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.
White Water River Rafting the Green River Gates of Lodore Dinosaur National Monument
Beginning in Brown’s Park, Colorado the Green River Gates of Lodore river rafting adventure takes its travelers on a 44 mile journey through the center of Dinosaur National Monument. This white water river rafting trip is a favorite among veteran river rafters and novices alike. The Green River has a consistent water flow year around, great rapids, beautiful camps a little bit of something for everyone along its way.
Flaming Gorge Dam located up river from the put in point to the Gates of Lodore trip provides a constant water source for this desert river. Because of this constant water supply the Green River is a great rafting trip all summer long. Whether you choose to take this trip in June or August it will be fabulous. The Green River Gates of Lodore has a sister river in Dinosaur National Monument the Yampa River. The Yampa River is one of the last free flowing rivers in the Colorado river system. With its free flowing nature the Yampa River has a limited time frame where it is navigable. The Yampa River has its best rafting Mid May through Mid June during the time of the snow melt from the Colorado Rockies.
Our Green River Gates of Lodore trip begins in Vernal, Utah. We have a pre trip orientation the evening before your trips departure. This orientation gives your group a chance to meet the guides, get your dry bags for the trip and answer any last minute questions. The following morning the bags are loaded and we drive you from Vernal to Brown’s Park where you will meet the guides and begin the river adventure.
At the put in point the crew will direct you on how to most safely travel on a white water rafting trip. Fit you with a PFD or personal flotation device. Help guide each guest on the different white water craft that will be on the trip and give you a short overview of some of the back country travel concepts you will follow on this journey. This orientation takes about 30 to 40 minutes in length depending on your groups size. Once you are loaded on the rafts the journey truly begins. You are free of cell phones, traffic and work getting to relax enjoying some of the most incredible scenery in the state of Colorado and Utah.
As you enter the canyon of Lodore you will experience your first rapid Winnie’s a fun class two rapid with a little excitement to it. The rapids on the Gates of Lodore trip range from Class two to occasionally class four (depending on water levels). On this section of river the rapid classification is based on Class one being calm water to class six being unrunable white water. The most famous rapid on this trip is Hell’s Half Mile a class 3 or class 4 rapid which has been ranked as one of the 10 most famous rapids in North America. Do not let the classification scare you the guides on our trips are very experienced and take every precaution to navigate the white water rapids as safely as possible. The river is a wild place and things can happen that are out of anyone’s control.
The white water is one of the trips highlights but not the only thing that makes it special. The camping and hiking is also phenomenal. Each camp has great swimming, beautiful tent sites and the scenery never stops taking your breath away. At each evenings camp the guides will set up the main camp equipment while you take care of your tent and sleeping gear. Early evening the guides will astound you with a dutch oven dinner and all the extra’s. A typical dinner would begin with appetizers followed by an amazing meal prepared by your guide staff. You will even be surprised by their baking skills when they serve up the evenings desert cooked in a dutch oven under the coals. In the morning the smell of freshly brewed coffee will fill the air. A hearty breakfast will begin your day followed by breaking down camp and preparing the rafts for that days river adventure.
We have talked about camp and rapids but what about hiking? Dinosaur National Monument has some of the most incredible hiking opportunities of any of the National Parks. Your guides based on group interests, weather and assigned camps will lead you on some incredible hikes throughout the trip. A couple of the hikes that are most popular are Jones Hole Creek. This hike can be a 5 mile round trip hike where you will see some fantastic Native American rock art, waterfalls and wildlife. All the while you will be following Jones Creek a beautiful spring fed creek, crystal clear and teaming with trout. In Echo Park your guides will lead you to Whispering Cave (do not forget your headlamp) and to another fine rock art site. Winnie’s Grotto is a short hike with spectacular scenery, this hike is typically a first day lunch stop.
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.
A river rafting adventure is a great way to spend time with your family and friends. First of all, you lose cell phone signal so the office is not calling you and your kids cannot text their friends non-stop. You truly get to unplug from the electronic life. Second who doesn’t want to float beautiful canyons, raft wild rapids and sit around a campfire at night enjoying each other’s company free from distractions. One of the best areas in the United States for a river rafting trip is Dinosaur National Monument. Located in Northeastern Utah crossing over the border into Colorado Dinosaur National Monument is home to the Yampa River and Green River Gates of Lodore two premier white water rafting trips. The Yampa River is the Colorado river systems last undammed tributary. Making this a top choice for river rafters looking for a truly wild river experience. The Yampa River because it is water flow is not controlled by a dam is a spring and early summer river trip. With the spring snow melt the Yampa becomes a great raft trip in mid-May and goes into the middle of June. We recommend taking this trip as a 5-day excursion. This allows ample time to take in the breath-taking scenery of the canyon walls, enjoy the exciting rapids, hike to fabulous vistas. The Yampa River has some great white water rapids rated from class 2 to class 4.
Warm Springs rapid can be one of the biggest and fun rapids in the American west. This rapid some consider to be one of the 10 best drops in North America. Rapids are not the only thing that make this trip great the incredible scenery, wonderful meals, expert guides will all make the Yampa River a trip you will not forget. The Green River Gates of Lodore is an all-around favorite stretch of river to raft. Starting in Browns Park, Colorado the Green River winds its way through the center of Dinosaur National Monument. The Green River starts its long journey in the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming eventually joining the Colorado river. Flaming Gorge Dam controls the water and flows of the Green River through Dinosaur Monument. Because of this water regulation the Gates of Lodore is always a great trip whether you go in June or August you will have fun water and exciting rapids. The Gates of Lodore canyon has some unbelievable geology. The towering red rocks will leave you speechless from there grandeur. Kids love the Green River, camps have fun sandy beaches, great swimming holes and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the inflatable kayak or a stand-up paddle board. Either trip the Yampa River or the Green River Gates of Lodore will take you at least 4 days of perfect unplugged, wilderness river rafting. A few suggestions when looking for a trip like this. First find a reputable outfitter, Dinosaur River Expeditions is the only locally owned and operated outfitter in the region. We have the firsthand knowledge of the area, a rich family history and world class service that makes your trip extra special. When you book a trip with Dinosaur River Expeditions you will work with us the owners we will help you find the right trip and date perfect for your family or group. Call today and find your families next unplugged river rafting adventure.