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Cataract Canyon within Canyonlands National Park

Cataract Canyon 4 Day Rafting Adventure

River rafting through Cataract Canyon is not for the timid. The Colorado River appears benign and gentle as it silently rolls through the backyard of the Marriott hotel where you'll stay in Moab, Utah. "Look to the West" - the river passes through a gap in the cliff wall ominously dubbed "The Portal". A wilderness of stone, now known as Canyonlands National Park lies beyond - one of America's largest. John Wesley Powell, the first to explore the area by river in 1869 said it was the place where "the Gods went to quarry the mountains". Only a few modes of transport can take you there. The river is still the best way to discover this vast and nearly forgotten National Park.

Your four-day exploration into this world of upside-down geography traverses the four districts of Canyonlands from Moab, Utah to Lake Powell one hundred miles downstream: the River District, the Maze District, the Needles, and Island in the Sky. For the first two days, you will be lulled into a sense that rivers carved the canyon walls slowly, silently - without tumult. Even the surprising silence of two of the West's largest rivers (Green river and Colorado river) meeting between towering canyon walls seems to confirm that even combined at twice the flow the rivers "slowly and silently" dominate their stone surroundings, carving and shaping the massive sandstone castles in the sky.

You'd be wrong; right down to the bedrock. At the head of Cataract Canyon, a silent river flow is replaced by a deafening roar. Soft sandstones are replaced by stubborn bedrock. The bottom drops out here, but not there, forming rapids known as "The Big Drops". The rapids of Cataract Canyon are the largest rapids in North America during the spring runoff, and are no less daunting in their own way throughout the summer flows when boat sizes match the rapids' size, wave for wave.

On the return to Moab, you'll take flight in a scenic air tour over the very same geologic mayhem, viewing it all, perhaps from a perspective and understanding that perhaps you never would have without the experience you'd just come through. Back in Moab, there's still time for play, exploring Arches National Park, or trying something else you've never tried before such as canyoneering and rock climbing, a Hummer safari from the Moab Adventure Center.

Total Duration
including transfers
Minimum Age
or 10 in low flows
Rapid Class
for normal flows
on river
Canyonlands National Park

Cataract Canyon is in the heart of Canyonlands National Park - pictures of which are often mistaken for Grand Canyon. A fact not lost on the return scenic flight. Slowing down to soak it up is something you'll never regret. Hike to hidden waterfalls or unexpected vistas, and splash through rapids comparable in size to those in Grand Canyon.

Big Time Rapids

The rapids in the heart of Cataract Canyon are among the largest in North America - especially after a heavy snowpack. No matter the water levels at a particular time of year, we match the size of boats to the size of the waves so the ride is maximized - and you're guaranteed a great story to tell back home!

Camping on the Colorado

There's nothing quite like camping on the shores of the Colorado River, deep in a canyon somewhere in the Desert Southwest. Your guides will prepare lunches, dinner and breakfast on this brief 100 mile journey that you might be surprised by - where did they store all those cots, tents food and ice?

Cataract Canyon Classic Reviews

Rated 4.9 stars out of 6555 Total Reviews


John - Utah, USA
Outstanding, I'd highly recommend it and I will probably do it again. I enjoyed the pace of the 4-day trip.


Jennifer - Oregon, USA
You have a very good website with very detailed information about what to bring and what to expect. We had a fabulous trip; it really was a trip of a lifetime.


Read More Reviews

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