Canoeing and kayaking allows people of all ages and varied abilities to experience paddling the serenity of calm water or the challenge of maneuvering whitewater. A trip to southern Utah can offer multiple opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. Whether you choose a day trip on the Colorado River, a multiple day escape on the Green River, or a splash on beautiful Lake Powell, you are bound to experience eye catching geology, abundant bird life, mysterious rock art, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of a herd of Desert Bighorn sheep. Guided trips are available for those who desire personalized paddling instruction or interpretation of natural and historic sites. Self-guided trips allow flexibility and a sense of exploration. In northern Utah, the Provo and Weber rivers are popular spots to canoe and kayak. Read more…
Our Favorite Spots in Utah for Kayaking and Canoeing
The nearby Colorado River offers the easiest access for folks of varying ability levels and limited time. For families with younger children or adults looking for a beginner or casual canoe or kayak experience, there is the local “Flatwater Daily.” This trip puts in at the Moab Boat Ramp and takes out at either Gold Bar Canyon or the Postash Boat Ramp. Either option will take you past a wetlands preserve and down through sheer red walls of Navajo sandstone and gently rolling rock fins and arches.
The stretch of the Colorado upstream known as Fisher Towers offers the beginning or intermediate whitewater paddler an opportunity to learn and hone whitewater skills in an unforgettable setting. The La Sal Mountains and Fisher Towers serve as a backdrop at the Hittle Bottom put-in. The Class II pool drop rapids along the this section of the Colorado River are fun to maneuver in a kayak or raft with adequate whitewater paddling experience or guidance. As on the “Flatwater Daily”, there are plenty of spots to stop and picnic, swim and relax along the way. There are numerous put-ins and take-outs, allowing your group to create the type of trip you desire.
River kayakers will enjoy the challenges found on Westwater Canyon and Cataract Canyon, where rapids often reach class IV during the peak season. Trips down these stretches of the Colorado are more challenging, and should only be attempted by experienced kayakers.
There are several river outfitters in Moab who offer guided canoe or kayaking trips, as well as, self-guided rentals packages. A good package will include a canoe, raft or kayak, paddle(s), life jackets, any necessary flotation devices and rescue equipment (throw bag). Shuttles and equipment drop-off are also available. Bring a small cooler to keep drinks and food cold. Don’t forget hats, sunglasses with a leash, sunscreen and bug repellent, depending on the time of year. Cameras, binoculars and books can be kept dry in zip-lock bags, dry bags, or hard shell waterproof cases, available from any outfitter. Suggested planning and packing list.
If you would like to explore the canyons by canoe, consider a three to seven day trip down Labyrinth or Stillwater Canyons on the Green River. Opportunities are plentiful for birding, day hiking and inspecting ancient ruins and rock art. The flatwater nature of these trips makes them appropriate for paddlers of all abilities. Campsites range from shady oak groves to wide sandbars and beaches. A little forethought will allow you to pack and carry all your camping gear easily in your canoe.
The Green River’s Desolation Canyon can be floated by experienced kayakers. It may have rapids up to Class III.
For those canoeists with Class II whitewater experience, the nearby San Juan River offers not only fun rapids but also some of the richest archeological sites found in Utah. Trips last from two to six days. Outfitters in Moab can help you plan your San Juan trip.
The serenity of Lake Powell makes it an ideal destination for canoeists and sea kayaking. Guides offer exceptional trips that emphasize both skills and the natural beauty of the Lake.