you time to relax, and to get acquainted with your guides and companion adventurers! Our picnic lunch is on one of the many sandy beaches and can be mid-afternoon, so be sure to pack some granola bars or snacks to hold over the kids. We recommend a fanny pack to keep these essentials nearby. After 4-5 hours on the river, including our lunch, we will stop for the evening on another fantastic sandy beach for camp. While your guides tie down the boats, set up camp (kitchen, camp chairs, groover- the portable toilet), we welcome your help in setting up your bedroom (tent) and getting yourself settled. Camp allows plenty of time to relax, explore hikes, play on the beach, soak in some rays, beach games, read a book or nap.
DAY TWO ON…
Wake to the smell of brewing coffee and a crackling fire. The early bird catches the worm as the sunrise can be the most breathtaking part of the day with vibrant, Instagram-worthy hues. Fill yourself on a delicious guide-prepared breakfast, and as they clean up and pack up the kitchen. Your help packing up your gear and tent will be appreciated. Your guides will rig the boats and secure gear to the boat. Then, it is time to launch on the river for another day of adventure and memories to last a lifetime! On the river, your upcoming days in this deep canyon (in sections deeper than the Grand Canyon) bring numerous thrilling rapids, 40 million years of history, archeology, geology, petroglyphs, outlaw’s caverns, Butch Cassidy’s abandoned hideout, and ancient Native American ruins. The rapids increase in intensity and excitement as we continue through this magnificent, memory-filled canyon until the final day when we prepare to say goodbye to our new friends, cement in our minds this magnificent scenery and prepare to adjust back to the hustle and bustle of life. At Swasey’s boat ramp, we will shuttle back to Moab, Utah… where you will want to explore Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park!
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!
Desolation Canyon Rapids & Water Levels
Have you heard raft guides and river folks throw around the term ‘CFS’ but aren’t sure what that means? So what is CFS? CFS stands for cubic feet per second which is a unit of measurement referring to the volume and speed of water flow. So basically, if a river has a high CFS that means the water is flowing faster resulting in larger rapids. With this said, CFS is very important to be aware of as different levels will give you different experiences on the water. Cataract Canyon considered having high water when the CFS is 20,000 and above and low water is around 4000 CFS. If the river is low, your rafting trip might be more mellow and have less intense waves. Gauges are installed on rivers in order to measure the CFS and that information can be found on city water data sites. Inflatable kayaks are not used for high water flows as a safety precaution.
Peak flows occur in the late spring and early summer. Low flows occur in late summer and early fall. Plan your trip accordingly.
If your Desolation trip occurs during a period of high flow, you can expect multiple class II & III rapids with class III mixed in. There where be plenty of whitewater! If your trip is during a period of low flow, you can expect class I & II rapids. For trips taking place with medium flow rate, expect a mix of class I & III rapids.