Take an exciting 100-mile white-water rafting trip on the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, one of the river's most spectacular stretches with towering walls and exhilarating rapids. Ideal for novices, this journey features three days of riding the rapids with our expert raft guides. 

 Rafting down the Colorado River  Colorado River near Canyonlands National Park  The Colorado River near Canyonlands National Park

Rafting Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River

6 days from $4,295

Take an exciting 100-mile white-water rafting trip on the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, one of the river's most spectacular stretches with towering walls and exhilarating rapids. Ideal for novices, this journey features three days of riding the rapids with our expert raft guides. 


Level 3: Moderate / Active

Expectations: This journey is part of our Smithsonian Active Journeys collection and is primarily a fully escorted calm water and Class II to Class IV white-water rafting trip with plenty of waves and drops as you meander through the Cataract Canyon. If you are reasonably fit and are up for a thrilling adventure this should be a comfortable and fun  journey for you. This tour will feature early mornings and each rafting day the trip will cover from 20 to 35 miles (up to 6 hours per day on the water) on the Colorado River, either motoring or paddling, encountering Class II to Class IV rapids, depending on water levels. No previous rafting experience is necessary, and all rafting gear and equipment is provided. Optional hikes of up to 1 mile (up to one and a half hours) and up to 800 feet of elevation gain and loss are taken at a leisurely pace over terrain that will include groomed trails with short steep sections. However, surfaces can be uneven, with uneven steps, rocks, mud, and exposed roots. All hikes are optional. It is always possible to stay with the raft and float to the next destination. Afternoons and evenings are at leisure to enjoy the canyon and camp. Packing suggestions including what to bring as far as clothing and gear, will be included in your Pre-Tour documents.

The flight from the take-out point on Lake Powell back to Moab, Utah on Day 5 is included in the trip price. Accommodations feature one night in Grand Junction, Colorado, two nights at a comfortable inn in Moab, Utah at the beginning and end of the rafting trip and two nights of camping along the river in deluxe tents with cots, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. Your river guides will assist with tent set up each evening.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, expect a somewhat vigorous pace, are comfortable with early mornings and participating in up to three hours of rafting the river per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.


Day 1 – Arrive in Grand Junction, Colorado

Arrive during the day into Grand Junction. Gather this evening for a welcome reception and opening remarks by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (R,D)

Day 2 – Dead Horse Point State Park, Arches National Park, Utah

After breakfast depart for the red rock desert of Utah’s Canyonlands. The first stop will be Dead Horse Point State Park. From high atop this mesa-promontory vantage point, take in sweeping views of Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River, landscapes that will be visited later in the trip. Drive to Arches National Park for a short walk to view one of the park’s most popular natural arches. Late in the day arrive at Red Cliffs Lodge, and enjoy dinner with views over the Colorado River. (B,L,D)

Hike/Walk: Delicate Arch (.5 miles), Easy or Landscape Arch (1.5-miles) easy

Day 3 – Jetboat to the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers

Travel to the launch point and the start of the three-day rafting journey. Board a jetboat and cruise down the flat waters of the mighty Colorado River through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Stop at a scenic spot for a picnic lunch, then continue towards the Colorado’s confluence with the Green River. All along the way marvel at the beauty of the towering red cliff walls of Canyonlands. As you cruise, learn about the area’s fascinating natural, geologic, and human history. Arrive at the confluence of the two rivers where a deluxe campsite awaits. Relax at the camp and take in the canyon’s grandeur from the sandy riverbanks or hike up to an overlook and visit an ancestral Puebloan dwellings. Cap off the extraordinary day with a chef-prepared gourmet dinner under the stars. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – White-water rafting through the Cataract Canyon

Wake to freshly brewed coffee and a hot, hearty, alfresco breakfast. Mid-morning head to meet the rafts for the upcoming white-water adventure—choosing from a large, J-rig pontoon raft or a paddle raft. Journey over as many as ten rapids this morning, as the river doubles in size and force. Enjoy lunch on the river bank.

An excursion to explore the canyon further by foot will be offered or relax riverside watching other’s run the rapids. In the afternoon, raft to even bigger white water, navigating through rapids with names such as Big Drop, Satan’s Gut, and Little Niagara. Late in the day pull up to a sandbar where a deluxe campsite and refreshments await, and relax and relive the day’s adventures. Enjoy a delicious riverside dinner and then take in the beauty of a star-filled sky before settling in to your deluxe tent. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Lake Powell, scenic flight over Canyonlands National Park

After breakfast and time riverside, board the rafts for a final morning of rapid running and, if time permits, there will be an option to hike Clearwater Canyon or Dark Canyon before reaching the take-out point in the calm waters of Lake Powell. After docking, depart for your charted flight and soar over Canyonlands National Park enroute back to Moab. Return to Red Cliffs Lodge for a farewell dinner and enjoy a final evening of camaraderie and celebration. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Depart for Home

Depart Moab, Utah and the splendor of canyon country and make the return drive to Grand Junction, Colorado for afternoon flights home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)