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Cataract Canyon Classic

The Perfect Cataract Canyon Vacation Itinerary

A wilderness of stone with never-ending red rock castles, labyrinth canyons, maze districts, islands in the sky, and a more-than-gentle Colorado River lures explorers placidly, at first, into the sleeping dragon's lair, known today as Cataract Canyon. Stunning sunsets fall into striking star-studded skies, then rise again with crimson calls to continue the conquest downstream on the Colorado River. Plenty of hikes and excursions between campsites over the first few days keep you in wonder and awe.

Doubling in size with the confluence of the Green River, the Colorado River seems to burst into roughly 30 rapids (or 30 rapids roughly) in half that many miles. The sleeping dragon awakes, reminding you why you chose a Cataract Canyon adventure! Dragon slain, conquest conquered, enjoy one last night in Cataract Canyon, one more sunset, one more dinner along the river. This time, talking of adventure, glory, and unforgettable memories. Survey the battle scenes one last time with a scenic flight over Canyonlands National Park as you return to Moab.

Cataract Canyon River Map

Day 1 & 2: Cataract Canyon »

Begin Day 1 at SpringHill Suites by Marriott Moab, where you'll take a short bus ride to the launch site for Cataract Canyon. After meeting your guides, you'll set off onto the Colorado River. Leave all the busyness of life behind as you glide along smooth-flowing currents winding through Canyonlands National Park where sculpted sandstone, isolated buttes, and red rock castles offer unparalleled vistas for picture taking. Hike to ancient Indian ruins, pictographs and a magnificent outlook high above the mighty Colorado River.

Sunrise over the Island in the Sky

Day 3: Cataract Canyon »

As the canyon deepens to 2,000 feet, the mood of the river changes drastically. Here you'll experience over 30 thrilling whitewater rapids! In one of the Colorado River's most notorious whitewater stretches called the "Big Drops," your raft plunges 30 feet in a matter of minutes through rapids that can match those of the Grand Canyon in power and difficulty. Loosen your grip after Imperial Rapid and reminisce over your unbelievable journey. Relish one more night camping on the river's edge. Watch the final rays of sun paint the canyon walls as your guides prepare delicious appetizers, barbeque dinner, and Dutch-oven dessert. Fall asleep under one of the world's most astounding views of the night sky.

Whitewater rafting in Cataract Canyon

Days 4: Cataract Canyon »

After a delicious breakfast, you'll savor a soothing morning winding through towering, sun-drenched canyons as you make your way downriver towards Lake Powell. Enjoy a final lunch along the river before bidding farewell to the legendary Colorado River and your many new friends. Climb aboard a Cessna 5-7 seat aircraft and experience a spectacular 1-hour scenic return flight over Canyonlands National Park and back to Moab, Utah (arriving approximately 3:00 PM). Return time may be earlier, depending on flight schedules.

Campfire in Cataract Canyon

Suggested Adventure Extension »

Add it before or after your Cataract Canyon rafting trip, but be sure to make the most of your stay in Moab by extending your Adventure with us. Western's Moab Adventure Center is your one stop for any adventures you'd like to add to your itinerary.

OPTION A: Experienced Moab Adventure Center trail guides will lead you through Arches Natl Park early morning (4 hrs), then join us again in the evening for a uniquely thrilling Sunset Hummer Safari (3 hrs) over ancient petrified sand dunes.

OPTION B: Grab some morning thrills on a Slickrock Hummer Safari (2 hrs) and then join up with an Arches Sunset Van Tour (4 hrs) through Arches National Park.

OPTIONS C -Z: The sky is literally NOT the limit with these adventure possibilites... We've got Hot Air Ballooning, Scenic Flights, Ziplines, Canyoneering... Call us and we'll help you decide!

Top 12 Adventures in Moab

Canyonlands Flight
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Preparing for your Adventure...


Once you make your reservation, you will receive a Confirmation Sheet (via email). You should also receive several other timely emails that will help you with travel planning, packing and general information that guests have found useful.

Travel Planning Resources

Where and When to Meet

Meet in the lobby of the SpringHill Suites by Marriott in Moab on the morning of your river trip. [SEE CONFIRMATION SHEET FOR EXACT DEPARTURE TIME].

How to get to Moab, Utah

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After your Cataract Canyon Vacation...

You will likely want to reserve at least one night of lodging on the final day of your trip as you'll return to Moab around 3:00 PM. If you will be traveling on but wish to shower before leaving Moab, we can direct you to several locations in town that offer shower facilities.

Tip » We highly recommend adding a Sunset Hummer Safari to your itinerary. You'll ride over incredible sandstone fins out to a beautiful sunset overlook over the Colorado River.

For optional 2-hour to full-day excursions in Moab, Utah before or after your trip plus helpful Moab area information, visit