A multi-sport/rafting vacation in Westwater Canyon often entails many questions. You'll find answers to common questions in the categories below.
Please consider carefully any medical or health condition that would endanger yourself, or others on the trip, or diminish the enjoyment of an adventure vacation such as this. Factors of age, weight, lack of conditioning, heart or other disease can become exacerbated by the environment, remote distances from a hospital, and physical challenges of a rafting adventure. It is critical that you are in reasonable health and physical fitness at the time of departure so that our staff can focus their attention equally on all trip participants. If you are taking any medications, we should be made aware of these and what these medications are treating. If you have any questions or concerns please talk with us and we can help you consider your options.
Hiking opportunities are limited as we raft through Westwater Canyon. Depending on time and water conditions, there may be a short hike to a miner’s cabin.
We encourage you to carefully evaluate your overall physical, mental, and emotional condition in relation to these environmental challenges. If you have concerns or questions about your physical condition, we recommend you also consult your physician. If you have questions about the specific parameters of a rafting trip with Western River Expeditions, please contact our office at 1-800-453-7450 or 801-942-6669. We would be happy to provide any other information you need to make this decision, or to discuss any of this information in detail.
Physical fitness on a rafting trip is probably the very best way to get the most out of your adventure. Hiking to hidden attractions away from the river's edge, shooting rapids with anticipation rather than anxiety, and possibly even swimming in the river are among the more active things where being more fit will enhance your whitewater rafting vacation. Feeling confident with your abilities is always a great feeling, but the rewards you'll get from physically preparing your body for a rafting trip will pay off in numerous ways, possibly adding years to your life. Now THAT'S living! So, how does one best prepare physically for a rafting adventure? Great question. We've made a list of simple exercises that can be combined together and are specifically applicable to a rafting adventure:
Strength: Gripping ropes (or paddles) is one universal constant for any rafting trip. Start squeezing stress balls or spring-loaded grip strengtheners. Keep these small items handy (pun-intended) while stopped at a red light, working at the desk, or while walking and talking. Legs are another key area to focus on - especially if you want to explore the side trips away from the river's edge. Start with walks around your neighborhood while gripping hand weights to strengthen grip simultaneously. You might as well do some curls with those hands weights while you're at it! Some hikes require some (or a lot of) stair-stepping activity. To really get your legs ready, consider squats, burpees, jump-rope or jumping jacks. All the little muscles in your feet that give you balance will come in very handy (or is that footy)? while walking on uneven terrain.
Lungs & Heart: Breathing heavy is a sure sign your heart rate is up. You probably know lots of ways to get your heart rate up, but one of the best ways to work your entire body (muscles AND heart and lungs) is an exercise with a stupid name, called "Burpees." (No, that's not what you get from consuming a 7-11 Slurpee too fast). You can do burpees at any pace you are ready for, but do it long enough to get breathing hard, then catch your breath and repeat for, say 5 minutes a day. Add in walking your dog, using hand-grip weights or anything else that also strengthens your grip to be more time efficient as you prepare.
Flexibility: Sitting in a raft is different from how we normally sit in a chair. Walking on uneven terrain is different than on a paved path. Flexibility may be more important than strength in helping prevent injuries. Consider that when you absolutely don't want to exercise, but you do have a minute to stretch. Always be stretching.
Balance & Mental Awareness: Of course knowing your own limits is vital for keeping yourself safer - and that responsibility can't be placed on anyone but you! While exercising and preparing for your rafting trip, pay attention to two things: (1) Your own sense of physical balance, and (2) how much harder you can push yourself that you initially may have thought. These two things will keep you safer, while also moving beyond self-imposed limitations and comfort zones. That's the definition of a great adventure!
Drink lotsa water: Get used to drinking a lot of water as you exercise more. In the hot sun, even simply sitting on a raft, you will sweat and burn more calories than you may have thought. Hydration is not an area to "push through" and "be tough" about! Drink water! Reward that hard working body!
Swimming skills are a plus! Swimming is a great way to prepare for a rafting trip too. You may (voluntarily or involuntarily) be doing some swimming on your rafting trip. Don't let that scare you. You've got a lifejacket (PFD) on at all times and may only need to do some strokes and kicks to get yourself back to the boat, or to shore.
Myth #9 on our 11 Myths of Whitewater Rafting page dispels the notion that you must be athletic to enjoy a rafting trip. Take a look there if you want to learn more about what to expect on rafting vacations.If you have concerns or questions about your physical condition, we recommend you also consult your physician. If you have questions about the specific parameters of a rafting trip with Western River Expeditions, please contact our office at 1-800-453-7450 or 801-942-6669. We would be happy to provide any other information you need to make this decision, or to discuss any of this information in detail.
If you are pregnant, you will not be permitted to go rafting. Our trips take place in remote wilderness settings where access to advanced medical care can be hours away (possibly overnight), and conditions such as extreme heat and vigorous activity can exacerbate discomfort and any known or unknown conditions.
Please remember that you will not always be pregnant, but the river will always be here. We do not believe it is worth the risk, no matter how early you are in your pregnancy. We think moms are special and hope you understand.
If you think there is a chance that you may be pregnant after making your deposit you should take out cancellation insurance that would have coverage to cancel for any reason or plan to have someone take your place. We offer the name change option for you or anyone in your party for $50 per person.
An initial deposit of $200 per person is required to secure your space. Deposits may be made by check or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express).
We offer a 48 hour courtesy hold, no deposit required. Exceptions to this standard courtesy hold time are evaluated as to how many seats are still available and how close the actual travel date may be. An email reminder is sent prior to expiration of the hold.
Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable. Payment may be paid by check (preferably) or credit card.
For your convenience, we offer an automatic payment service to charge the balance due to your credit card 90 days prior to trip departure or you may make partial payments by credit card or check providing the full balance is paid 90 days prior to your trip. We reserve the right to cancel your reservation if full payment is not collected by the due date. You may also make payments towards your balance prior to the final due date. These payments may be made online or by phone. Installment payments can be scheduled to run automatically if requested. For payments over $10,000 and for large international payments, a check or wire transfer is preferred.
An initial deposit of $200 per person is required to secure your space. deposit is refundable less a $100 per person cancellation fee for cancellations 90+ days prior to trip departure. Payment in full is due 90 days prior to trip departure and is non-refundable.
Our cancellation policy applies in every instance and there will be no exceptions for any reason. Western River Expeditions will not issue any refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early whether voluntary or caused by other circumstances. Western River Expeditions is not responsible for any expenses incurred due to travel delays, flight cancellations, or illness. Western River Expeditions assumes no financial responsibility for personal injury, emergency evacuation, or personal equipment lost or damaged in any way.
In the event that we are forced to cancel any portion of the direct services provided by Western River Expeditions or contractors due to unsafe water levels, wildfire, flooding or other unforeseen circumstances, Western River Expeditions will refund the portion of the unavailable services. However, in these cases, refunds will not be given for flights or other travel expenses related to the trip.
Depending on availability and advance notice, you may have the option to transfer your reservation to another date or trip for a transfer fee. This is not guaranteed, and availability and transfer policies vary between trips.
If you are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel, you will find information about cancellation coverage at www.travelguard.com/westernriver.
Some of the most difficult situations occur when a guest needs to cancel a few days before a trip because of an injury, a family illness, or some other catastrophic event. In these situations, we generally do not have time to refill the space. Yet, we have already spent considerable time, money, and energy preparing for your trip: scheduling vehicles, flights, drivers, guides and equipment, purchasing food, etc. Because of our short season and very limited number of available seats, we cannot afford the financial loss that cancellations cause. Therefore, consider the investment you are making in your vacation and whether or not you could afford the loss if you did have to cancel.
Your guides will make every effort to see that each of your adventures is enjoyable and successful. Gratuities for guides are appropriate, greatly appreciated and at your discretion, as a gesture of thanks for their professionalism and service. As guides for each activity will likely differ, you'll want to take some cash on each of the trips. A suggested per-person guideline is between $5 and $10 for the Hummer tour and $10 to $25 on the rafting trip. The common practice is to give the gratuity to the guide at the end of the trip. In trips where multiple guides have participated, the gratuity will be split amongst all of them.
Six seats are available for each Westwater Multi-sport date offered. Depending on lodging availability at Red Cliffs, we may be able to add more seats. If we cancel a trip for any reason, a full refund will be provided - excluding external travel expenses (flights, hotels, etc)
When searching availability online, “Add To My Itinerary” indicates there is space available; “Contact Us” indicates the date is either sold out or has less availability than the number of seats requested in the search process. Please call us with questions or for clarification. We can put guests on a waitlist for a sold out date in case seats become available due to a cancellation. Also, we can suggest similar trips that may be excellent alternatives.
Westwater Multi-sport dates are offered around our permitted 1-Day Westwater Canyon Adventure rafting dates. Trips are generally offered mid-May until late September each year. The following year trip dates are available to book at the end of the current season. We suggest reserving early, to guarantee date of choice.
For the Hummer Slickrock Safari portion of the trip, there may be up to 36 total guests. For the Westwater Canyon Adventure rafting portion, up to 25 total guests.
For this 18 mile high-adventure section of the Colorado River, we use oar boats or paddle boats, depending on water levels and general conditions.
Oar boats accommodate 4-6 guests, with 1 guide. Guide paddles
Paddle boats accommodate 6-8 guests, with 1 guide. Guests paddle with guide direction.
Start with reserving all 25 seats for the Westwater Canyon Adventure rafting trip, then a custom itinerary of private activities can be created through our Moab Adventure Center:
This Westwater Multi-sport Adventure package (based on double occupancy), offers each guest a discounted rate (no group reservations required).
Friends may call our office (800-453-7450), mentioning their friend’s name or personal reservation number. For friends who prefer to make a reservation online, they would simply note in the comment section the guest’s name whom they are joining. Or, we also offer a courtesy hold option, which allows the guest to request a specific number of available seats to be held for designated time period (automatically 48 hours) to allow others to then call in to join the trip.
Westwater Multi-sport pricing is based on double occupancy, so there is a lodging single supplement for solo travelers. This handpicked sampling of lodging and activities offers a wonderful group travel environment.
Guests must be age 12 at time of travel. There are no exceptions to this age limit. There is no maximum age limit, but guests will want to consider the physical nature of the various outdoor activities.
Red Cliffs Lodge, where guests will enjoy a bounteous breakfast buffet each morning and one dinner the evening of choice, offers a wide variety of delicious food items. Lunch is a build-your-own sandwich buffet, including chips, cookies, apples, and oranges. Additionally, two snacks will be provided during the day.
For guests as young as age 5, our Southwest Sampler (two activities, an overnight rafting trip, lodging) and Green River trip (dedicated 5-day river trip) are excellent choices. Guests age 9+ may participate on our Grand Canyon 3 or 4-Day trips.
For the Hummer Slickrock Safari portion of the trip guests should bring sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, refillable water bottle and camera.
For the Westwater Canyon rafting portion of the Westwater Multi-sport, guests should wear a swimsuit, quick-drying shirt and shorts/pants, sturdy water sandals or shoes and bring sunscreen, sunscreen lip balm, sunglasses with retention device, hat with safety strap, sport water bottle with clip or carabiner, waterproof camera. Weather and water temperatures will vary throughout the season, so being prepared for a variety of conditions is important. It is better to take something and not use it, than not have it and need it. Carefully following our packing list will assure that guests will be prepared. The following link offers a printable packing list:
We recommend a two-piece rain suit that can be used as needed. A wetsuit is cumbersome to take on and off when rafting. On this 18 mile Colorado River section, water temperatures are cold early season and will continue to warm as the season progresses, so this extra layer is not always critical to protect against cold water temperatures. But, weather conditions vary, and even in warm summer months we have had guests grateful they had the extra layer to put on during inclement weather.
Guests are not allowed to bring their own life jacket or PFD. Western River Expeditions is subject to regulations promulgated by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and State Parks. All three of these agencies require that guests of commercial outfitters wear Type V Whitewater life jackets. Personal life jackets are usually meant for lake sports and even Type III jackets, meant for kayaking or canoeing, are not acceptable for use by our guests.
Fortunately, the newer generations of Type V life jackets are very comfortable. They also have a lot more floatation than the typical personal jacket.
Guests should be dressed, ready to raft! Swimsuit (or sports bra and quick dry underwear for women) under quick dry shirt and shorts, water shoes or sandals, then brimmed hat and sunglasses with retention devices. Don’t forget a water bottle with carabiner, sunscreen and lip balm, and waterproof camera.
The combination of sun and water demands adequate skin protection from sunburn. Plan to bring a plentiful supply of sunscreen, and 15+SPF lip balm to be reapplied throughout the day. A brimmed sun hat or baseball cap should have a retention device. Clothing items to consider include quick-dry long-sleeved shirts and long pants for additional coverage. Plan to drink lots of fluids to keep hydrated.
Bring cameras fully charged. If a cell phone is used for picture taking, it should be in airplane mode to conserve battery life, and be in a waterproof case.
Bring personal items in a small shoulder bag or pouch. Items can then be put in the dry bag, which is then rolled down and the straps clipped to keep contents dry. Anything brought on the river may still get wet -- do not bring valuables or items that would be ruined by water, sand, or dirt.
For the Westwater rafting trip, a large waterproof dry bag will be available on each raft for storage of personal items (sunscreen, camera, etc).
For the Westwater rafting trip, personal items brought on the bus but not needed on the river may be left on the bus while rafting.
Guests should bring an adequate supply of all necessary medications. They will be accessible during the day when stored in a dry bag or if needed, in cold storage on the raft. A list of medications should be provided to us, along with any related medical conditions.
Guests will be picked up at Red Cliffs Lodge at approximately 8:15 AM. Bus continues just over an hour to the Westwater Canyon launch point. On water time depends on water levels and speed, averaging approx. 6 hours with a lunch stop along the way.
Because the Colorado River flow through this section of river is not controlled by a dam, water levels vary throughout the season. Higher, faster water occurs earlier season (May, June), and begins to slow the rapid pace July-September. Depending on precipitation amounts and particularly snowfall in the Colorado River basin that feeds the Colorado through snowmelt, water levels continually change. Rapids are classified using the traditional class I-V rapid rating scale, which factors in not only water levels, but navigational difficulty. Typically, this high adventure river section has class III-IV whitewater.
Depending on water levels, guests have the opportunity to let the guides do the rowing (oar boats) or be part of the paddling crew (paddle boats). Oar boats hold 4-6 guests; paddle boats 6-8 guests.
Because the water feeding into the Colorado River is primarily melted snow from winter’s Colorado River basin snowpack, the earliest trips will likely have water temperatures in the 55 degree range. As the season progresses, both the sun and warmer air temperatures affect the water temperatures, which may reach 70 degrees or above.
Due to challenging water conditions, Westwater Canyon trips focus on rafting rather than swimming. There may be opportunities for swimming after exiting the canyon and before the take-out.
If you expect to be menstruating during your trip, we recommend the use of tampons rather than pads. During the day, you will constantly be getting wet, so pads are not ideal. If you choose to use pads, we recommend wearing a good pair of waterproof rain pants.
A good strategy is to bring one or more sandwich-sized zip-lock bags pre-packed with individual tampons. The same bag can then be used for disposal after use. The guides will stop as often as is necessary during the day to accommodate your needs. We will always provide a means for discreet disposal of feminine hygiene items. It is best that you bring your own supplies, but we also carry a supply of feminine hygiene products.
Additional tips that have come from previous guests:
Once you are on the river, you likely will not have cell service. Messages left for you on your personal cell phone will be the best way for friends and family to reach you, once you have cell service again.
Cell service may be limited, reception poor, or non-existent.
We do have several guidelines and suggestions for camera use while on your trip. You are free to film and shoot photos during our trips, however, we ask that you consult with your guide before doing so. We have some guidelines you will be asked to follow. These include:
If you’re wondering what type of camera is most suitable for the river, here are a few thoughts.
Waterproof/Shockproof Digital Cameras - These cameras are perfect for everyday use and have become very affordable with most at $100 to $300. They’re rugged and waterproof, but also elegant and trim like any other digital camera.
GoPro and Similar Cameras - Together with their durable waterproof cases, these cameras can take some nice shots while on and off the water. Generally, the wide angle zoom cannot be adjusted so this should be taken into consideration. We ask that you plan to mount these cameras only with the head strap or helmet mount options (bring your own helmet). You will not be allowed to mount the cameras anywhere on the rafts during travel on the river.
Larger SLR Cameras - It is possible to bring a larger SLR camera, but be sure to have something sturdy to protect it. We recommend a hard-shell Pelican Case if you’re planning to bring a more expensive camera. Space is limited on the boats, so we try to keep additional camera equipment minimal.
Aquapac - This is a good solution if you aren’t in the market for a brand new camera, but just want to protect the one you have. It is a flexible waterproof housing to fit a number of camera types -- including video cameras. You do need to make sure the plastic housing stays clean as you’re shooting through it, but a lot of our guests find this to be a nice solution.
Batteries and Cards - While your are in remote areas during your trip, there will not be any location to charge your batteries or devices. Consider bringing extra batteries and memory cards and don't forget to charge your extra batteries before you get to the river.
Small Float - You might consider attaching your camera to a small float that may save your camera if you happen to drop it in the river. GoPro sells a small, attachable float that fits on the back of the camera housing that many of our guests find useful.
Check area weather conditions prior to the travel date, but realize that weather may vary in the canyon from Moab or wherever the weather readings were taken.
Upon check-in at Red Cliffs the afternoon of Day 1, guests will be given 3 breakfast vouchers and 1 dinner voucher. Vouchers are redeemed each morning at breakfast - a breakfast buffet with a variety of delicious items. The dinner vouchers may be used the evening of Day 1, 2, or 3 during the Red Cliffs stay. Dinner reservations are advisable and may be made while at the property. Guests will enjoy lunch on Day 3, served on a beach in Westwater Canyon. Snacks and water bottle refills are also available during the river trip. For two dinners and lunch on Day 2, choose Red Cliffs or among the many restaurant choices in Moab.
Guests should bring a personal sport water bottle with a carabiner, to fill with cold water supplied for both the Hummer Slickrock Safari and the Westwater rafting trip. Guests are encouraged to drink plenty of liquids to stay well hydrated, and can fill personal water bottles as desired.
If you have a specific food allergy or sensitivity, please let us know. If you have dietary restrictions based on a lifestyle choice or religious practice, please let us know. If your food allergy is severe, we need to have a more in-depth conversation about what can and cannot be done.
We have both cold and dry storage available on our boats for any supplemental products you may bring.
We cannot absolutely guarantee your safety if your food allergy is severe enough to cause anaphylaxis. You must bring an adequate supply of your own Epipens to meet your needs. Please understand that one injection of an epipen will only last 10-20 minutes and that an evacuation from the river may take hours.
Please let us know of any special dietary needs well in advance. Special food requests made within two weeks of the trip launch date may not be able to be accommodated.
We bring a variety of snacks on every trip. As a general rule, snacks will be served mid-morning and mid-afternoon while traveling down river. If you would like to bring some of your own snacks, small, pre-packaged items are best. We can provide cold or dry storage. If you have special dietary needs, bringing some of your own snacks that work well for you is a great idea.
Moab is a popular adventure travel destination. The Westwater Multi-sport is offered during the peak travel months of May through September. Whether guests prefer cooler spring temperatures in May or warmer summer months for travel, we think anytime is perfect for a visit to Moab.
Because weather can be unpredictable, we recommend guests be prepared for both warmer and cooler weather conditions that may occur on the same trip. Check area weather conditions prior to the travel date, but realize that weather may vary in the canyon from Moab or wherever the weather readings were taken. This link may give an idea of what to expect:
Driving directly to Moab, UT or flying into Grand Junction, CO (GJT) or Salt Lake City, UT (SLC) and then renting a car or catching a shuttle make getting to Moab easy. Guests check in at Red Cliffs Lodge, Mile Post 14 along scenic highway 128, which follows the Colorado River outside of Moab. On the south side of the Colorado River Bridge (1 mile north of Moab), turn east off of Hwy 191 for 14 miles. Red Cliffs Lodge is the second entrance on the left hand side of the road.
Here are helpful details about getting to Moab:
Transportation is provided to and from our Moab Adventure Center for the Hummer Slickrock Safari. (Guests will need to drive there from Red Cliffs on Day 2 to meet at 9:45 AM). Complimentary parking is provided while on the Hummer Safari. Pick up is at Red Cliffs Lodge for the Westwater rafting trip (Day 3), with return there following. Otherwise, guests drive to and from Red Cliffs and Moab as desired.
During the Westwater rafting trip, guests leave car keys in their room at Red Cliffs, since we pick up and return there.
Whether or not you choose to extend your stay before or after Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab offers numerous other lodging options, which include hotels, motels, bed and breakfast properties, ranch resorts, condos, homes, and campsites. Because Moab is a popular adventure travel location, we encourage guests to make reservations early. This link offers a variety of lodging choices:
Comprehensive PDF guides for each expedition. Make a selection below and enter your information. You'll receive an email to download your requested guide.