We'll meet you at 8:00 pm the evening before your trip begins at the Microtel Inn and Suites in Vernal, Utah (technically Naples, UT) 435/781-8141. We'll give you your waterproof bags, go over final trip logistics and answer any last minute questions. The following morning we will reconvene at Split Mountain Boat Ramp in Dinosaur National Monument for the shuttle to the launch site. The lead guide will have directions and times. The trip will conclude at Split Mountain around 3:00 p.m. on the last day.
Vernal is on State Highway 40, approximately 180 miles, (3 hours), east of Salt Lake City. The Microtel Inn is towards the eastern end of town. Directions to Split Mountain Boat Ramp, (30 minutes outside of town), will be given at the pre-trip meeting. There is a fee to enter the Park and vehicles will be left at the Boat Ramp for the duration of the trip.
Flying: You can fly directly into Vernal via Salt Lake City or Denver on Boutique Air. Or you can fly into Salt Lake City and rent a car for the 3 hour drive to Vernal. For transportation between the airport and your motel contact your motel or Wilkin's Transportation (435-789-2476). If you fly directly into Vernal and do not have a car for the drive to Split Mountain Boat Ramp, you can either pre-arrange a drop off and pick up with Wilkin's, or you can arrange to carpool with a fellow guest at the pre-trip meeting.
Lodging in Vernal is good at the Microtel Inn and Suites (435/781-8141); if you mention you are an ARTA guest you should receive a special discounted room rate. A few minutes away in downtown Vernal are the Holiday Inn Express, (435/789-4654) and the Springhill Suites (435/781-9000). Camping is available in Dinosaur National Monument, 30 minutes from Vernal; campsites in Split Mountain or Green River Campgrounds can be reserved through www.recreation.gov.
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. Guests ride in the front, hang on through the rapids and relax in the calm stretches.
Paddle rafts are 14 feet long and carry 6 paddlers who actively paddle through the rapids and down the river. Everyone has a paddle, sits on the outer tube of the raft and follows the commands of the paddle guide who sits in the rear.
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.
Please note that we do not guarantee space in paddle rafts or inflatable kayaks. If there are more people who wish to ride in these boats than there are spaces, we will rotate so that everyone gets a chance to participate. Paddle rafts and inflatable kayaks are only available at appropriate flows and with sufficient interest.
Meals: ARTA meals are well-balanced and consist of quality foods with fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. The guides double as camp chefs and the menu includes a wide variety of dishes. Lunches usually 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.
Drinks: ARTA provides water, lemonade and punch 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 in bags/boxes or plastic bottles and liquor in plastic bottles). Due to weight and space restrictions, we ask that you limit the amount of canned drinks to a moderate amount (one or two six-packs 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.
Weather: The high desert country of the Yampa River canyon enjoys daytime temperatures in the 80's and 90's, cooling off into the 60's at night, with occasional thunderstorms. The early summer weather is unpredictable and subject to sudden changes. The sunshine can be direct and hot while on the rafts; afternoon thunderstorms can produce dramatic and sometimes intense rainfall; and shady stretches late in the day can be chilly. It is common to wear sunblock and a fleece jacket on the same day. The water is snowmelt and quite cold, although it does warm up a bit by July.
Wildlife: Bighorn sheep and mule deer inhabit the Yampa River canyon and occasionally we spot them along shore or while hiking. The canyon is also home to bobcats, beavers, otters, muskrat, badgers, skunks and ringtail cats. Birdlife is fairly abundant and we usually see hawks, falcons, geese and a wide assortment of smaller birds. Bring a small pair of binoculars and your camera.
Fishing: Due to the flow fluctuations and water clarity, fishing in the Yampa is not that good; however Jones Creek, where we arrive on the fourth day, has very good fishing opportunities. A valid Utah license is required and can be obtained in Vernal prior to the trip. Light spinning or fly gear works best, (artificial lures and flies only), please bring the minimum and protect your rod in a sturdy case.
Local Attractions: Dinosaur National Monument contains one of the largest concentrations of Dinosaur remains in the world and the Visitors Center has a museum where you can touch real dinosaur bones. Also within a day's drive of Vernal are Canyonlands and Arches National Parks as well as Flaming Gorge Recreation Area.
Suggested Reading: Yampa trips take place within Dinosaur National Monument and there are numerous books available about the area. Some of the more interesting ones are Buzz Belknap's Dinosaur River Guide, Vince Welch's The Doing of the Thing, and Explorations of the Colorado River by Major John Wesley Powell, (detailing his historic 1869 first exploration). These and other books about Dinosaur National Monument are available online or in Vernal at Bittercreek Books on West Main Street.
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 4% and 11% of your trip cost. You can get more information at www.travelinsure.com; please enter ARTA's Participating Organization Number (215296) at the top of the enrollment form.
Gratuities: We want you to feel like a guest in our home. But if you feel that your guides did an outstanding job, a post-trip gratuity is a flattering way to let them know. Tips should be based on your satisfaction, your financial means and your attitude about tipping. Tips typically range anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the trip cost, (with the occasional recommended book or coveted hat thrown in). It is customary within ARTA to give the tip to the Lead Guide who will distribute it equally amongst all of the staff. And thank you very much.
If there are any questions we haven't answered, please feel free to contact us. We really enjoy talking about our trips, so don't hesitate to call: 800-323-2782.
The Yampa is the last major free-flowing tributary in the entire Colorado River system. From its origins high in the Rockies the Yampa flows uninterrupted for nearly 300 miles down forested slopes and through sandstone canyons to its confluence with the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. Our trips travel the last 46 miles of the Yampa and another 26 miles of the Green.
The canyon has a mysterious history. It has been home to a number of Indian cultures whose rock art and granaries still remain, but about whom little is known. Few settlers inhabited the canyon and it was only briefly explored by Major John Wesley Powell during his famous exploratory trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869. Even today few people visit the area, as impassible terrain and the short, snow-melt season provide limited access.
Our trips offer the special opportunity to see the softly colored, exotically streaked, sandstone walls for which the Yampa is famous. The towering cliffs crowd the river, then open up into large, amphitheater-like parks which are alive with spring growth and color. Hidden throughout the journey are intriguing side-canyons and grottoes which beckon and astound the explorer. The Yampa is mostly placid, but occasionally erupts into chaotic stretches of whitewater, including the formidable Warm Springs. Below the confluence with the Green the combined rivers flow through Echo Park and the beautiful Whirlpool Canyon before making a wild dash through the numerous rapids of Split Mountain Canyon.