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Moab Happenings Home
Water Adventures Happenings - August 2019
Canyonlands by Night & Day
Lovingly penned by Swirlin’ Eddy for Wild West Voyages

The Colorado River this summer season has definitely had an abnormal surplus of water flowing through the red-rock canyon walls. The extra water from the snow melt coming from the Rocky Mountains was so abundant the snow is still melting through the month of July. To add onto the extra snow we got last winter, Moab experienced a mild spring which brought quite a few small rainstorms.

Between the extra snowmelt and rain the Moab area usually doesn’t get so much of, the river has grown to double the capacity and is running twice as fast compared to normal amounts. The extra water is a blessing compared to the drops of water trickling through the rocks last summer!

River Safety Tips
Because there is so much extra water in the Colorado River right now and the current is so strong, you need to make sure you are staying safe when playing in the water. We understand it is hard sometimes to know what precautions to take when you may not be familiar with the river, so we have made a checklist of things to remember for you to utilize for your river adventures.

Not only do you have to worry about staying safe in the water, but you also have to protect yourself from sunburns and heat stroke because in this blazing desert it is easy to get dehydrated and burnt without realizing it. Make sure to run through your checklist before leaving for your adventures.

River Reminders:
• Always wear life jackets
• Bring a buddy
• Tell someone where you will be and when you’ll return
• Lather up in sunscreen
• Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated!
• Listen to your guides (if on a river tour)

What To Do On the River

With all of the extra water, the activity possibilities are endless. There are things to do for people of all ages and interests as well.

Self-Directed Experience
Along Highway 128 are plenty of beaches and day-use recreation areas you can drive to. Pull out the camp chairs, towels, ice chest, and sand toys and you could spend an entire day playing on the river banks. No extra costs, no set time frame, and no guides telling you where to go!

If you are looking for an experience that’s more of a guided trip, listed below are a multitude of options.
Calm River Experience

Looking for a calm, relaxing experience on the Colorado River? Take a scenic boat tour down river where you can see a fossilized sea bed, arches outside of the park, native petroglyphs, Thelma & Louise Point, Dead Horse Point, and more.

Another option for a relaxing experience is to do a tube or canoe float on the Colorado River. You might find a few eddies or smaller rapids, but it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon relaxing and hanging out with friends and family.

Thrilling River Experience
Searching for something more active and exciting to feed your hunger for thrill? There are plenty of options for you too! Try an hour of adrenaline and thrill on a speed jet boat trip up river which will spin you, get you absolutely soaked, and give you the excitement of a lifetime!

Racing up the Colorado River on a speed jet boat isn’t for everyone, but there are more options for you as well. Something else you can do is go on a whitewater rafting trip. There is nothing like a rough and tumble trip through the rapids on the Colorado with your friends and family on a hot summer day.
*No one accepted under the age of 8 or with medical concerns on the Spin & Splash boat

Evening Experiences
If you are not looking to be out in the heat of the day or are looking for some evening plans to relax and have dinner, there are river options for that too. Take a scenic boat tour down river where you get to see arches, native petroglyphs, and the gorgeous red-rock canyon walls lit up in the sunset coloring. After the boat you also get to indulge in a slow roasted, dutch oven buffet dinner.

You could also go on a different boat tour if you are wanting to learn more of the history of the area instead of the scenery. You will start with a slow roasted, dutch oven buffet dinner. After the savory meal you will go on a boat and head up-river in which you will learn the story of the history, formation, and creation of the area according to the early settlers’ perspectives. The story will be told by way of a sound narration coordinating with shadows dancing on the red-rock walls in a spotlight. The show is a definite must-see while in Moab!

The Colorado River’s levels are expected to continue to lessen as the summer comes closer to an end, but it doesn’t mean it’s safe to just hop in the river without taking the necessary safety precautions. We want you to have fun on the river and enjoy the cold, refreshing water on hot summer days. Stay hydrated, stay safe, and make red-rock summer memories!

**For more information on the different guided river tours, contact Canyonlands by Night & Day at (435)259-5261 or go to

Swirlin’ Eddy’s Brief Guide To River Lingo!
Lovingly penned by Swirlin’ Eddy for Wild West Voyages

When you embark on a river trip, it often feels as if you’re in a separate world. And you are! Swept away from the asphalt tributaries, the comforts of home and the cacophony of sounds resonating from urban living, you’re instead riding life’s greatest highway: the river.

Complete with this whole new world you’re navigating is a new set of vocab. To help, here is a rafter’s guide to whitewater lingo. Now you’ll not only be able to talk the talk with your friendly Wild West Voyages guides and guests, but you’ll feel at home on the river yourself.

We can’t wait to talk boofs, dumptrucks and haystacks with you!
Special shout out to Row Adventures (sharing nature and enriching lives since 1979) for contributing the bulk of this material.

As in an “alluvial bar” or “alluvial fan.” Refers to material carried by running water and deposited by the river. Such as the land on which Red Cliffs Lodge now stands.

Boil: Caused by water flowing over a deeply submerged rock or by construction, this is seen where water on the surface swells and looks as if it is actually boiling. Hence the funky currents near Big Bend and Locals Beach.

When a raft bumps purposefully into a rock, or a kayaker uses the water’s cushion next to a rock to do a “boof move.”

Booties: Neoprene boots worn for warmth.

Breaking Wave: Unlike ocean waves that are waves of motion, river waves remain in the same place. A breaking wave falls back on itself with a constant or intermittent white froth.

CFS: Acronym for cubic feet per second. Knowing the CFS of a river tells you how big or small the volume is. 500-3000 cfs for example is a smaller river, while 50,000 cfs or more is huge. This year the local Colorado River reached 39,900 cfs on June 11th.

Chute: Where the river flows between obstacles like rocks, or a rock and a cliff. Usually narrow and sometimes fast.
Classification System: The river rating (from I-VI) of a series of rapids or even the river as a whole, which indicates how difficult the section is.

Confluence: The area where two or more rivers meet.

Dig: “Dig in team” shouts the guide! This means to bury your paddle deep in the current for a stronger stroke. Often heard from paddle raft guides while entering New Rapid or Whites Rapid on the Moab Daily.

Dry Bag:
A bag which keep water out, and if closed correctly, keeps the contents within dry. Best not to keep your water bottle in this.

Dumptruck: When a raft turns on its side and dumps everyone out, but then rights itself without flipping over.

Eddy: An area in the river where the shape of the river’s edge and contour of the bottom cause the current to turn around and go upstream. We have lots of these around here, but the most famous is All Day Eddy just upriver from Take Out Beach. It can be longer than a football field, and pull boaters back upstream, again and again.

Moving across a river. An “upstream ferry” is used to cross a river while losing as little downstream distance as possible. “That was a great ferry angle.”

Haystack (or Domer):
A wave that is caused by fast water running into slower current due to a drop in gradient. Usually makes for big, fun waves with no obstacles.

Also known as a hydraulic or reversal, a place where water drops over a rock and curls back on itself creating aerated, frothy water. Everyone’s least favorite place to swim.

Lateral: A large wave that breaks at a strong angle relative to the main downstream current.

“The best line in this rapid is left of that boulder.” The route through a rapid to avoid obstacles. “Wishing you clean lines today!”

Good Looking Rubber:
A compliment about the quality of a raft.

Oar Raft: A raft that is controlled by a person who sits on a rowing frame that is in the center of the craft. This guide rows with oars, not paddles.

A person with a passion for running outdoor trips who has invested large amounts of capital and energy to do so. Their passion often outweighs business sense. Not to be confused with a gear or clothing outfitter.

Paddle Raft: A raft propelled by a group of people with paddles (not oars).

PFD: Your Personal Flotation Device. Used to be called a life jacket.

Found between rapids, this is a deep and quiet stretch of slow-moving river.

Usually a highlight of a river trip! A formation in a river caused by gradient and either constriction or obstacles (such as rocks), or both.

“That’s a nice run” means a river that has a great section for boating, whether by kayak, raft or other craft.
Safety Talk: The talk given prior to starting a trip on a river that covers the techniques and things you need to know to help yourself should something go amiss.

Slay: An emphatic way of saying you done good. As in “You totally slayed that run!”

A rock that sits just under the water and is hard to detect.

Sometimes a difficult rapid will have a “sneak route” where a more difficult route can be avoided. Conversely, Rocky Rapid on the local Colorado has a sneak just above it, in case you don’t want to miss it!

Standing Wave:
When fast-moving water collides with slow-moving water a static and usually large wave appears.

Swimmer: When you fall out of a raft you become a swimmer.

A river access, where the river trip ends. Often people are sad when they reach the take-out and the trip is ending.

Throw bag: A bag filled with floating rope or line that is one of the key elements of river gear.

Undercut: Mostly found on rivers with softer rock (limestone, sandstone), this refers to the place where current flows under a rock, overhang, or ledge. Best to avoid.

Whitewater: Often actually white in color, but on a muddy river like the Colorado can be brown, this is the churning, bubbly, water found in rapids.

Wild West Voyages specializes in family-friendly guided day tours on the Colorado River and hosts a HIGH ROPES CHALLENGE COURSE on site in downtown Moab. Call them for boutique rafting, kayaking, and Stand Up Paddle tours, rentals, river shuttle service, or a Ropes-n-Boats adventure day! Customized and private trips available. 435-355-0776 / 844-494-5393;

Explore the World of Whitewater Rafting
By Allison Betke
Grab hold of adventure! Sign your teen up for a rafting experience of a lifetime learning and running the rapids of Westwater Canyon August 5 - 8. Open to young adults entering 8th – 12th grade this fall, Canyonlands Field Institute’s Whitewater Academy gives the teens in your life the opportunity to experience whitewater rafting first hand with other teens their age. This thrilling program allows students to develop the leadership and teamwork skills necessary to conquer the Class IV rapids of Westwater Canyon such as Skull, Sock-It-To-Me, and Last Chance.

Each day, participants will learn a variety of skills including rigging boats, paddling downstream, setting up camp, and preparing meals on the river. Our expedition begins on the calm waters of Ruby and Horsethief Canyons, offering participants a chance to hone their skills on a calm stretch of river. Towering red rock walls and numerous side canyons offer opportunities for hiking, exploration, and relaxation. On day three the excitement picks up as the Colorado’s current speeds up in Westwater Canyon. As a team, we will use all the skills we have acquired to have an exciting and safe run through the canyon. After our last night in the field, we paddle out to Cisco as the red walls subside.

As with all CFI river programs our curriculum includes the opportunity to learn skills such as leadership development, basic river rescue, risk management, and decision making. The course also focuses on Leave No Trace principles, ethics for river travel, and ecology of the desert region. Spending time on the river is a wonderful opportunity to push our comfort zones and form strong connections with each other and the wilderness around us.

CFI is excited to offer a $100 discount to any young adult registered in Grand County School District thanks to our sponsors: Canyon Voyages Adventures Co, Desert Rivers Credit Union, Grand County Recreation Special Service District, and The Synergy Company. Further scholarships, found on our website, are available on a rolling basis.
To register your teen for Whitewater Academy go online to, email at, or call at 435-259-7750.
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