What to expect
Wounded Warriors on Cataract Canyonlands National Park River Trips Itinerary
This itinerary is a typical itinerary and is subject to slight changes. Camp sites on the river are based on availability.
We need you all to be checked in to the motel by mid-afternoon on the day before the launch. Please triple up on rooms if possible. Accommodations are furnished free of charge for you the night before the launch and the evening we get off the river. The code word for check-in is Wounded Warriors.
Beginning at about 6 pm on the evening before the launch, we will meet and
- have a briefing on the trip by your licensed commercial outfitter.
- issue dry bags for your personal gear,
- have a social dinner hosted by the Moab VFW and Elks after the above briefing so you all can meet.
Make ready for a 7:30 am departure the following morning, the day of the launch, by shuttle vehicles from the motel to the Potash Boat Ramp. Be packed up with gear out front of the motel before breakfast.
On the morning of the launch we will load all gear in the shuttle vehicles and board for Potash, about 20 miles downstream of Moab on the Colorado River. Along the way, we make road stops to view petroglyphs. At Potash, the boats will already be in the water and ready to load personal gear.
From Potash we head down the river to a petrified forest for exploration and lunch, and then on to Indian Creek where we may camp if it is open. There are some Anasazi ruins there, and sometimes the water is running in Indian Creek. We’ll round out the day with a dinner and campfire and relaxing under the western night skies and a billion stars.
The second day starts with a full breakfast. If we camp at Indian Creek, and time permitting, there's about a 1 mile hike upstream on Indian creek to a waterfall for those interested in exploring. We may have a shorter second day on the river, and won't have to push off until late morning, leaving time to hike, explore, paddle in one of two inflatable sportyaks (duckies) (water level permitting), or just relax in camp.
On the second day, those who enjoy hiking can take a trail at the Loop and meet up with the rafts about 4 miles downstream, where we will probably stop for lunch. Further down the river, we go through a little ripple at The Slide. Rafters can enjoy getting in the river and going through the Slide in life jackets – for non-swimmers, this is a good chance to get comfortable with being in the water, and relying on the life jacket for floatation. From there, we boat to the Confluence with the Green river, and the flow picks up a little. About 5 miles further is Spanish Bottom, an open basin that may be our second camp. Or maybe camp at Brown Betty. Another night of relaxing, camaraderie, and star-gazing. There may be time to hike to the Land of the Standing Rocks.
On day three we lash down the gear and go through the rapids. There are about 35 rapids interspersed with flat water. The big rapids have catchy names like Satan's Gut, Little Niagara, the Red Wall, the Tail Wave, the Claw, and will provide a memorable thrill for even the most adventuresome rafters.
We will camp in the canyon along the rapids at the end of day three. Early on day 4, June 4, we break camp and head to Hite Marina, and then will be shuttled back to Moab to the motel. That evening the Moab Elks and VFW will cater a meal to us at the Elks Lodge at the end of N. Cermak behind the Moab Rock Shop at 7 pm. The next is a travel day unless you want to linger around Moab.
Canyonlands weather can be unpredictable in the late Spring. Inclement, cold, and wet weather can often occur, so pack accordingly. Nighttime temperatures can dip into the 50s. A dip in the river is a good cool-down if it gets hot; wear your life jacket for safety and warmth and convenience and as required by the Park Service.
This is a no alcohol, no recreational drugs trip. This is due to the policy of our sponsors, and also to know that we can experience an enjoyable trip without them.
Regarding safety and risk: Life jackets must be worn below the Confluence – this is a Park Service regulation. Park Rangers report that no one has ever drowned in Cataract with a life jacket on and properly tightened. Also, there is no reason to go (involuntarily) overboard unless you are being very careless. While it is difficult to predict the river flow in advance as most of the snowpack comes in March-April, we can expect between 10,000 and 45,000 cfs on these trips. While cell phone coverage is spotty from the canyon rim, we have a satellite telephone for contact from any location on the river. The Rangers sometimes patrol the river (it's their favorite duty).
Warriors on Cataract Personal Equipment List
Warm sleeping bag, synthetic better than down because they dry quicker if they get wet (if you have one) Sleeping pad or air mattress, cot if needed. Nights may dip to 50 degrees or lower.
Tent - optional, there are lotsa stars; if it rains, there will be other tents. Bring a ground cloth.
If you are short any of the above, the outfitter can furnish. It can get cool at night, so bring a sweater and jacket
Weather can be changeable in early season, sometimes wet and cold. A rain shell and rain pants and fleece or sweater are needed
Sunscreen, chapstick, lotion for dry skin, sunglasses with Croakie
Quick-dry shorts and long sleeve shirt
Long sleeves of cotton for sunburned arms
Long pants, short pants, hat with tiedown, sunglasses with lanyard or croakie. We will have boonies for all. Extra changes of clothes
Sneakers & hiking boots or shoes, wool socks, shorts River shoes, water sandals, not flip-flops
Waterproof windbreaker shell
Towel, toiletries, medications
Flashlight or headlamp, extra batteries
Camera with extra batteries
Water bottle with your name (we’ll keep it in a cooler for you) DEET, Cutters, or other repellent. There aren’t many bugs.
River Rules and Etiquette
Life jackets: The NPS requires that life jackets be worn at all times while on the boat below the Confluence. Your outfitter will furnish life jackets, and require that they be worn at any time you are in the water. They also give warmth if you are chilled.
Sanitation: #1 directly into the river is the National Park Service Rule. #2 in the portable toilet only.
Streams and pools: Soaps and body oils affect the life in the small streams and pools. No soap or shampoo should be used in these waters. Main stream is OK. Solar showers are available.
Artifacts and rock samples: Nothing in the way of artifacts and rock samples leaves the Park. Indian ruins and artifacts and wall art are Federally protected.
Leaving camp: When we break camp, there should be little sign that we were there. Volunteers should walk the camp site just before launch and make sure that the camp is back to an original state (or better) and nothing has been left behind..
Tipping of the River Guides: It is customary to tip the guides at the end of the trip. Know that this $1500 trip is coming to you without charge. We suggest $100, but know that funds are tight with some of you veterans. So that is just a suggestion.