Utah Rafting Information
Utah's rivers are said to be on the tame side, compared to the giants of Colorado state. But there's nothing tame about the sand waves of the San Juan, the rapids of the Grand Canyon or the technical waters of Cataract Canyon in the arms of the Colorado River. If Colorado is the home of intensity, Utah is definitely the home of diversity.
When making the decision on which river to raft in Utah, keep in mind several things:
Difficulty:Interpretation of the Class system varies nationwide, but generally they're agreed upon by most guides and outfitters.
Class 1: easy, slow-moving currents
Class 2: small waves
Class 3: rapids have medium waves with some technical maneuvers required
Class 4: rapids occur in a faster current, with bigger waves that are technical; scouting is sometimes recommended
Class 5: rapids have a very fast current and large waves; scouting is necessary
Class 6: rapids are dangerous and for the most part, unrunnable, only attempted by professional racing teams
It's important for individuals to understand their limits before agreeing to run a certain section of river. Consider physical abilities, such as how much you exercise at home, and whether you want to be an aggressive paddler before agreeing to join a group on a Class 4 to 5 trip.
When to Go:
Seasons vary in Utah, though generally the best time to go is late April to September. Check with your guide or outfitter, however, to determine the perfect time of year for the particular river you've chosen to raft.
What to Bring:
If travelling with a guide, they usually supply the equipment necessary for a run, whether for a day or a week. If you've decided to run a particular river without a guide, check with local authorities as to whether you'll need a permit or not. Always wear a life jacket and helmet, even if you think you won't need it. A wetsuit, splash top and booties for the feet are a great idea to keep warm and dry, and can be rented from most outfitters. Water sandals or old tennis shoes are a good substitute if you don't want to rent. Bring a fleece top or jacket, as the waters of some of the rivers can be cold. Cotton clothing is not a good idea, so leave the cotton as well as any baseball caps and jewellry back at the car or at home. If you're camping out for a multi-day trip, permits are especially important to obtain as many of the rivers in Utah cross Native American land and private property.
Your guide down a river can be a wonderful source of information and entertainment. Many of the river guides are accomplished cooks and multi-day trips turn into a bonding experience over great food and campfire. Stories, history, tidbits of uncommonly-known information make spending your rafting trip with a guide more than worthwhile.