Home Adventure Still Time to Have the Best Summer Ever Rafting Cataract Canyon

Still Time to Have the Best Summer Ever Rafting Cataract Canyon

Western River Expeditions’ rafting adventures on iconic rivers in the West have been in greater demand than ever this summer.
But as an exceptional rafting season begins to wind down, the good news is that there is still some availability in August and September for enjoying the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon in the heart of Canyonlands National Park. 

Canyon photo

Although Cataract Canyon may not have the name recognition of the Grand Canyon, it’s a favorite of Western River’s guides. Kam Wixon, Marketing Director for Western River Expeditions, recently hosted a Q&A with his guides. Here’s what they’re telling him.
What makes a Cataract Canyon rafting trip so special?

Shadrach: It’s the element of surprise. After hours of what feels like floating down the river, suddenly we’re hit with back-to-back whitewater and seemingly relentless rapids.

Kelly: Here we can ride through really big white water, an experience that’s hard to find anywhere else. 

How big is the whitewater in Cataract Canyon?

Shadrack: There’s nowhere else in North America that can rival Cataract Canyon for the size of its waves in the spring. Later in the summer, it’s not as intimidating, but it’s still a fun ride. 

If the volume of the waves changes from spring to fall, does this make a difference in the kinds of rafts used?

Shadrack: We use a bigger boat during the May-June spring runoff. Western’s patented J-rig, a 37′ x 18′ boat with a 30-horsepower motor, allows us to drive big water, and guests who are seated down front can be comfortable.  Really this is the most comfortable boat in the canyon.

Kelly: When the water is lower, we use oar boats and paddle boats instead of larger J-rigs.

Haley: When you have six to 10 people all working in a paddle boat and come into the rapids, you learn teamwork real fast.

Jeff: In a paddle boat we feel every single wave. It’s like a roller coaster ride. Doesn’t matter if you’re 80 or 10, everyone loves the sheer fun of being part of a team. 

White water rafting

You also explore the landscapes around the river. What is your favorite hike?

Megan: On one big hike that we call the loop hike, we leave the rafts and begin a climb off the river to a point where we can see both sides of the canyon and the river looping through it. We can see where we’ve come from and where we’re going next. This is one of my favorite hikes in Cataract Canyon. 

What makes Cataract Canyon unique among river trips?

Jeff: Some river rafting trips offer the biggest, most memorable experiences. Cataract Canyon is the kind of big experience that can make you feel like an early explorer, like John Wesley Powell, like you’re the first people on this river. And you and your family and crew get to experience this all together. Over four days, it just happens. People bond. They learn to care for each other. The river, the canyon, the night sky all play their part in helping people step outside of their comfort zones and actually change.

Shadrach: You can choose your level of adventure by the season. But it’s the being here and hanging out together that is also part of the excitement. 

Canyon and water photos

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2022-23 catalog, visit the website at: http://www.westernriver.com/.