Westwater Canyon


Westwater Ranger Station to
Cisco Landing
  • 53 river miles
  • Class I to IV

National Geographic labeled Westwater Canyon as "the West's Best Short White Water Rafting Trip." The 17-mile river stretch contains 11 class 3-4 rapids, plus numerous less-challenging rapids. Often called a miniature Grand Canyon , this segment of the Colorado River is the answer for the person who is short on time but wants it all...a wilderness canyon with breathtaking geological formations and world class whitewater. Depending upon water level and trip length, you will see from eighteen to fifty miles of the Colorado 's finest beaches, side canyons, and campsites.

Rafting on the Colorada River through Westwater Canyon

Pre-historic Native Americas (probably Fremont) left 800 year old rock art along the canyon walls. Little is known about the Fremont culture because they were nomadic, and other than their rock art, left very little behind.

Few white men settled here, and fewer wrote about it. There are many legends leaving questions about the facts. Downstream of the now abandoned town of Westwater and current Westwater Ranger Station, the legends and rumors begin at a gold miner's cabin, an outlaw cave and a secret grave a half mile from the cave. The abandoned Miner's Cabin, once referred to as Outlaw Cabin, appears to have been used by placer miners looking for gold in the late 1800's or early 1900's. Further down stream the Outlaw Cave also has a clouded history surrounding it. Many stories abound about two outlaw brothers who robbed a bank and hid in the cave to escape the law. Other stories claim that it is an old mining claim. The truth about the Miner's Cabin and the Outlaw Cave may never be known.

Many of these stories come from the boatmen who ran Westwater Canyon . The first to challenge Westwater's famous rapids were two highly experienced and well-known river runners, Bert Loper and Ellsworth Kolb, in 1916. By the mid-1950's, running Westwater Canyon had become commonplace and today is one of the most popular river stretches in Utah .

A century ago pioneer river explorers Thane Galloway and John Wesley Powell developed two distinctive rowing styles. Your guides will employ them to meet the challenge of Westwater's rapids. Galloway 's innovative facing style will be used in most of the rapids that demand tight boat placement, including Funnel Falls and Sock-it-to-me. Powell's distinctive style is used for Skull rapid where a powerful thrust is required to thrust through a diagonal wave feeding right into Skull Hole. This section of the Colorado River has been nicknamed the "Little Grand," in comparison to the famous rapids of the Grand Canyon . Westwater Canyon is best run from April through October. Peak time is in June. Westwater Canyon begins near the Utah/Colorado border, approximately 50 miles northeast of Moab Utah.

Prices start from:

  • Raft for 1 day - $140 per person
  • Raft for 2 days - $265 per person
  • Raft for 3 days - $480 per person

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