Snowpack Points To Bodacious White-Water Rafting Season In Southwestern National Parks

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The prospect of high water will make Cataract Canyon float trips this spring packed with excitement. Holiday River Expeditions photo.

With March typically one of the snowier months of the year in the Rocky Mountains, the coming summer float season on rivers through Dinosaur National Monument, Canyonlands National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park will be something to rave about.

Already snowpack in the mountains that funnel snowmelt into the rivers ranges between 80 and 120 percent of normal, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. With more yet to come, the Yampa and Green rivers in Dinosaur and the Colorado through Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands and through the basement of the Grand Canyon figure not to disappoint river runners looking for frothing rapids.

At Holiday River Expeditions (1.800.624.6323), which runs multi-day trips through Cataract Canyon, the prospect of high water through Cataract dubs these trips for experienced river runners at least age 16. Their five-day trips, in May and June, run $1,065 per adult and $925 for youth 18 and under, as well as groups of 10 or more.

Tell them the Traveler sent you and they'll take 15 percent off those rates if you act by March 21.

Not only does high water mean these trips will offer lots of thrills, but it also means more time for hiking because the water will be pushing you down river faster than usual. Rather than rushing down the river, Holiday River, the only company that still runs entirely non-motorized trips in Cataract Canyon, sticks to its campsite plans. As a result, you might get to camp earlier than usual, which means more time to hike up into the landscape.

And since it's springtime, the wildflowers will be out and the temps cooler than the 100-degree-pushing days of July and August.

Other outfitters that run these rivers include O.A.R.S. and Wilderness River Adventures.