Green River – Desolation Canyon Trip Details

Where and when to meet:

We’ll meet you at 8:00 pm the evening before the trip begins at the River Terrace Motel (1740 East Main Street) in Green River, Utah. We’ll give you your waterproof dunnage bags, go over final trip and shuttle information, and answer last minute equipment questions. The following morning, (early!) we will reconvene at the airport in Green River for a scenic 35 minute flight to the actual launch site. The time of the flight and directions to the airport will be given at the pre-trip meeting.

How to get there:

Driving: Green River, Utah is located just east of the junction of U.S. Highway 50/70 and State Highway 24 in eastern Utah, about 175 miles southeast of Salt Lake City and 100 miles west of Grand Junction. The River Terrace is located at 1740 East Main Street in downtown Green River, across from the John Wesley Powell River History Museum (well worth a visit). Vehicles will be left at the airport during the trip.

Flying: Delta, United, and American serve Grand Junction, Colorado, about 100 miles east of Green River. Transportation is available between Grand Junction and Green River by renting a car or by chartering a flight with Redtail Aviation (435/259-7421). Ground transportation in Green River should be arranged with your motel, (the River Terrace has been accommodating in the past).

Where to Stay:

Lodging before and after the trip is good at the River Terrace, 435/564-3401 or the Holiday Inn Express Green River. Camping is available at the Green River State Park just south of town, 435/564-3633.

What we provide:

  • A scenic flight from Green River to the launch site at Sand Wash.
  • Transportation from the river back to Green River.
  • Friendly, professional guide service.
  • All meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last day.
  • All camping gear (freshly laundered sleeping bag, liner, self-inflating pad, two-person tent).
  • Waterproof bags, lifejackets, and other specialized river touring equipment for the trip.
  • Camp chair, plate, eating utensils and mug.
  • All taxes and government access fees

What you are responsible for:

  • Meals and lodging before and after your trip
  • Personal clothing and other miscellaneous items (see Equipment List for details)
  • Soda, wine, alcoholic beverages (see below)
  • Guides gratuities (see below)


Day 1: We will reconvene early in the morning at the airport in Green River and take a scenic 40-minute flight to the launch site at Sand Wash. We’ll land on a mesa above the river and take a short downhill hike to our rafts at the boat ramp. After a thorough safety briefing and trip orientation, we will launch and begin our adventure down the Green. The first day has no rapids, giving us time to get accustomed to our boats and ease into the rhythm of the trip.
Days 2 – 5: A typical day on the Green starts with coffee and a hearty breakfast before we pack our bags and load on to the boats. We will float an average of 12 – 18 miles, (4 – 5 hours), each day, stopping for a picnic lunch and perhaps to take a short hike or look at an historical site. The canyon contains extensive petroglyphs and a couple of abandoned ranches and was a favored hideout for Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch; there are plenty of places to explore. The rapids build in frequency and difficulty as we head downstream, with the biggest rapids coming on days 4 and 5. Camp will be made in the late afternoon with early evening available for hiking, swimming or relaxing.
Day 6:  Our last day on the Green will bring us slowly back into civilization. We’ll run some rapids in the morning and then have lunch before an early afternoon take-out at Swaysey’s Boat Ramp and a short van ride back to our vehicles at the Green River airport

Additional Information:

Types of boats: In Desolation Canyon we offer two types of boats in which to ride:

Oar rafts are 18 feet long, carry all of the overnight gear and up to 5 guests. They are rowed by a guide using oars attached to a metal frame. You ride in the front, hang on through the rapids and relax in the calm stretches.

Inflatable kayaks are 10 – 12 feet long and are paddled by 1 or 2 people using double-bladed paddles. They are fairly stable, require no previous experience, and allow you to feel the thrill of independently paddling the river.

You can learn more about the type of boats we use here.

Please note that we do not guarantee space in the inflatable kayaks.  We’ll bring as many as we can, but if there are more people who wish to ride in the inflatable kayaks than there are spaces, we will rotate so that everyone gets a chance to participate. 

Meals and Drinks:  ARTA meals are well-balanced and consist of quality foods with fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. Guides double as camp chefs and the menu includes a wide variety of dishes. Lunches consist of hand-foods and are served picnic-style at riverside stops. Dinners and breakfasts are cooked over an open fire and often include tasty Dutch Oven baked treats. If you have special dietary requirements or are celebrating a special event during the trip, please let us know in advance. We will provide water, lemonade, and juice during the day and hot coffee, tea, and cocoa in the morning.. If you would like soda, beer, wine, or liquor with your dinner, please bring your own in unbreakable containers (beer and soda in cans, wine and liquor in plastic bottles). Due to weight and space restrictions on the flight in, you must limit the amount of canned drinks to 1 six-pack per person.

Camping: Overnight camping will be done at riverside beaches with spectacular views of the river and canyon. There is usually a central kitchen and campfire area and guests pick out spots in the surrounding area to pitch their tents or lay out their sleeping bags. We will provide portable toilet facilities. Dinner is served in the evening and the campfire is often kept burning into the night for music and story-telling.

Weather: The weather along the Green River is usually sunny and hot with highs in the 90’s during the day and lows in the 60’s at night. The sun can be intense for those not used to it and lightweight cotton clothing, (synthetic, long-sleeved shirts, lightweight cotton pants, old dress shirts, etc.), and sunscreen along with a wide-brimmed hat should be worn. The water temperature is cool in June and warm in July and August, but always provides a refreshing way to cool off. Wet, loose-fitting clothing and a wet hat provide natural air conditioning and help keep you cool. Rain, usually in the form of short thunderstorms, can occur at any time and good rain protection for both day and night (rainshell and tent) are advised. Desolation Canyon often experiences strong, afternoon winds, (always upstream), and our time on the river reflects this – expect early morning departures and early afternoon arrivals in camp.

Wildlife: Mule deer and big horn sheep inhabit the canyons and bird life is plentiful. Hawks, golden eagles, Canada Geese, falcons, and a wide assortment of smaller birds are commonly seen.

Fishing: Fishing in the Green River is not very good. There are two notable sidestreams, Ranch Creek and Range Creek, where we may stop and have an opportunity to fish for small trout. A Utah fishing license is required and should be obtained in Green River before the trip. Ultra-lightweight spinning or dry fly gear works best. Bring the minimum in a sturdy case.

Local Attractions: Within a day’s drive of Green River are Canyonlands, Arches, Capital Reef, Canyon de Chelley, and Mesa Verde National Parks as well as the town of Moab, the outdoor recreation capital of southern Utah. Desolation Canyon trips make a nice, slow-paced addition to an extended road trip to the area’s iconic parks.

Travel Insurance: Because life is full of surprises, we suggest you consider purchasing supplemental travel insurance for your trip. Trip cancellation, evacuation, baggage loss and other coverages are available for between 8% and 15% of your trip cost. You can get more information through ASI Travel Insurance Services (please select American River Touring Association from the drop down menu).

Gratuities: If you truly enjoy your trip, tipping is a great way to show your appreciation. Tipping is optional and personal, but since a lot of people ask, a customary amount is between 10 and 15 percent of the trip cost. Tips can be given to the Lead Guide who will share them with the entire crew. And the entire crew will appreciate them and put them to good use. (And thank you.)

More information:

A pdf of these trip details (along with more information about what to expect on your trip) can be found and downloaded here.

If you still have questions, please feel free to call us (209-962-7873) or e-mail us ( We love to talk about our trips!