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Trip Report Four day rafting trip on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument

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Over the past Memorial Day weekend I experienced a terrific four day raft trip on the Yampa River (eventually joining the Green River) floating through Dinosaur National Monument. I traveled with Dinosaur River Expeditions: http://www.dinosaurriverexpeditions.com/
which is based in Vernal, Utah and the owners,Tyler and Jen Callantine and all the guides merit the highest praise for their professionalism and attention to making my experience and that of all the participants a wonderful experience. There was a total of 21 participants, including Tyler, Jen and the other guides, the "passengers, " myself included, on five oar boat rafts (along with an eclectic collection of 7 inflatable individual watercraft, kayaks, "ducks" and a paddleboard (a surfboard with a paddle). We left the Vernal office early Friday morning by bus for the nearly two hour trip to the launch point on the Yampa in Colorado and were on the river by midmorning.
The trip on the Yampa River (and eventually the Green River) was a total of 71 miles and most of the time the water is placid although there were stretchs of white water each day of the trip. The individual craft, the "ducks" and kayaks, were heavily used by most of our group; particularly by the four teenagers in our group but their enthusiasm was equally matched by many of the older participants. I was the oldest person on the trip (66) but there was a couple in their fifties and another probably in their forties. No, I skipped the duck experience but most of our group did try them and some spent most of the trip, rapids included in these one person boats.
The food was very good; the variety, high quality and freshness of everything was impressive considering everything had to be packed for four days of river travel in the wilderness; lunches were a mix of deli spread sandwhich buffets and salads; suppers featured fajita style tacos one evening, spaghetti with meat sauce and salad one evening and marinated pork tenderloin and chicken roasted in foil over charcoal fire featured the next evening. I give special mention to the deserts prepared each evening peach cobbler made in a dutch oven by the guide on my raft, Josh Gondek, and the yellow cake with chocolate icing also made in a dutch oven over the campfire made by Tyler. Both were terrific. Fresh fruits were always included with the meals.
At night we camped along the river in tents. The camp sites are assigned by the National Park people and the second night we drew a very poor assignment; a very rocky and windy landing point that greatly endangered the guides as it took fook at least four people in the rock strewen and very fast flowing river to pull the rafts over the rocks into the landing area. Fortunately no one was hurt . The first couple of days the wind was a problem; the guides said it was the worst they had ever experienced on the trip The temperatures were pleasant, in the '70's I think and in the sun it was quite nice. Late in the day, splashed with water and in the shade of the awesome towering cliffs that often lined the river I did get chilled and would pull a jacket from my day bag (a small rubberised waterproof bag holding items one might need for day use, jacket, rain gear and the like). The last night was the best, an easy landing for the rafts on a sandy beach and campsites spread among groves of trees. At this site there was a two mile hike up to a waterfall with some stunning Indian pictographs on the canyon walls. Unfortunately I had to chose to skip this hike as a knee was bothering me and I didn't trust my ability to go that far uphill.
The scenery on the trip is simply fantastic, towering cliffs and mesas, dozens of Big Horn Sheep scampering about the rocks, all of it visitable only by water travel (I am ignoring with that comment the possibility of using a helicopter) as there are very few roads even of the most primitive type in these canyon areas. To see these canyons basically one travels by raft or oar boat (no motors allowed).
I particularly want give credit to the guide on my raft, Josh Gondek, who was always in terrific spirits even when laboring rowing the raft against extreme wind and who provided a wealth of information about the geaolgy and history of the river canyons.
In summary; I had a great time. Thank you Tyler, Jen, Josh, Nate and all the other guides and the wonderful folk who made up our group on this trip.

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