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Utah Rafting
Westwater Multisport

Westwater Multisport Vacation Questions

A rafting vacation in Westwater Canyon often entails many questions. What type of boats are used? How does camping on the river work? What is the food like? What do I need to bring and what is supplied by Western River Expeditions? You'll find answers to all these questions and many more in the categories below.

Physical & Dietary Requirements

What are the physical requirements for this trip?

A whitewater rafting trip can be both thrilling and challenging. Participation requires an appropriate mind set. The same qualities that make a river trip appealing to most people can present real difficulties to others. We desire to strike the appropriate balance between encouraging our guests to stretch themselves and making sure they are protected from harm.

The remoteness of the location, rugged terrain, and being outdoors are a major part of the appeal. We take pride in our ability to accommodate a variety of disabilities and strive to make our trips as accessible as possible. However, a river trip is not for everyone. The last thing we want is for you to be miserable or to get injured. Your decision to participate should be carefully evaluated.

What about hiking?

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.

Do I need to know how to swim to go on this trip?

You need to be comfortable floating in water while wearing a life jacket and you need the ability to propel yourself through the water to assist in your own rescue should you fall out of the raft. Falling off the boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore.

Each guest wears a life jacket and the life jackets, if worn properly, are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent.


A river trip is a participatory experience and requires each guest to be reasonably self-sufficient. Our guides will look after the safety and welfare of all the participants on the trip, but you are also responsible for your own safety! Our guides will provide you with the information and tools you need to participate; however, they already fill nearly every minute of their day performing their duties on behalf of the group. They will not be able to devote a lot of extra time to any one individual on the trip.

Remote Location

Our river trips are operated in the “backcountry.” At any given time, you may be a minimum of several hours away from medical help. Our guides are all trained in wilderness first aid and some have even higher levels of emergency response training (e.g., EMT) We carry satellite phones but they are not 100 percent reliable in all locations.


On the same trip, you may experience extreme cold, heat, wind and perfectly comfortable conditions. For this reason, we encourage our guests to bring everything from shorts to substantial rain gear. Because our trips are in the Desert Southwest, shade is often scarce, so adequate sun block lotion and sun protective clothing is a must.


Getting on and off the boats can be very challenging. We park the boats against a variety of terrain such as rocks, sandy beaches, and flat locations. Boats may also be slippery and they have uneven surfaces.

Falling off a raft

Falling off a boat into the river, or having your boat capsize is one of the inherent risks associated with whitewater rafting. If this happens, you will need the ability to self-rescue by swimming to the boat or to shore. If you end up on shore, you will need to traverse a rocky shoreline to rejoin the boat which cannot maneuver upstream.

For those participants who have heart conditions or who are very overweight, falling into the river also presents the possibility of a “cold-water immersion heart attack.” This is caused when the person swimming cannot calm his/her breathing within a reasonable amount of time (generally 60 seconds).


Each guest wears a life jacket and they are very effective at keeping you above water, but if you are unable to swim, it can still be a threatening situation because the waters are turbulent. The life jackets we use are certified by the United States Coast Guard and are approved for use by our managing agencies (National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management & Utah State Parks & Recreation). They are classified as “Type V Whitewater” jackets, and they come in two basic sizes “Youth” and “Adult Universal.”

Youth jackets fit someone weighing between 50 and 90 pounds (23-41kg). An Adult Universal Jacket is rated “for persons weighing more than 90 pounds (41kg).” They are highly adjustable and fit a range of chest sizes from 30 - 58 inches (76-147 cm). Body shape can also affect the proper fit of the jacket. If you are unsure, call and speak with us. If necessary, we’ll mail you one of our jackets and you can try it on.

The Importance of Full Disclosure

We don’t want to be overly discouraging, but it is important for your safety and comfort that we be forthcoming about the specific challenges presented on a river trip. It is also vitally important that you disclose any and all physical, emotional, and mental conditions, limitations, or challenges you or your children may have. Likewise, it is important to be completely honest about the age and weight of children. Undisclosed medical or physical conditions might affect the safety and well-being of you and/or other participants on the trip. It is critical that you share this information with us in advance so that we can help keep you safe.

We cannot absolutely guarantee your safety, or the suitability of a trip like this for you. For a participant who is not capable of meeting these criteria, a river trip, particularly a multi-day trip, can be unpleasant, dangerous, or even fatal. For those who meet these criteria, these trips are often the best experiences of their lives. The difference is in determining your suitability for a trip, then selecting the right trip for you, and arriving physically and mentally prepared to actively and joyfully participate in the experience.

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.

Reservations & Cancellations

What deposit is required?

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).

Can I hold space without a deposit?

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.

When is final payment due?

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.

How can I make payments?

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.

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

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.

Is cancellation insurance available?

If you are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel, you will find information about cancellation coverage at

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.

What about tips and gratuities?

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.

Are departures guaranteed?

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)

What if the date I want is sold out?

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.

How far in advance should I make my reservation?

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.

Groups & Charters

What is the maximum number of guests on this trip?

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.

How many guests per raft?

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.

Can I charter my own private trip?

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:

What about group discounts?

This Westwater Multi-sport Adventure package (based on double occupancy), offers each guest a discounted rate (no group reservations required).

What is the easiest way to get my friends booked on the same trip?

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.

What if I’m traveling solo?

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.

Traveling with Children

What is the age limit for this trip and is it flexible?

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.

What if my kids are picky eaters?

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.

Is this the best trip for younger children?

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.

Preparing & Packing

What should I bring?

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:

Do I need a wetsuit?

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.

Can I bring my own life jacket or PFD?

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.

How should I be dressed the morning of my rafting trip?

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.

What about sun protection?

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.

Am I able to charge my camera while on the river?

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.

How do I protect my belongings from getting wet?

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.

What gear is provided with the trip?

For the Westwater rafting trip, a large waterproof dry bag will be available on each raft for storage of personal items (sunscreen, camera, etc).

What do I do with extra belongings?

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.

What about fishing on the river?
Fishing is not allowed on the rafts, and there is inadequate time to fish during our lunch stop on the shore.
What if I need to take medications?

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.

On the River

What is a typical day on the river and how much time is spent on the raft?

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.

What about rapids and water levels?

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.

What type of raft can I expect?

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.

What is the water temperature on the river?

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.

What about swimming?

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.

What do I do about feminine hygiene during the trip?

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:

  • Bring a sarong that can be used for additional privacy.
  • Wear a two-piece swimsuit such as a tankini with swimsuit bottoms covered by shorts. This is most comfortable for wearing lifejackets, sitting on boats and going to the bathroom.
  • Bring hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and non-applicator tampons.
Can I be contacted while on the river?

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.

Can I contact others while on the river?

Cell service may be limited, reception poor, or non-existent.

Are there any guidelines about camera use on the river?

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:

  • Shooting from an appropriate location - Wearing a camera in certain locations could endanger yourself or others around you. If you guide feels that your use of a camera may put you or another guest in danger, you may be asked to put the camera away or move to a safer location for filming.
  • No pole mounts or extension devices on rafts - Cameras cannot be mounted to poles or other extension devices while on rafts as this may endanger you or other guests.
  • Shut down cameras in emergency situations - For the privacy of those involved and your own personal safety, you will be expected to shut your camera down if first aid is being rendered or in an emergency situation. We need all guests to remain alert and undistracted from filming or taking pictures in such situations.
  • Anticipate battery or card change necessities - If you see your card getting full or battery getting low, change them ahead of time during an appropriate moment. Rafts or vehicles cannot be stopped to change batteries or memory cards.
  • Cameras may be damaged or lost - We cannot guarantee the safety of your camera. It may become wet, sandy, lost in the river, dropped on a hike, etc.
  • Respect the privacy of others - If someone does not want to be filmed or photographed, please respect their privacy.
  • 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.

    See it at Red Rock Outfitters

    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.

    The Great Outdoors

    What do I do with jewelry while on the river?
    It is best to leave your jewelry behind. Rafting is an active vacation and jewelry often gets in the way. Earrings and necklaces can get caught on lifejackets. Rings can also cause injuries when you are holding on tightly to ropes.
    What weather can I expect?

    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.

    See the Weather page for this trip.

    Food & Beverage

    What meals are provided with the trip?

    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.

    What beverages are supplied and what can I bring?

    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.

    What about dietary restrictions or food allergies?

    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.

    Can I bring my own food and snacks?

    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.

    Travel & Logistics

    When is the best time to travel?

    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.

    What weather should I expect?

    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:

    How do I get there?

    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:

    What transportation is provided with the trip?

    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.

    What do I do with my car keys?

    During the Westwater rafting trip, guests leave car keys in their room at Red Cliffs, since we pick up and return there.

    What accommodations are recommended before and after the trip?

    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:

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