Best Time of Year to Raft!
The time of year you book your river trip will have a dramatic impact on what your trip is like, choosing the right time for you, will help give the trip you are looking for.
Late May to early June is a beautiful time of year in Dinosaur National Monument.
The blooming desert flowers and cooler temperatures make for a very scenic trip. It is also the only time of year you can commercially run the Yampa River. The Yampa River is a free-flowing river, meaning there are no dam controls so the amount of water in the river rises the more the snow melts, and as the season goes on the river becomes too low to raft. If you want to see the beautiful white sandstone and archaeological history of the Yampa River, be sure to go on a spring trip.
The other consideration when booking early season trips is the higher spring water levels means a more thrilling white-water adventure. The Yampa has large stretches of flat water, but also big challenging rapids, with water levels typically peaking around the first of June. Due to its free-flowing nature gauging how big the rapids will be, is dependant how much snow the Colorado mountains get throughout the winter. More snow equals more water, more water means bigger rapids, bigger rapids mean a more thrilling ride. If you are dying to go down the Yampa, but skeptical about the larger rapids, aim for an late May trip or a low snowpack year. It’s difficult to predict when the Yampa will hit peak water flows, but typically May is a bit lower. If you are looking for a big whitewater adventure aim for an early June trip.
The Green River also historically has higher flows in the spring. The US Fish and Wildlife encourage Flaming Gorge Dam to simulate a spring flood stages to que the native fish to start spawning. The Gates of Lodore section of the Green River is another great option for a thrilling ride in the early season. Again, the flows are difficult to say until just a few weeks before the launch date, but as a general rule of thumb, watch the Wyoming snowfall and look to the month of June for the most water for a Gates of Lodore trip.
As the season goes on the water levels will taper off and the river becomes a more family friendly place. July and August are great mid level rafting trip on the Green river. The flows are typically friendly enough to let tweens and early teens try their luck on one of our inflatable kayaks in whitewater and the air temperature rises making the cold river water refreshing. The rapids are thrilling and splashy but not quite as intimidating as an early season Yampa or Lodore. The lower water opens up more sandy beaches for kids to play on and enjoy swimming. If you are looking for a trip for you and your family, late June, July and August are the perfect time of year.
Ultimately the time you choose to book your river trip depends on what you are looking for. The river canyons are beautiful no matter the time of year; families with kids typically have more fun later in the season and late teens and adult groups have a great time with the early season high water flows.