Really Great Experience Rafting Desolation Canyon
Our family had an awesome time rafting Desolation Canyon, we're so glad we did it. The guides were great, the scenery was beautiful, it was fun hanging out and meeting interesting new folks, and the rapids were neither too large nor too small. Lots of wildlife (bighorn sheep, river otters, a bald eagle, and much more). Honestly, I wish I was back on the river right now, it was just so wonderful.
Future travelers should be aware that day 1 is rather long and flat and not representative of the rest of the trip: it's necessary to get downstream to the really fun stuff, which starts on day 2 and in my opinion gets better each day of the trip. It was unusually buggy this time so do bring some spray, and we got rained on a bit so you should pack rain jackets and I recommend rain pants. Quick dry river pants are very useful for keeping the sun off, I found. Temperatures in the tents at night can be quite hot or actually rather cool, so pack layers accordingly. These minor irritants should not deter anyone, it's part of outdoor living and you'll have much more fun than misery overall.
There were lots of kids on our trip, some as young as five. They had no problems at all, and I wouldn't feel nervous about safety for any child in kindergarten or up. One father brought three kids ages 9, 7, and 5 and successfully solo-parented the whole time, so it can be done! If you don't like kids, I recommend looking for a different trip that suits your preferences better. For us, it was fun with our tween and the wide range of ages added to the experience. If you want a really wild river adventure you should look into more extreme rivers, such as the Colorado: Desolation mostly has class 2-3 rapids. Also, you won't be on paddle rafts, so if you want to get a wilder, more river-interactive experience go for the kayaks (which are two-person but also work just fine with one person). For me, this was all just right: I've done more extreme rivers but it was great to just relax and enjoy a more moderate river with some great folks.
Thank you to terrific team leader Abby and to Kelty, Hank, Shelby, and Spencer (dragged out of bed on the day of departure to unexpectedly join us!) and Western River Expeditions for making it a fantastic experience that we'll always remember!