I took off my watch and packed it away, I put my phone on airplane mode. I was officially on an adventure now.

Our OARS guide Dave started explaining what to expect and what our plan was for our first rafting day. I listened as I watched the Colorado River in its muddy brown glory flow swiftly by. It was the beginning of June, which meant it was that unpredictable time when the snow melt from the Rockies was at its height and could make the river swell to the top of its banks and take along any debris with it – including rafters.

Ever since I rafted the Grand Canyon, I had wanted to do it again on the unbridled part of the Colorado River, no dams controlling the flow, just Mother Nature in charge and skilled guides navigating her fury. Canyonlands National Park and Cataract Canyon was just the spot. In fact, it is the last spot really where the Colorado is free flowing.

canyonlands national park rafting

Dave wrapped up his talk, I tightened my life jacket, and hopped in a Dory to begin my day journey rafting through Canyonlands National Park and Cataract Canyon.

The Best Way to See Canyonlands NP
Where is Cataract Canyon
Cataract Canyon Rapids & the Best Time to Go
What to Expect Rafting Canyonlands and Cataract Canyon
Flat Water Section
Hiking in the Canyon
The OARS Difference
Legacy of Rafting Rivers in Dories
Variety of Boats & Rafts
OARS Rafting Guides
Leave it Better Than You Found It
Cataract Canyon Packing List
Who Should Go on This Trip

The Best Way to See Canyonlands Park

This trip traverses the heart of Canyonlands National Park. The 530 square miles of the park contain a variety of canyons, arches, spires, buttes, mesas and a myriad of other spectacular rock formations; it actually has more geological variety than the Grand Canyon. At the heart of the park is the Confluence; where the Green and Colorado rivers meet. Shortly after that, you encounter Cataract Canyon.

There are few roads that go through the park, which makes rafting the best possible way to see the entire park. The Colorado River snakes its way through the park’s 3 regions (Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze ); it’s pretty rare for visitors to get to see all of the areas of the massive, remote park. Experiencing Canyonlands via the river is a unique perspective few people get; you’ll see the deepest, hardest-to-access places in the park via a multi-day rafting trip.

Where is Cataract Canyon

It’s in Canyonlands National Park. The 46 mile long chasm begins at the confluence where the Green River and Colorado River join and doubles its force, carving a deep canyon through the heart of Canyonlands. The canyon used to be much longer, until The lower half of the canyon was submerged beneath Lake Powell due to the Glen Canyon Dam.

How do you get there?

We started out journey at the Potash put in near Moab Utah. There are really no other ways to get into Cataract Canyon other than by raft. And this is the closest put-in.

Cataract Canyon Rapids

Remember, there are no upstream dams, so the water fluctuations can be extreme depending on snow melt and rain. The 14 miles of rapids range anywhere from Class III to V depending on the flow.

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