Whitewater rafting is a FUN summer adventure for families. We recently joined Adrift Adventures for a one-day rafting trip through Dinosaur National Monument in eastern Utah. We rafted nine miles down the Green River through Split Mountain Gorge.
Here is what you can expect when you raft Dinosaur National Monument with Adrift Adventures.
Fun for families
Children as young as six years old are welcome on the one-day Split Mountain Gorge trip. The most difficult rapids are Class 3, which are very exciting, but not very dangerous. Our guides thoroughly explained how to stay safe and have fun before we entered the river, and once there, we had time to practice our paddling technique before hitting our first rapid.
My 7-year-old son was anxious about the rapids during the first part of the trip, but he cheered as loudly as anyone through the last rapids. My 10-year-old daughter loved every minute. When the guide offered us the chance to jump into the river at a calm spot, my kids were the first out of the raft.
A family rafting trip is a good opportunity to meet families from other parts of the world. We shared a raft with a father and son from Hong Kong, and a family from Kansas City paddled the other raft. There were three 7-year-old boys in our group and two 10-year-olds. They quickly started a game of tag on the beach when we stopped for lunch.
Your trip begins at Adrift Adventures in Jensen, Utah where you'll be fitted for a life jacket and helmet. Once your group is ready, you'll board a van for a 45-minute drive to the river. On the way, we stopped for a short hike to some impressive petroglyphs in a remote part of Dinosaur National Monument.
About two-thirds through the trip, we stopped at a sandy beach for lunch. Our guides set up a hand washing station and passed around Pringles for snacking, and then prepared build-your-own taco salad wraps on a folding table. Peanut butter and jelly were available for picky eaters. Water and lemonade were provided for drinking.
If you're planning to visit other parts of Dinosaur National Monument as well, schedule it after your rafting trip. A seven-day pass to Dinosaur National Monument is included. You won't want to miss the famous wall of dinosaur bones at the Quarry Exhibit Hall. You'll be returned to the Adrift Adventures offices by 3 or 4 p.m., so you'll have time for a short, same-day visit if you'd like.
What to Pack
Assume that you will be soaked several times during the trip, and that you could lose anything that is not securely fastened to your body or the raft. Wear swimsuits and clothing that will be comfortable under those conditions and minimize the extra stuff you take with you.
On a hot day in July or August, you can get by with basic swimsuits and t-shirts, though cotton is not ideal. I wore cotton shorts over my swimsuit and when we returned to the hotel an hour after leaving the river, they were still damp and droopy. I had a great day, but next time I'd prefer a pair of quick-dry board shorts.
Your guide will have a dry bag where you can store personal items. However, you don't need to carry much with you. We took only our water bottles, sunscreen, phone (for the camera) and wallet. I kept the phone and wallet in a small Dry Pak bag that I wore around my waist. It worked well until I forgot to close it after I handed the phone to my husband, and hopped into the river, where we soon noticed his wallet floating on top of the water. We got it back, though. Thank heaven it floats!
Suggested packing list for a one-day trip:
- Sunscreen/lip balm – We were fine without lip balm, but sunscreen is essential.
- Swimsuit and/or shorts and quick-dry top – Avoid cotton because it does not protect from hypothermia. You may prefer rain gear early in the season when the water and the air are cooler.
- Water shoes or sandals with ankle strap – Chaco sandals are what the guides wear, but you just need something that will protect your feet and won't fall off in the river. An old pair of sneakers will be fine. Flip flops will not.
- Water bottle, preferably with clip – We took water bottles, but didn't need them as much as I expected.
- Hat/visor, preferably with chin cord
- Sunglasses (polarized) with securing strap, like Chums Eyewear Retainers.
Our whitewater rafting trip with Adrift Adventures was the highlight of a fun weekend in Utah's Dinosaurland. Vernal, Utah, which is located about three hours' drive from Salt Lake City or six hours from Denver, is a good base for this trip. This was a weekend getaway for us, and would also be fun as part of a road trip.
Good to Know
Where: Adrift Adventures (also known as River Runners). 9500 East 6000 South, Jensen, Utah.
- Adults $96
- Children (ages 6-12): $76
- Be sure to tip your guides!
How long: 8 a.m. until 3 or 4 p.m.
Amenities: All rafting equipment, experienced guides, catered lunch, transportation, petroglyph hike, week-long pass to Dinosaur National Monument. Primitive toilets with hand sanitizer are available at the boat ramps. There are no bathrooms on the river.
Disclosure: Our rafting trip was sponsored by Uintah County Travel and Tourism, so that we could review this experience for other families. All opinions are my own.