Yampa River Rafting
Whitewater Rafting in Colorado with O.A.R.S
- Raft the exciting Class III-IV Warm Springs Rapid
- Hike to Whispering Cave and Whirlpool Canyon
- Visit the Fremont Indian granaries
On O.A.R.S. Yampa River rafting trip you can raft one of the Rocky Mountain’s last untamed rivers, while visiting pre-Columbian ruins and petroglyphs.
O.A.R.S. Yampa River rafting trip is an unforgettable Colorado rafting adventure for kids, teens and ever-inquisitive travelers alike. The Yampa River is the one major tributary in the Colorado River system that runs wild and free, straight to the heart of Dinosaur National Monument. For three months a year (May-July), the Yampa River flows free with fresh, surging run-off from miles above—waters originating from the melting snows and glaciers of the world-famous Colorado Rockies. Easily manageable Class III and IV whitewater rafting flows carry paddlers through colorful canyons of red, yellow and orange and on into Dinosaur National Monument. A billion years are captured in these canyon walls, along with the remnants of various life forms that existed long before humans. Our pathway through time showcases some of the oldest exposed rocks in the world, ones that have been folded, lifted and split by eons of geological forces.
- All meals from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 4
- Skilled professional guide service
- High quality inflatable rafts and kayaks, and related river equipment including paddle and helmet
- and personal flotation device
- Transportation from Vernal to the river and back
- Transportation to and from Vernal
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Tents, sleeping bags and pads (may be rented from O.A.R.S.)
- Insurance of any kind, including travel insurance
- Alcoholic beverages
- Items of a personal nature
Day by Day Itinerary
We'll begin our adventure with a scenic two-hour drive from Vernal to our put-in at
Deerlodge Park, where your boats and the rest of your O.A.R.S. crew meet you. After a
thorough safety talk, our journey begins. Today, the Yampa meanders through wide-open
desert scenery, quite distinctive from the deep canyons that adorn most of the river corridor.
Blooming cactus is among the eye-catching desert flora that we'll enjoy today as we
peacefully float down the river, soaking in the sights, sounds and sensations of our
Our first day on the Yampa generally sets the pace for the remainder our river trip.
Typically, we spend a few hours on the water in the morning, sometimes stopping for a great
hike, a visit to a waterfall or Indian petroglyphs, or a refreshing swim. Come lunchtime, we
pull over to a sandy beach and enjoy a delicious picnic. After feasting and relaxing on the
beach (and perhaps a game of Frisbee or horseshoes), we get back into our boats and watch
the desert panoramas slowly develop as we continue down the river. Today's whitewater is
relatively mild, but over the course of the next few days, the rapids become bigger and more
frequent - perfect for trying out the paddleboat and inflatable kayak! Mid- to late-afternoon,
we stop and make camp; you grab your bags and set up your tent while we take care of the
kitchen and "living room" - camp chairs and the site for tonight's campfire (if permitted).
This is the perfect time for you to lounge on the beach with that book you want to finish
Before long you will be savoring pleasing hors d'oeuvres and the beverage of your choice -
delicious as these refreshments are, they always taste better after a day on the river! Nap,
take an exploratory hike, or just sit back and laugh with friends and family as we prepare
dinner. After another satisfying feast, the evening is yours to spend however you wish.
Maybe music, stories or jokes will bring us together tonight; maybe the popping of the fire,
the whisper of the river and the clarity of the big, star-filled sky will encourage silent
reflection on the amazing wilderness that is, for now, our home.
Your days on the river will begin with the morning light reflecting the colors of sunrise in the river. Fresh coffee and tea are waiting for you when you get up; grab a cup, sit back and take in the glory of the awakening wilderness. Soon breakfast is served - omelets made to order, blueberry pancakes, sizzling bacon, fresh fruit, toast, and juice are among the treats you'll indulge in each morning. Once you've eaten your fill, you'll pack up your things as the guides break down camp, then our new day's adventure begins.
As we enter the Yampa River canyon, we leave the flatter desert behind, entering a stunning world where rock walls loom above us, rising to heights of 1000 feet. The whitewater also intensifies as the canyon begins; today we challenge three major rapids, not to mention some small but fun riffles.
Our guides might lead a hike to Stubs Cabin, an old cattle rustler homestead dating back to the early 1900s. One hundred years ago, this isolated canyon was used as a hideout by stealthy old-western outlaws, and several abandoned cabins along the river remind us of this shadier side of the Yampa's cowboy history. Other sites we may visit today or tomorrow include Fremont Indian granaries at Mantle Cave, side canyons bejeweled with tumbling streams and waterfalls, and yawning sandstone caves, some of which once housed Pat Lynch, an old hermit who lived out his days along the Yampa River.
For the first two days, we watched the magnificent canyon walls and striking sandstone formations rise up around us, becoming bigger and bolder around every river bend. On the third day, the fascinating geology of this canyon reaches its apex as we float past some of the most astounding rock marvels of all: Grand Overhang, Cleopatra's Couch, and Tiger Wall. The latter is perhaps the most renowned feature of the Yampa River - a sheer cliff wall of pale sandstone, dramatically streaked with jet-black stripes of manganese oxide, or "desert varnish."
Not to be outdone by the scenery, the whitewater is also at its best in this area as we run the well known Warm Springs Rapid. A relatively new rapid, Warm Spring was formed in 1965 when heavy side canyon floods strew boulders across the river, creating the Yampa's biggest whitewater.
Much like the past evenings, we'll make camp on a big, sandy beach that likely allows access to a great hiking trial. If our guides don't arrange a hike, you may want to enjoy a self-guided walk, or perhaps you'd rather just relax and wait for dinner - always a trip highlight, as our day's adventures stir up a hearty appetite. Perhaps this evening you'll enjoy grilled salmon with orange zest, wild rice, and a fresh green salad. Or maybe a lean, juicy steak with mushrooms and mixed vegetables will be the main attraction as we watch the twilight turn to dusk above the canyon walls. A savory dessert usually follows dinner - maybe peach cobbler, strawberry shortcake, or something rich and chocolaty. After our meal is over, the group dynamic of our trip is at its best as we gather around the campfire for nighttime conversation and laughter.
Reaching the confluence with the Green River, we bid farewell to the Yampa, but not to the beauty and whitewater excitement it offered us - both flourish as we continue down the mighty Green. In fact, with the convergence of the two rivers, the whitewater intensifies and presents us with even more consistently exciting rapids than before.
Past the confluence, we round Steamboat Rock and continue into Echo Park. Here we may stop to visit the intriguing Fremont rock art near the side of the river. Or perhaps we'll hike to Whispering Cave, passing magnificent sandstone formations along the way. In Whirlpool Canyon, we might take the longest hike of our trip, following beautiful Jones Hole Creek to amazingly well preserved panels of pictographs and petroglyphs.
After a bit of flat water, we pick up speed as we enter Split Mountain Canyon, the river's gradient becoming considerably steeper. Four or five major rapids deliver plenty of whitewater excitement during our last day on the river. Reaching our take-out point at Split Mountain, we'll take a short ride back to Vernal, returning to the Hatch/ O.A.R.S. warehouse between 4 and 6 PM.
About The Operator:
Angels Camp, CA
O.A.R.S. was the first exclusively oar-powered rafting company permitted to operate trips on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Through our four decades in the adventure travel industry, we have become the largest and most diverse family of river-based adventure travel companies in North America, operating on over 1230 miles of rivers in the continental U.S. In addition to our signature Grand Canyon trips, we offer adventure vacations in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, as well as in British Columbia, Chile, Galapagos, Fiji, Baja and Peru. The heart and soul of O.A.R.S.-from president and founder George Wente to the more than 300 dedicated guides and employees on our team-is that we are all genuinely invested in every passenger, every trip and every lifetime memory.
We consider our O.A.R.S. outdoor adventure guides to be among the best in the industry! Some began their river-guiding careers more than 30 years ago; others were born into it. They are entertainers, historians, geologists, botanists, chefs, medics, anthropologists, event planners, authors, photographers, wilderness pathfinders, and they are the single most complimented component of our organization. Our guides are also professional, playful and ever mindful of your wants and needs, and their enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious. Learn about our guides through reading their detailed biographies, experience and interests.
Our Adventure Consultants and our year-round office staff who provide you with all the trip-specific tips, trip planning assistance and adventure travel trip logistical support have more than 100 years of combined experience in the adventure travel industry, as well as close to 1000 river trips between them.
Your O.A.R.S. Adventure Vacation
You concentrate on fun. We brew the coffee, cook the meals, pump the boats, provide the gear, plan the day, find the best camp spot, and we strive to fill each day with excitement, discovery and the attention to detail you deserve. O.A.R.S. provides the best average guide-to-guest ratio in the adventure travel business (1:4).
You do only what you feel like doing. Want to paddle a ‘ducky' or admire the view from the bow of a boat; go on a day hike or stay in camp and read; save room for dessert or have two pieces of seared salmon? Every day is yours to do with as you please.
Is there any other experience more conducive to creating new, lasting friendships and deepening family bonds than an O.A.R.S. adventure? Our outdoor trips are wonderful equalizers, bringing together like-minded people from diverse backgrounds. Time and again we hear from guests about their joy of having met kindred spirits and new traveling companions. Parents bask in their child's newly-gained confidence in the natural world. Gone are electronic distractions, commutes and deadlines, leaving guests with uninterrupted time to relax, snuggle under the stars, savor a sunset and swap tales around the campfire.
When you join an O.A.R.S. adventure travel trip, you're not just a customer-you are a friend, a member of the crew and an extension of our family-owned and operated company. We'll answer your questions, feed you well, show you a good time and share with you our passion for the world's waterways.
Outdoor adventure vacations are our specialty, and we work hard to provide our guests with the best travel experience of their lives. If part of your trip under our control wasn't everything you expected, we will work with you to make it right.
Environmental stewardship is nothing new to O.A.R.S. We've been at it for four decades. In partnership with our guests, we have contributed more than $3 million in donations and fees toward the preservation of the environment and to environmental and wildlife conservation initiatives. For a detailed account of our environmentally responsible practices, check out our Responsible Travel page.
Don't Just Take Our Word for It
O.A.R.S. has been routinely recognized by adventure industry experts, media and our guests for our commitment to excellence and innovation in travel. In both 2008 and 2009, National Geographic Adventure magazine selected O.A.R.S. as "The Best River & Sea Outfitter on Earth" based on their criteria including education, sustainability, quality of service, spirit of adventure and references. Since 2007, Condé Nast Traveler's Wendy Perrin has recognized our Reservations Manager, Mindy Gleason, as the "Top Travel Specialist" in the River Rafting category for her unique ability to offer O.A.R.S. travelers "the best blend of expertise, access, and good value." Additionally, year after year magazines such as National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Men's Journal and Sunset along with NBC, CNBC, Forbes Traveler and SmarterTravel.com have all recognized O.A.R.S. for serving up some of the "Best Trips on the Planet."