The weather is improving and perhaps you are already thinking of where to get out and experience the great outdoors. Of course, there are many choices and today I will outline a few locations you might consider.
Some of you enjoy really getting into the wild with river cruising by float boat, paddle rafts, oar rafts, and inflatable kayaks. There are adventure companies that will escort you through some of the roughest country in the west and I will name them at the end of this article.
These companies will take you, your family and groups on river excursions with rather safe methods furnishing food, equipment, sleeping gear and knowledge of the countryside traversed. What should be your destination? Here are some ideas:
Cataract Canyon is a legendary gorge buried in the heart of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Here you can raft to grottos, waterfalls and ancient Pueblo ruins that are otherwise inaccessible. The experience will take five or six days. The river current will slide you by brilliantly colored cliffs and towering mesas. On river night three, the Colorado River will not rest. The roar of the cataracts will lull you to sleep then wake you in the morning. The fourth day your guide will ask all in the party to batten down and hold on as you shoot through 23 rushing rapids — one a mile long — hurtling you forward on the river. You will get 30 feet closer to sea level in less than a mile. What a ride!
Westwater, often called a miniature Grand Canyon, is a segment of the Colorado River and a stunning wilderness area you can enjoy in a two- or three-day rafting trip. You’ll see beaches, side canyons, and campsites. Whitewater shows up on the last day of the trip. If you choose the three-day trip you have the opportunity to go one-on-one with the Colorado River in an inflatable kayak.
Another experience is called “Gates of Ladore” — a four-day trip through an area first encountered by John Wesley Powell and his men on their 1889 expedition. His adventures live on in the rapids he named: Disaster Falls, Triplet Falls and Hells Half Mile. This national monument is a sanctuary for bighorn sheep, deer and river otters. This is an ideal area to try out in a guided paddle raft. Have fun!
The Yampa River is wild! This is the last undammed river in the Colorado River system. It has, to date, defied many attempts to dam its free flow. It has, in the past, torn out dams and presently is dam free. If you feel the need to try something rare and wild, this is the one. You travel through falls, prehistoric rock art, caves, and 46 of the trip’s 71 miles are on the Yampa, and then you merge with the Green River and Split Mountain Gorge. This is a four- to five-day trip.
Desolation Canyon on Green River is a five- and six-day experience using rafts. Desolation Canyon plunges 5,000 feet down into the Tavaputs Plateau to cradle the Green River. Here is a million acres of wilderness. Along the river are cottonwood trees, sandy beaches and side streams that are tempting to explore. You’ll see Indian petroglyphs that mark the end of a civilization. On this trip you will have time for hiking, swimming, kayaking and simply a lot of fun.
The San Juan River flows through Navajoland. The three- and four-day trip covers Indian ruins and exciting rapids. Your guide will lead you through side canyons, to desert oasis swimming pools and the canyon rim for vistas of Monument Valley. You will think you are in a John Wayne movie. On this trip you pass through 83 miles of thrilling scenery, small rapids, roller coaster waves and adventure.
The Salmon River in Idaho is known as the River of No Return. This is a wild river running through 20,000 square miles of rough country. Cutting the second deepest canyon in North America. The Salmon River runs through pine forests and sandy beaches. It is full of pioneer homesteads and natural hot springs. You may see bighorn sheep, moose, eagles, elk, bear and river otter. This five- or six-day trip will allow you to experience whitewater on each day of the trip.
You fly from Boise to Salmon, Idaho by scenic flight, which is the starting point for your river trip.
The Lower Salmon River takes four days. Guides take you through four exciting canyons — Green, Cougar, Snowhole and Blue Canyons. High water gives you standing waves and powerful current through the rapids. Later in the summer, the river calms down for better family travel to sandy beaches, and roller coaster-wave rapids. The Salmon joins the Snake River for the last 20 miles of the trip.
Utah offers wonderful family experiences by driving through scenic backroads and glorious mountains. Wildlife is in abundance and great for children to get up close to see what the wilds are all about. Highlights include: the Flaming Gorge area, five state and national wildlife refuges, Dinosaur National Monument, the Book Cliffs and the slopes of the Uinta, Diamond and Blue mountains. Here can be seen elk, deer, moose, Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, goats, black bear, osprey, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and roughly 350 other vertebrate species. Numerous paved and gravel roads provide countless viewing opportunities. The fishing is fantastic all through the wilderness in the streams and rivers. Here also are campsites you and the family will enjoy.
Many find Duchesne County along Highway 40 of interest. Habiona and Hanna are now only 60 minutes away from Park City as the Wolf Creek Pass has been completed and opened. Duchesne City is the gateway to Starvation State Park and Reservoir. Myton Town is the gateway to 9-mile Canyon and a pass through well-preserved fossils, ancient ruins and petroglyphs. Western Duchesne County is the home to the largest piñon pine forest in the world. You think you have found a bit of heaven here.
For resorts in Duchesne County check out Falcon’s Ledge, Hidden Springs, Moon Lake Resort, Camelot, Six Lakes, LC Ranch and Rock Creek Ranch. You’ll find them on the Web.
If you are into motor sports, try Diamond Mountain Speedway in Utah County for stock car racing which begins in mid-April. There is also a motocross track, ATV Baja course, mud bogs, as well as an open ride area for ATVs.
In July there is the Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo. Visit firstname.lastname@example.org. It always delivers exciting cowboy events.
Hurricane Sands is a premier location for Jeep and ATV tours close to Zion National Park. You climb 2,500 feet during this tour, which is available in 2-, 3-, 4- or 5-hour ATV tours or 2- and 3-hour Jeep tour packages. Phone 1-888-848-ZCAT for information, directions and rates.
This same company offers Southern Utah tours of Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon that begin in Las Vegas, Nev. Phone 1-888-848-ZCAT.
If you are mountain bike fan, call 1-800 860-6460 or visit www.mountainbikebuddies.com. This company will also escort you to rock climbing adventures.
So, whether you want river rafting, mounting biking, camping, fishing, ATV adventures, you name it, it’s all in the West and nearby.
The following are some of the companies that will fulfill your needs for river experiences: Adventure Bound, 1-800-423-4668; Western River Expeditions, 1-800-453-7450; Holiday River Expeditions, 1-800-624-6323; and Sheri Griffith Expeditions, 1-800-332-2439.