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One Day Rafting in Moab: Westwater vs. Castle Valley

Nathan Van Buren

Trying to decide if you should spend your day rafting on the white water thrills of Westwater Canyon or a bit milder experience through Castle Valley? This article will help you decide!

Westwater Canyon Rafting Guide Pov 1

If you’re looking to get your adrenaline flowing, Westwater Canyon is the place to be.

Westwater Canyon is known as one of the best white water rafting day trips in the west. With 17 miles of river and over 10+ rapids, this experience is for those who are seeking adventure with high adrenaline. Starting the day at the Moab Adventure Center, we take a bus up to the put-in, at the Westwater Ranger Station. The morning starts off with a smooth float, taking in the views, letting the hotel coffee settle, and maybe even spot a bald eagle. As the anticipation creeps in, we hit some smaller rapids, guides sometimes call this section the “warm up”. After being on the river for most of the morning we stop for a lunch break above the main stretch of rapids. This is where the adrenaline starts pouring in. The guides prepare the boats by strapping everything down and administering helmets. The much-needed safety speech silences the crowd, raising the thought of “did I sign up for the right rafting trip?”. Before you know it we’re dropping into Little Dolores also known as “Little D”. This is where the fun begins. From the formation of the canyon and the swift current, the rapids come one after another. The technical rapids of the day have names like Funnel Falls, Sock-It-To-Me, and the notorious Skull Rapid. Skull Rapid is known to all boaters that have traveled down Westwater Canyon, whether good or bad, it always makes a rafter’s stomach turn. During Skull Rapid, your guide might shout out the names of features like the “rock of shock” or the “room of doom”. All of these geological features in Skull Rapid make this section sometimes unforgiving. This day trip consists of fear, joy, adrenaline, and exciting white water rafting. If you’re looking to get your adrenaline flowing, Westwater Canyon is the place to be.

Westwater Canyon Rafting Cooley

Castle Valley is an Iconic Splashy and Scenic Delight

Don’t worry if Westwater seems like a little too much because Moab has an experience for everyone. If you aren’t looking for an adrenaline packed day, but still want to hit the water and go river rafting, we offer day trips just right outside of Moab on the stretch called the “Moab Daily”. With more flexibility compared to our Westwater trip there's an AM section, Mid-day section, and a full day trip that’s offered. This section of the Colorado River is a great place to get outside and enjoy the scenic float with some splashy rapids. With views of the La Sal Mountain range, Castle Valley, and Fisher Towers this section of the Colorado River is straight out of a movie. For those who choose the PM or Full day trip, get to stop at Red Cliffs Lodge for a BBQ lunch including hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, a wide variety of daily specials, a salad bar, and drinks to purchase. After lunch, you hop back on the water and hit the famous “White’s Rapid”, which, in higher water, causes some boaters trouble. Following a long day on the river, the trip ends at Take Out Beach where we shuttle you back to the Moab Adventure Center. With time left in the day to go catch a Hummer tour or watch the sunset at Arches National Park, this trip is perfect for getting the most out of your day.

Moab Rafting Am 27
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Nathan Van Buren
I'm currently a senior at the University of Utah, majoring in Outdoor Recreation. I'll be coming up on four years being a river guide for Western River Expeditions. Read more from this author