The Yampa River is one of the most prized stretches of river in the American West. The Yampa River received its name from the Snake Indians word for the Perideridia plant “Yampah”. The plant was found abundant in the watershed. The headwaters of the Yampa River are in the Park Range of Colorado near the town of Steamboat Springs. From its starting point the Yampa River takes a westward course towards Dinosaur National Monument stretching an approximate 250 miles till it joins the Green River in Echo Park. The Yampa drains 7,660 square miles of area in northwestern Colorado and a small area in Wyoming. The river is mostly fed from snow melt and has a small window of time when it is a navigable river way for recreation. It is one of the last free flowing rivers that has only a few small diversions and dams along its course and tributaries. Because of its natural free flowing characteristic people boat many different sections of the Yampa but the most popular is through Dinosaur National Monument. The put in point is at Deer Lodge, Colorado to the take out point 72 miles downstream at Split Mountain, Utah. Taking 4 to 6 days in length to raft, camp, hike and explore this incredible section of wild river.
Through Dinosaur National Monument the river flows through a productive riparian zone supporting a variety of plant and animal life. The rivers natural state makes it an ideal habitat for many of the Colorado river systems native fish. Some of the fish are endangered and rely heavily on the Yampa River for spawning and habitat. The primary native fish that rely on the river is the Colorado Pike-minnow which uses the gravel bars for spawning in the late spring and early summer months.
The area has a rich human history archaeological studies conducted in the area reveal evidence of human habitation up to 7000 B.C. The Fremont culture inhabited the Yampa River area starting about 800 A.D. but disappeared for unknown reasons during the 1400’s. There are many cultural sites that can be visited along the river where you will see petroglyphs and other important archaeological evidence of the areas early human inhabitants.
Through erosion 23 unique rock layers have been exposed in Dinosaur National Monument. These geologic features create a landscape that is unbelievable in its scenic beauty. The Green River flowing through the Gates of Lodore and the Yampa River through steady down cutting have revealed rock formations that have been twisted, folded and formed during the past 2 billion years. These rock layers are the remnants of extinct ecosystems spanning 1.2 billion years from ancient seas, the time of the dinosaurs to a Sahara like desert. These rock layers make up one of the most complete stratigraphic columns exposed within a National Park.
The white water rapids on the Yampa River range from small splashy waves to one of the biggest rapids in the Colorado River system Warm Springs Rapid. The rapids are thrilling and fun for everyone on a raft trip, guides are highly skilled and well trained to navigate the many drops encountered along the way. The most noted rapid on the Yampa River is Warm Springs. Before 1965 it was nothing but a ripple, an unimportant spot that had little significance other than beautiful scenery. This all changed overnight on June 10th, 1965 when a major thunderstorm came through northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado. This storm caused major flash floods filling the river bed with boulders and debris that changed a once tepid riffle into one of the most talked about drops on the Colorado river system. Warm Springs rapid with all the lore and hype is a highlight on the Yampa River and a rapid that you will talk about for years after going through it on a raft.
Camping on the Yampa River is phenomenal with spectacular views and beautiful shorelines for relaxing. Camp is set up and taken care of by the expert guide staff who will prepare delicious meals and cater to most of your camping needs.
The Yampa River has a limited availability and trips fill up quickly. This adventure is great for families, groups or individuals and has something to suit everyone from exciting white water to stunning scenery. This is a vacation to add to your bucket list and see at least once in your lifetime. Choose Dinosaur River Expeditions Vernal, Utah’s only locally owned and operated river raft trip outfitter.