150 years ago, John Wesley Powell and his men first explored the Green and Colorado Rivers. The journey began in Wyoming, wound through the intense Utah landscape, and eventually concluded in Arizona. Rafting the Green River from Vernal, Utah follows the legacy of those early explorers. More than a century beyond the historic Powell expedition, the landscape remains unchanged and frozen in time. Soon you’ll understand why this area is commonly referred to as the “origin of adventure”.
This article was created in partnership with Uintah Country Travel and Tourism. All photos provided by Uintah Country Travel and Tourism.
Get acquainted with the Vernal region
Vernal, Utah is the hub for whitewater adventure on the Green River. The town has an extensive network of whitewater guides ready to take you on the adventure of a lifetime. After making your rafting reservation, meet your guide for a pre-trip meeting, then head out for dinner and a beer at one of the many local establishments.
Vernal lies south of the stunning Flaming Gorge Reservoir, aptly named by Powell and his party for its brilliant colored cliffs. Immediately to the east is Dinosaur National Monument–a massive swath of protected land filled with fossils. Visitors to Vernal should certainly explore these Utah treasures.
Choose a wickedly adventurous river trip
No river rapids compare to those found in the Gates of Lodore on the Green River. Excitement is fairly nonstop on these trips as you run through class III and IV rapids. This specific section of river wreaked havoc on the Powell expedition and their wooden boats, and remains infamous for its gnarly rapids. Fortunately with modern equipment and experienced guides, this adventurous float will leave you whooping and hollering for more!
Choose a mellow float
I get it, not everyone is an adrenaline junkie! If you prefer to lean back with the sun on your face and float lazily along the river, there are plenty of other river trips for you. The scenery on all sides of the Green River is simply breathtaking, and I’d understand those who just want to stare at it… just don’t forget to pull your jaw off the floor of the boat. The tailwaters of Flaming Gorge Reservoir offer some of the finest fishing in the region, and doing so from a boat allows access to some seriously fishy waters and great holes.
Experience more in Vernal
Never sat in a raft, or do you consider yourself more of a river rat? For first timers, most outfitters will recommend a day trip. If you’ve been down the river before and thirst for more, consider a multi-day experience. Go ahead, lose cell reception and disconnect from the world while you float through secluded canyons and dramatic scenery. The dark skies allow for incredible stargazing, and with more time on the river you’ll surely feel at home in no time.