Rafting and Hiking Cataract Canyon

Destination: Moab, Utah

| Activities: Rafting and Hiking

Cataract is an old fashioned word for waterfall - so you are headed down "Waterfall Canyon" from the safety of a professionally guided woman-powered boat. This section of the Colorado river is a perfect place for beginners or more experienced paddlers - there is something for everyone. This trip is suitable for any woman who is a confident and comfortable swimmer who is enchanted by the magnificent southwest desert. Spend your days basking in the sun on the boat, learning about the geology and history of the red rock canyons as you float peacefully by. After a day or two of learning the rhythms of the river, get your fill of adrenaline through more than 30 white water rapids with names like Mile Long, Ben Hurt and The Big Drop. This stretch is a natural rollercoaster sure to splash a smile onto your face! Spend your nights in the company of new friends trading stories and eating hearty meals. Sleep out under the endless Utah sky or curl up in a cozy two person tent. Spend the last night back in Moab with the comfort of a hot shower and a celebratory farewell dinner. Maximum group size: 19


  • Spend a night at the beginning and end of the trip in world famous Moab, the gateway to adventure in the Southwest
  • Relax on a slow moving section of the Colorado River for the first part of the trip with oar power (never motorized), moving in harmony with the river
  • Float the remote reaches of Canyonlands National Park
  • Unleash your sense of wonder as you navigate breathtaking whitewater rapids
  • Sleep under a brilliant tapestry of stars, swim under red cliffs, and relax on huge sandy beaches


  • Female rafting guides and an Adventures in Good Company group leader
  • Two nights double occupancy accommodation in lodges in Moab
  • Meals from dinner on the first day through breakfast on the last day
  • Basic sleeping kit, which includes a two-person tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, small pillow, rain gear and cup
Not included: Personal gear, alcoholic beverages, personal snacks, guide gratuities, and travel insurance.

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is suitable for any healthy, active woman with good mobility who wants a whitewater rafting trip. The rafts are paddled by certified river guides so you can sit back and enjoy the ride, or try your hand at paddling in a "ducky" (inflatable kayak) or stand up paddle-board. You must have sufficient agility to get in and out of rafts in moving water. No previous rafting or hiking experience is required. All hikes are optional and range from easy strolls to strenuous hikes with significant inclines and declines. While this trip is suitable for a variety of fitness levels, you will have the best time of engaging in all activities if you are prepared for a level 2 trip. Rating: [1] [2] [3] 4 5.

The Cataract Canyon trip down the Colorado River and through the heart of Utah's Canyonland National Park allows you to experience some of the best adventure in the American Southwest. While on the river, the guides wake around 6:00 a.m. to make coffee and begin breakfast preparation. After breakfast, you'll pack up your gear and carry it down to the rafts. While you’re packing your things, the guides are packing up the kitchen, and the groover - the toilet system. Most days you'll push off the beach around 9 a.m. During the day, as weather and conditions permit, you'll make stops to go on short or long hikes to check out various attractions. Some days (especially when it’s hot) we may go on just one short hike, and spend most of our time on the river, moving downstream, swimming, and playing with inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs). Other days we’ll make multiple stops to scout significant rapids. We could travel anywhere from 4 to 24 (or occasionally more) river miles in a single day. Lunch is typically served around midday, usually on shore, but occasionally all our rafts will be tied together for a “floating lunch” on the boats. In the evenings, the guides will set up the kitchen and baño, and maybe play a round of horseshoes with you before starting, serving, and cleaning up dinner. Stay up as late as you want, or hit the tent early and enjoy a good book, a campfire, or contemplating the stars.

We will spend the first and last night in modern lodging in Moab, Utah with hot showers and beds. The rest of our nights will be spent camping on sandy river banks, either out in the open or in comfortable two person tents. There are no showers or formal bathrooms while on the river but each day our guides will set up a "groover" or a portable and private river toilet. We will practice Leave No Trace ethics which means the guides will pack out all of the waste in the leakproof and airtight containers.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Welcome to the desert! Fly into Moab, Utah (CNY) any time today and grab a convenient shuttle on your own to the nearby group hotel where you can check in starting at 4PM. We’ll keep the evening stress free with ordered-in pizza, pasta and salad at our hotel so we can dine while getting to know one another. Our river guides will swing by the hotel tonight for river and packing orientation. Moab is an adventure mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, perfect for exploring if you’re considering extending your trip on your own. There are 2,000 arches and counting in nearby Arches National Park! As Edward Abbey said in his book Desert Solitaire after spending time as a ranger in the national parks of Utah, “Wilderness. The word itself is music.” Overnight Moab lodging (D)
Good morning Moab - nothing like a desert sunrise! After a hearty breakfast at our lodging we’ll load up the vans and drive 90 minutes to the Mineral Bottom boat ramp on the Green River. The final two miles to the put-in spot are steep switchbacks where we’ll stretch our legs and walk down to make the vans lighter and stretch our legs.

The Green River and the Colorado River both flow through Canyonlands National Park where they have formed the park’s canyon mazes and plateaus, unbroken scarps, and iconic sandstone pillars. The Green River merges with the Colorado in the heart of Canyonlands at the Confluence in Cataract Canyon, and from there, the Colorado continues its journey south. We’ll experience these rivers at their finest, from the vantage point of a quiet human powered vessel. Hop in an inflatable kayak or onto a stand-up paddle board (SUP) for some added adventure, or settle in on a guide-oared raft.

We’ll lunch on a sandbar and hike at Fort Bottom where we can visit an old prospector’s cabin or climb the hill to an Ancestral Puebloan lookout tower. Afterwards, we’ll float through magnificent canyon walls, far below hikers and visitors at Dead Horse Point State Park. Overnight camping on river (B, L, D)
Our first full day on the river! A bright dawn light makes the canyon walls glow like red gold. Listen for the descending song of the canyon wren, or paddle your SUP along the shore in search of otters and great blue herons. The river meanders peacefully in this section. Swim alongside the rafts or lounge under an umbrella. We may stop for a hike to a rock art panel or check out Anderson Bottom, an area of interesting settler history. At least seven different families attempted to establish ranches or farms here. They all failed not because the land was infertile but because it was too remote, too hard to supply, and too lonely. Overnight camping on river (B, L, D)
Rinse and repeat! Life on the river is slower and sweeter. Today we’ll get to hike around Turks Head, a dramatic rock outcrop with rich cultural artifacts. Learn to spot granaries (ancient food storage structures) on the cliff walls as we float downstream. (B, L, D)
The Colorado river through Cataract Canyon is considered to be the “King (or in our case ‘Queen’) of Utah River Trips.” Its tranquil start lulls paddlers into a peaceful trance before treating them to thrilling white water rapids later on. Today we’ll reach the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers, believed by some cultures to be the center of the universe. Buckle up your personal flotation device to swim through the line where the two rivers meet if you would like! Make your way back in the boat and get ready for the rapids ahead! Just below the confluence, enjoy a view of the Doll House, a collection of freestanding, sandstone columns. The Doll House is one of the remotest regions of the Maze District of Canyonlands. Today we may hike a mile in an area called The Loop, where we climb up and over a low point in the canyon wall while the rafts travel a full four river miles to reach the same place. Overnight camping on river (B, L, D)
White Water Rapids Day! Optional Hike to the Doll House. Conditions permitting, ambitious hikers may start the day with a hike into the Doll House. It’s a strenuous, 800-foot climb out of the canyon and into a world of white and pink striped sandstone pinnacles. See evidence of the Paradox Formation, the salty remnants of an ancient sea that lies under most of eastern Utah. Ascend steeply to the canyon rim in the Maze District to explore the red and white red rock formations and prehistoric artifacts. Once again on the river, we’ll look forward to the rapids of Cataract Canyon. We’ll stop and scout a few of the big ones, giving plenty of time for the suspense to build. Hold on for the Big Drops: Little Niagara and Satan’s Gut. Another possible hike today is to Clearwater Canyon, a relaxing walk in a deep, sandstone side canyon, past small pools and smooth sandstone ledges. Overnight camping on river (B, L, D)
After a few last rapids, the water calms again, and the canyon walls rise, smooth and majestic. We’re now officially in Lake Powell, although depending on the reservoir level, it may still feel like a river for a long distance. We’ll float under the Hite Narrows Bridge and pull over just beyond the mouth of the Dirty Devil River. A two-hour drive brings us back to the river warehouse. Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Let’s toast to our incredible journey over the past week over a delicious farewell dinner in town. Overnight at lodging in Moab (B, L, D)
After a final breakfast with our new AGC sisters and friends, you are free to fly out at any time today from the Moab airport (CNY) Check out from our hotel is at 11AM. Catch a convenient shuttle on your own from the hotel to the airport. (B)


(11 reviews)
4.6 Food
4.2 Lodging
4.4 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Beth W.
1 year ago

The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. My traveling companions were wonderful. Our river guides were fantastic.

Pamela L.
1 year ago

Scenery, AGC guide Sharon, Holiday guide Susan

Mollie S.
1 year ago

GO!! If you’re comfortable on the water, enjoy sleeping under the stars, want to see an amazing part of our world, while floating down a river, all in the company of interesting women and amazing guides, this is your trip.

Christine T.
1 year ago

Spending time disconnected, enjoying the beauty of the Canyons - great weather, great company fabulous time

Suzann W.
1 year ago

All women travelers and river guides.

Betty R.
1 year ago

Scenery, great guides from Holiday, hiking in Canyonlands. Lastly, fantastic group of women to share this experience.

Sandy G.
1 year ago

To be able to unplug from civilization for a few days. To really enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the canyons, the river and the night sky.

Teri S.
1 year ago

the trip itself was great the guides from Holliday were amazing this trip really did not need an age guide

Diane S.
1 year ago

Solitude in the canyons, leaving life behind at the put in, disconnecting completely. Peace and pure quiet. Super nice and fun group of women.

Catherine B.
1 year ago

The scenery, out in nature, the awesome river guides, good food, the night sky, co-travelers.

Ethel G.
1 year ago

I was taking this trip because it would enable me to be with my long time good friend who I don’t see all the time..

  1. Where do we eat?

    While staying in Moab on the last night we will eat at local restaurants. While we're on the river we will have backcountry gourmet meals. (While we can accommodate a wide range of tastes, participants with severe allergies or restrictions should contact the office before signing up for this trip.) We'll eat picnic lunches along the river and/or trail and have relaxed buffet style breakfasts and dinners at our riverside campsites.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarians are welcome on this trip and will have delicious hearty meals but we cannot guarantee zero cross contamination during food preparation. Some specific dietary needs cannot be accommodated unless supplemental food is brought (i.e. vegan). if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. What about going to the bathroom?

    While on the river, the best place to pee is actually in the river itself, where urine is quickly diluted and does not have as large of an impact as it does if we pee on land. We’ll be traveling through a desert environment where it doesn’t rain very often. Campsites and lunch areas can quickly become stinky and unpleasant if we pee on land. At our campsites, we’ll set up our official “baño”, our portable toilet system, in a discreet, private location. Our baños have regular toilet seats attached to a box. We always set up two baños at each site, one for solid waste and toilet paper, and one for urine. You’ll find toilet paper in a waterproof box within easy reach, and your guides will give you a thorough orientation on the first night of the trip to make sure everyone is comfortable with the system. We also set up a hand washing station to be sure we’re all staying clean and healthy. When we pack up camp in the morning, the baño is the last thing to go, giving you plenty of time to use it after breakfast. And if you need to use the solid waste toilet during the day, it’s easy to unpack and set up in a private location, so please don’t be afraid to ask. Packing out human waste is perhaps the single most important thing we can do to protect these spectacular wilderness areas.
  4. Is there cell phone coverage?

    There is cell phone coverage at the hotels. Cell coverage is non-existent while you are on the river. Your river guides will have access to a satellite phone for OUTGOING calls ONLY in case of an emergency.
  5. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    Singles are not available as you will be in double-occupancy rooms on this trip. On our other trips you only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we'll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.