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Colorado River

The Colorado River flows across the Colorado Plateau for more than 1,450 miles, beginning in the Colorado Rockies and winding through southeastern Utah and western Arizona until it reaches the Gulf of California in northwest Mexico. This powerful river is a true force of nature, carving majestic canyons and deep gorges to expose 300 million years of geologic history, and sustaining wildlife and ancient, pioneer, and modern cultures.

The Colorado River is famous for its world-class big water, and exhilaration takes on a whole new meaning at the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers at the southern end of Canyonlands National Park. Here, the river’s force doubles to create some of the most powerful white water rapids in the country. Fifteen miles of back-to-back Class III-IV rapids pound through Cataract Canyon, a 46-mile long, deeply carved gorge with 2,000-foot high red sandstone walls inside Canyonlands National Park. Yet white water isn’t the only highlight of this adventure, as the breathtaking scenery and unrivaled ancient Native American ruins are equally enthralling.

White water rafting trips through Cataract Canyon typically launch near Moab, where calmer waters are appropriate for all skill levels and even families, and end about 100 miles downriver at the confluence of the Dirty Devil River near Hite Marina on Lake Powell. Whitewater rafting season on the Colorado River typically peaks in May and June, although the unregulated water levels vary depending on spring runoff. Expect high temperatures during the peak season, perfect for a white water adventure.