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, 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 into 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 (the Green and the Colorado) 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.