You know what they say: location, location, location. Lake Powell hasn’t become one of the top houseboating destinations in the world due to its red rocks alone. This blue gem sits smack dab in the middle of an outdoor mecca; a region often referred to as Canyon Country. This area boasts an impressive cluster of national parks and monuments such as Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, and Lake Powell’s own Glen Canyon National Park. Residing in a recreational gold mine, it’s no wonder that adventure seekers stop by Lake Powell’s waters year after year.
One of the more exciting routes taken by outdoor enthusiasts isn’t by road, but by river! Roughly 160 miles north of Lake Powell lies Moab, the closest city to the famous Arches National Park. The Colorado River, which borders the outskirts of the charming town, serves as a channel between Moab and Powell. Known as Cataract Canyon, this stretch of river is notorious for its rapids which are easily considered the biggest and most challenging in the state of Utah. As it is prime for whitewater rafting, several touring companies, such as Red River Adventures, have formed over the years to address the increasing demand for guided expeditions. Find one you fancy, pack your bags, and grab a paddle! Launch off from the river’s bank near Moab to embark on one of the most unique river rafting adventures out there.
The first portion of your journey will offer plenty of time to soak up the sun and enjoy the breathtaking desert scenery. Red cliff walls aging up to 300 million years in age will surround you, gradually rising to reach up to a towering 2000 feet. Ranging from water storing cacti to fragile wildflowers, you’ll see a diverse group of plant life covering the red banks. Early mornings and evenings will bring deer and muskrat to the shores. Keep your eyes peeled during the day for Desert Big Horn Sheep, this area hosts the largest heard in the west. When you’ve pulled off the river to a sandy beach for the day, be sure to take advantage of some wonderful side hikes in order to view hidden pools, waterfalls, Indian Ruins, and more.
As the canyon deepens, the river’s mood drastically changes. Hang on tight as you’ll soon find yourself encountering the merge of the Colorado and Green Rivers where the river doubles in size and the rapids begin! Brown Betty Rapids come first, followed by Mile Long Rapids, and the intense Big Drop Rapids. Some of the more remarkable Big Drops include: “Little Niagara”, “Satan’s Gut”, and “The Claw”. But don’t let the nicknames scare you off – with help of your guide and your group you’ll find yourself cutting through these thrilling rapids with pleasure. (However, to ensure your group is paddling your ideal level of difficulty, be sure to research the river’s ratings and the river’s average intensities during each season before you book your trip.)
After you pass through Imperial Rapid, loosen your grip and hand out the high fives – you did it! Now that you’ve conquered the Cataract, prepare to have the time of your life as you enter the edge of Lake Powell. Head over to the Bullfrog Marina to embark on your houseboat vacation. Relax aboard your home away from home, as you begin a vacation that you’ll never forget.
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