Much of Utah is an open expanse of wilderness, containing mile after mile of stunning vistas and rock formations. Eastern Utah is particularly isolated and arid, apart from a twisting blue lifeline called the Colorado River. It is along this river that you will find the little settlement of Moab, which today acts as a major gateway to Arches and Canyonlands national parks. Impressive trails and rock formations can be found on the edges of town too (they’re everywhere in these parts), as well as water-based activities such as rafting along the Colorado.
This region has been less isolated than you’d think: pre-historic petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks lay testament to a long history of interaction between fauna and the land here. The Colorado holds an important place in the region’s social history as the route by which modern explorers first passed through. Taking a river rafting tour from Moab is therefore not only a thrilling but insightful way to experience this part of Utah. Here are five of the best Moab rafting tours.
From $69/per person
Guided tours of the Colorado River are not only a brilliant way to get to know this vital lifeline through the dry region, but also necessary given the number of whitewater rapids you’ll encounter along the way. This four-hour tour is a great option for those who wish to avoid the crazier sections of the river in favor of Class 1 and 2 rapids, interspersed with stretches of calmer water from which you can sit back and appreciate the magnificent surroundings. All gear and transportation are included. Tours depart daily.
From $109/ per person
The Colorado River just keeps on going. John Wesley Powell’s geographic expedition of this region in 1869 lasted three months. As such, there is certainly more than enough riverscape around Moab, Utah to satisfy the most demanding of day trippers and this eight-hour tour offers plenty of river time, including rapids that reach a Class 2 level, which are fine for novices. Don’t worry about the waiver forms you’ll need to sign at the start, these are standard on all Moab rafting trips. Your guides will each have hundreds of hours of experience. Lunch is provided midway through this tour.
From $129/ per person
For more experienced or daring rafters, Fisher Towers is the prime whitewater spot with easy access from Moab. Starting out at Onion Creek, you’ll see the beautiful sandstone rock formations before the sound of churning water demands your attention is switched back to the river. While the rapids never pass Class 3 here, you’re guaranteed to get soaking wet during this seven-hour tour. You’ll also raft through many other creeks along the way including Cloudburst, Rocky Rapid and Professor Creek.
From $165/ per person
There’s another fantastic way to experience the remarkable land around Moab: 4×4 off-roading. While every tour on this list includes transport from the point downriver at which you’ll end your rafting, an off-roading experience really gets you to some of the region’s best viewpoints and hidden highlights, such as the impressive narrow switchbacks of the Shafer Trail: a steep, dusty drive in a remote corner of Canyonlands National Park. As part of this excellent combo tour, you’ll also spend time rafting the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River.
From $190/ per person
For more experienced rafters who really need to be facing certain death to truly enjoy a rafting experience, it’s really only Westwater Canyon that will suffice for most of the year. In all seriousness though, this excellent, narrow gorge enjoys whitewater rapids that reach a Class 4 level, which is well navigated with the help of your excellent guides, through sections reassuringly named things like Sock It To Me and Skull. The waters calm towards the end of this nine-hour tour, allowing you chance to enjoy the view before arriving in Moab.