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View Full Version : Biggest rapids in Utah



DaveOU812
12-31-2004, 12:29 PM
Ok so river rafting I have always gotten into. I just don't know much about it. Where are the biggest rapids in Utah? I'd like to hit em. Anyone ever? How do ya go about doing that and when is the best time to go?

accadacca
01-03-2005, 01:12 PM
Summer is the best time to go and usually at the beginning of the summer. Because the water is the highest, fastest, and the most violent. On the other hand it can get nasty as it gets lower and more rocks get exposed. I have only been on the snake. I would like to hit Cataract Canyon this year. I have heard it is pretty radical.

As far as doing it, you just show up and have a guide service take you down the river. If you

rock_ski_cowboy
04-01-2005, 10:36 PM
I realize that its been a while since this thread started, but I figured I'd reply anyhow since I've done a lot of rafting (private trips) in Utah and Idaho. Now I don't know as much about Kayaking, just about rivers that can be run with a full sized raft or even better, a cataraft. Kayakers have a whole new set of options open to them. I'm pretty sure I've done all the popular runs in Utah, there aren't many, considering there are only 3 or 4 rivers that are big enough to put a raft on. The biggest rapids (we're talking volume) are without a doubt Cataract Canyon of the Colorado(in Canyonlands National Park) during spring runoff. At high flows, the rapids are bigger than the Grand Canyon which is really big. I've done the GC once and it was amazing! Colorado River rapids aren't the most difficult rapids, just big. Skull Rapid in Westwater Canyon of the Colorado definitely ranks as one of the more challenging runs depending on the water level. I've run Cataract about half a dozen times usually in August, we always avoid High Water because its a family-trip kind of thing and the rapids are still pretty good. I have run Westwater about 6 times as well and every time at least one boat has flipped in Skull. Going to do the San Juan River in two weeks and the Yampa and the Middle Fork of the Salmon in June. San Juan is a family trip, hardly any rapids, but some of the best scenerey and beautiful side canyons in the state. Yampa's a fun one on the CO/UT border, Middle Fork is a fast, wild one up in Idaho!

Unless you know some one with lots of gear and experience, better get a guide or do some easy trips like Desolation and San Juan.

Ben

These pictures are of Cataract at 70000 cfs (highest flow in the 90's i think). We usually run it about 7000-10000 cfs and its exciting but not killer.

accadacca
04-02-2005, 09:43 AM
Hey Rock thanks for the pictures and info. Cool!

I would really like to hit Cataract this year. We should get a group to go. Anyone interested?

rock_ski_cowboy
05-26-2005, 12:49 PM
Cataract is running at 60000 CFS right now. Better get on a trip if you want to see the biggest and baddest rapids of the decade.

Sombeech
05-26-2005, 01:01 PM
I'd love to go. The summer is filling up pretty fast for me though. Since I'm a beginner, I should go in the fall.

Wasatch Rebel
04-21-2006, 06:26 AM
This is a quote from Lori Lee's Wild Weekends in Utah: "Cataract Canyon requires technical white-water experience, particularly if you're doing an unguided trip instead of booking a commercial guide service."

Does this mean that a rank beginner can't go through Cataract? While I've been on a few trips on the Snake, I wouldn't exactly say I have "technical white-water experience", so is she saying the guides should have it? I'd definitely agree that I wouldn't go down any water like that without a well-seasoned guide. Anyway I'd like to do it, but it's still about 3-4 years away until my finances will allow me. Give a report when you've done it.

Oh, and another question--do you have to have a full group lined up to go, or can you sign on with a group that still has room? Anyone know?

rock_ski_cowboy
04-26-2006, 03:10 PM
This is a quote from Lori Lee's Wild Weekends in Utah: "Cataract Canyon requires technical white-water experience, particularly if you're doing an unguided trip instead of booking a commercial guide service."

Does this mean that a rank beginner can't go through Cataract? While I've been on a few trips on the Snake, I wouldn't exactly say I have "technical white-water experience", so is she saying the guides should have it? I'd definitely agree that I wouldn't go down any water like that without a well-seasoned guide. Anyway I'd like to do it, but it's still about 3-4 years away until my finances will allow me. Give a report when you've done it.

Oh, and another question--do you have to have a full group lined up to go, or can you sign on with a group that still has room? Anyone know?

On a guided trip, no experience or specialized gear is necessary and they can accomodate any group size or individuals. Don't expect to have the guides all to yourself unless you have a large group or pay a lot of money.
On a commercial trip, any given week in the summer, you can just call one of several companies doing tours down the canyon and find a trip length and style that fits you (big motored pontoons, normal sized oar or paddle rafts, fast motor rafts, self-paddled inflatable kayaks, etc.)

A rank beginner should definitely not be going through Cataract unguided. Lots of rocks to pin your boats against (and often it's impossible to unpin them even with special rigging equipment). Also several places to flip a boat, etc. Another logistical problem with running Cataract is the miles of flat water above and below the rapids. Below is currently not as big of an issue due to the low Lake Level. Thanks to the drought, now you can float rather quickly from the rapids to the take out in about a day, without motors. For the top section, unless you like rowing for 3 or 4 days straight on very flat water, you'll need an outboard motor or two in your group.

For an unguided run, permits can be obtained through the Canyonlands NPS with a couple months advanced notice and are not very difficult to obtain, unlike other popular river runs. Group size is a maximum of 30 or 40 or so.

I've done cataract about 6 times and we're doing it again later in the summer. Love it. I'll be sure to post a TR.

PS If anyone want to buy whitewater boats, or other various river gear (dry bags, paco pads, etc.) I know some one who I believe is selling them at a good price.