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On the Colorado River northeast of Arches and very near Moab you can take one of America's most scenic—yet unintimidating—river-raft rides. This is the perfect place to take the family or to learn to kayak with the help of an outfitter. The river rolls by the red Fisher Towers as they rise into the sky in front of the La Sal Mountains. A day trip on this stretch of the river will take you about 15 miles. Outfitters offer full-, half-, or multiday adventures here.
White-water adventures await more adventuresome rafters both upstream and down. Upriver, in narrow, winding Westwater Canyon near the Utah–Colorado border, the Colorado River cuts through the oldest exposed geologic layer on Earth. The result is craggy black granite jutting out of the water with red sandstone walls towering above. This section of the river is rocky and considered highly technical for rafters and kayakers, but it dishes out a great white-water experience in a short period of time. Most outfitters offer this trip as a one-day getaway, but you may also linger in the canyon as long as three days to complete the journey. A permit is required from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Moab to run Westwater Canyon. Heart-stopping multiday trips through Cataract Canyon are for folks ready for a real adventure. The longer the trip, the earlier you should book it.
Canyon Voyages Adventure Co.. Since 1991, Canyon Voyages has been an excellent choice for rafting or kayaking adventures on the Colorado or Green rivers. Don and Denise Oblak run a friendly, professional company that's open year-round. While the majority of their customers take one-day trips, they also offer multiday itineraries, guided tours, and rentals. It's also the only company that operates a kayak school for those who want to learn how to run the rapids on their own. Ask about stand-up paddleboarding, biking, and horseback riding, too. Inside the booking office is a great shop that sells outdoor essentials, including clothing, hats, footwear, and backpacks. 211 N. Main St., Moab, UT, 84532. 435/259–6007 or 800/733–6007. www.canyonvoyages.com.
Holiday River Expeditions. Since 1966, Holiday River Expeditions has offered one- to eight-day adventures on the Green and Colorado rivers, including inside Canyonlands National Park. Located behind the Comfort Inn in Green River, they also offer multisport trips, women's retreats, and bike adventures including the White Rim Trail. 2075 E. Main St., Green River, UT, 84525. 435/564–3273 or 800/624–6323. www.bikeraft.com.
Sheri Griffith Expeditions. Moab outfitter Sheri Griffith Expeditions has offered trips through the white water of Cataract, Westwater, and Desolation canyons, on the Colorado and Green rivers since 1971. Specialty expeditions include river trips for women, writers, and families. You might also enjoy one of their more luxurious expeditions, which make roughing it a little more comfortable. 2231 S. U.S. 191, Moab, UT, 84532. 435/259–8229 or 800/332–2439. www.griffithexp.com.
Tex's Riverways. The knowledgeable folks at Tex's Riverways shuttle hikers and boaters up, down, to, and from the Green and Colorado rivers. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, and gear from coolers to portable toilets (which are required on Utah rivers) for your backpacking or river adventure. Friendly expert advice based on more than 50 years of experience is included, but Tex's doesn't do guided tours. 691 N. 500 W, Moab, UT, 84532. 435/259–5101 or 877/662–2839. www.texsriverways.com.