I'd like to take a whitewater rafting trip at Dinosaur. What are my options?
You can take a guided (commercial) trip or, if you have your own equipment and the skills, you can apply for a permit to do a private (non-commercial) trip.
I'd like to float the river on a private trip. Are there restrictions?
Yes, a permit is required to float the river at any time. Permits for the High Use Season (second Monday of May to the second Friday of Sept) are awarded by lottery only, each winter, through the Monument River Office. Permits for the rest of year are issued through the Monument River Office as well. There are Multi-day Permits, One-day Permits, and Play Permits. For more detailed information on these permits, visit the Rafting Permits page.
What is a Multi-day Permit?
A multi-day permit is the permit you will need for overnight trips on the Green or Yampa rivers, within the monument. Trips begin at either Gates of Lodore on the Green River, or Deerlodge Park on the Yampa River. No matter where you begin, the take-out is at Split Mountain on the Green River. Trip lengths vary by river and season. Permits are issued through Monument River Office. Fees apply.
What is a One-day Permit?
A one-day permit (or single-day permit) is the permit you will need for a day rafting trip on the Green River from Rainbow Park to Split Mountain. Permits are issued through Monument River Office. Fees apply.
What is a Play Permit?
A play permit is the permit required to float into the monument at Gates of Lodore, or Deerlodge Park, and to float below Split Mountain boat ramp. To float into Gates of Lodore or Deerlodge Park, the permit must be issued through the Monument River Office. To float from Split Mountain boat ramp, downriver, a permit may be issued at the Quarry Visitor Center. This permit is for one day and restrictions apply. There is no fee.
How does the Lottery Permit System work?
Beginning each November, the Monument River Office accepts lottery applications for High Use Season launch dates. In early February, a lottery draw is held to award permits for all available launches in the High Use Season. Only one application per person is allowed for the High Use Season drawing. Lottery participants will be notified by mail of the outcome. There are around 5000 applicants for 300 available launches. Those who did not win a permit will be allowed to call the Monument River Office beginning March 1, to obtain a left-over launch (if any) or to obtain a Low Use season permit. Those who did not participate in the lottery draw must wait until March 8 to call to obtain any available permits. For more information on the permit process, or a link to the lottery permit application, visit the Rafting Permits page.
I only want a Low Use Season permit. Can I call on March 1 for that?
Only if you applied for a high use season permit and did not obtain one. Otherwise, you must wait until March 8 to call.
How do I contact the Monument River Office?
Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, you can call (970) 374-2468. You can also email us.
When is the last day to turn in lottery permit applications?
Lottery applications must be RECEIVED in the Monument River Office by February 1.
My buddy can't go on the date of his permit, can he transfer the permit to me?
No. He is allowed one date change, if available, to accommodate his needs. Otherwise, the permit must be surrendered and posted for availability to others. Straying from this policy would result in bogus lottery applications with the intent of "stacking the deck" for a win.
How do I find out about an available/cancelled permit?
We have about a 30% cancellation rate. These cancellations happen for various reasons and can occur at any time. Available trip dates are posted on a calendar that can be accessed via a link on the Rafting Permits page, or by calling an automated line at (866) 825-2995. Call the Monument River Office at (970) 374-2468 to request an available date.
If I volunteer for resource work, can I get in on a river trip?
No, we do not offer opportunities for members of the public to volunteer on official resource management river trips. We occasionally partner with professional outdoor groups, with whom we have a long-standing relationship, to complete resource tasks.
Can I use gear borrowed from a commercial rafting company?
Yes, but you must cover up the company name/logo anywhere visible, on any equipment visible to the public.
Can I guide a trip for friends and make a little extra money?
No. You must have a commercial permit to run a business trip. Only previously authorized concessioners may obtain commercial permits. A violation is subject to a monetary fine and revocation of permit privileges.
I am an instructor at a local college. Can I bring a class group on a trip?
Only if it qualifies as a private trip, as described in the following question.
What is a Private Trip as opposed to a Commercial Trip?
For a trip to be considered non-commercial/private, there must be a true sharing of costs. No part of the fees collected should be: in excess of actual trip costs, for salary or financial gain in any manner for any person of the group, or for capital increase of the major equipment or facilities used on the trip. Boatmen and other crew may not be paid in any manner. There is no media or direct mail advertising or soliciting for trip participants.
What level of skill is required to float the rivers in Dinosaur National Monument?
The Green and Yampa rivers, inside the monument boundary, range from Class II to Class IV. The trip leader and boatmen must have previous experience on comparable class III or higher whitewater rivers. Such rivers include Rogue, Selway, Dolores, North Platte, Westwater, Grand Canyon, New, Penobscot, and others.
Is special equipment necessary for river trips?
Yes. Due to wilderness values, as well as safety considerations, certain equipment is required on all river trips. A required equipment list can be found on the required equipment page or in the current edition of the Boating Regulations Booklet (Adobe PDF 3.03 MB).
I'd like to float the river but have no whitewater experience, nor any equipment. What can I do?
A river trip requires a wide variety of equipment and the skills to safely float the rivers in Dinosaur National Monument. Visit our page on Commercially Guided River Trips to see what options are available.
Does a ranger have to check my permit and equipment before going on the river? Yes. A ranger or park representative will be at the launch area to check your permit and required equipment. If you do not have required equipment, you will not be allowed to launch. If a ranger is not present at the launch, you must fill out a self-registration form located at the kiosk.
Am I subject to inspection while on the river or at the take-out?
Yes. An NPS ranger may inspect parties along the river or at the take-out to ensure compliance with equipment and safety standards.
If I forget some supplies or required rafting equipment, where can I get them?
The closest place to get river gear is Vernal, Utah. River Runners Transport sells and rents rafting equipment. From Split Mountain take-out: Vernal, UT is about 23 miles away and has all amenities. Businesses near Jensen, UT area provide gas/snack/ice items. From Deerlodge launch: Vernal, UT is about 86 miles away. Dinosaur, CO is about 53 miles away, and offers gas/snack/ice items. Maybell, CO is about 28 miles away and offers gas/snack/ice items. Craig, CO is about 59 miles away and offers all amenities.From Gates of Lodore: Vernal, UT is about 100 miles away, via Dutch John. Maybell, CO is about 53 miles away and offers gas/snack/ice items. Dutch John, UT is about 57 miles away, including dirt road, and offers gas/snack/ice items. Craig, CO is about 83 miles away and offers all amenities.
Can emergency messages be delivered to river trip members?
Probably not. Once a trip launches, there is limited opportunity for park staff to get a message to someone. Due to the wilderness nature of the monument, there are few places to intercept a river group and even satellite phone service is sometimes unavailable. If an emergency at home takes place, call the river office with as much information as possible regarding the river permit holder and trip information, in the event message delivery is possible.
How reliable is cell phone service in the monument?
Service is intermittent in most places. Of course, that also depends on the carrier. Service can intermittently be found in the vicinity of Gates of Lodore, Deerlodge Park and Harper's Corner. Service in the Split Mountain area is generally reliable. Service in the river canyons is non-existent. A satellite phone is recommended, but it may also have limited ability in the deep canyons.
Who do I call for emergency assistance while in the monument?
Above Echo Park, call Moffat County, CO Sheriff's dispatch at (970) 824-6501. Below Echo Park, call Uintah County, UT Sheriff's dispatch at (435) 789-4222. Dinosaur National Monument, (435) 781-7700 x0, 7 days/week, 09:00 am to 5:00 pm. An emergency radio is located on the west exterior wall of the Echo Park Ranger Station, call "any ranger" from "Echo Park emergency radio" and have ready as much information as possible about the emergency and victims.
Do I have to report accidents?
Any incident resulting in injury, death, or disappearance, or property damage greater than $2,000 must be reported to Dinosaur National Monument within 24 hours, or as soon as is practical.
What type of toilet system must I use?
The park requires washable, reusable toilet systems and waste containers allowing for the sanitary transfer of waste materials to the human waste disposal unit at Split Mountain. Plastic buckets or paint pails are not permitted. Rocket boxes with molded plastic liners are permitted. Bag systems similar to "Scat Packers" or "Wag Bags" are not permitted. Soft plastic liners are not permitted as they cannot be disposed of at any of the human waste disposal units. Visit the river sanitation page for more information.
Is there potable water at Gate of Lodore, Deerlodge Park or Echo Park?
The water systems are generally turned on and tested near the end of May after the chance of a freeze has lessened. During fall, the availability of water depends on two factors: when the seasonal staff leaves, and/or when cold weather approaches. Contact the river office for more details.
How do I make group site campground reservations for launch and take-out locations? Gates of Lodore and Deerlodge Park campgrounds are on a first-come first-served basis. Reservations are accepted at the Split Mountain Group Campground and for the group site at the Echo Park Campground, during the high use season. Gates of Lodore and Echo Park sites are limited to 8 persons per site. Deerlodge Park, Split Mountain and Echo Park Group Sites are limited to 25 persons per site. For information on campground reservations and fees, visit the Campgrounds page.
How far is the drive between the launch and take-out?
The distance from Split Mountain take-out to Deerlodge is about 83 miles (1.5 - 2 hours). The distance from Split Mountain take-out to Gates of Lodore, via Hwys 40 and 318 is about 138 miles, including 7 miles of dirt road (about 2.5 hours).The distance from Split Mountain take-out to Rainbow Park is about 30 miles, including 13 miles of dirt road (about 1 hour).
Is there shuttle service for river users?
Two commercial companies are authorized to assist in river trip shuttling.
River Runners Transport - (800) 930-7238 - vehicles only
Wilkins Bus Lines - (435) 789-2476 - people and/or vehicles
Can I bring my dog, cat, bird, snake or other pet on the river, he's a great swimmer and wouldn't hurt a fly?
No. Pets are not allowed on the river nor in the backcountry. Pets may only travel where vehicles are allowed to travel, or within your front-country campsite, and may not be left unattended.
How hot is it and how bad are the bugs?
Summertime temperatures range from 40°F to 90°F. There is often no cloud cover and the direct sun is vastly hotter than the shade. Afternoon monsoon rain showers occur in August, and sometimes, July. Visit our weather page for more information. Mosquitos and gnats are worst near the river and during the first half of summer. Lots of water, protective clothing, sunscreen, and insect repellant are recommended.
What kind of boats can be used on the river?
Only non-motorized rafts, canoes, kayaks, dorys and, in some cases, paddleboards may be used on the rivers inside the monument. There is required equipment for each vessel.
Can my kids play on an inner tube or air mattress near the launch or campground?
No, those types of water toys are not allowed for use at any time, in any location, and do not meet the required safety equipment standards. The rivers inside the monument are deep and have very swift currents, swimming is not recommended.
I have seen jon-boats with motors on the river, why are they allowed?
Look closely, what you have observed is a federal, state, or partnership research program in action. Many things are being studied in the monument river corridors to monitor environmental and habitat changes that would affect land and water flora and fauna. There are restrictions to how those groups use their motors and their activities are closely monitored by monument management. We are getting valuable information from the studies they conduct and they are always happy to answer questions about their activities.
How low is too low to float the rivers?
The Yampa is too low for rafts around 1000 cfs. In most years, that usually happens in mid-July. Minimum flows of the dam controlled Green river are 850 cfs. At that level the river is very "rocky", but raftable with skill.
How long does it take for an increase in dam release on the Green to affect the monument river level?
About 24 hrs.
How long are the rivers?
The Green River, from Gates of Lodore to Split Mountain take-out, is 44 miles. The Yampa River, from Deerlodge to Split Mountain take-out, is 71 miles.
How many days can a river trip be?
During High Use Season, 3 nights/4 days on the Green, and 4 nights/5 days on the Yampa is standard. There are provisions for over-length trips, which must be arranged through the river office.
Is there a limit to how many times I can float the river?
Yes. During High Use Season, only one Multi-day trip per person is allowed. An exception is made for a cancelled trip that was picked up within two weeks of the launch date. There is no limit on how many times you float the Daily section.
Why can't I have more than one permit at a time, even in low use season?
To allow for as many different people to experience the river as possible, you can only hold one permit at a time. Once that permit is used, you can request another available launch.
How many people can be on a river trip?
Group size is a maximum of 25 persons. Smaller groups are recommended for ease of campsite selection and group management. All boats must be within sight of each other during the entire trip and must camp together.
Can a group larger than 25 travel together if they get two permits for the One-day trip?
No. Group size is 25 no matter the location or situation. More people make larger impacts on the land and create greater congestion on the river and at the boat ramp. If two related parties hold same day permits, they are required to launch, travel, and take-out separately. Congregating at any point in the trip is not permitted.
I don't want to float with a group, can I do the trip alone?
You may do the trip alone, but it is strongly discouraged. The wild river environment presents many opportunities for emergencies, which are more easily handled when boating with partners.
Do I have to stay in assigned river campsites?
Yes, during the high use season. Assuring that all users have appropriate sites during this season requires much planning, it is imperative that groups keep to site assignments and don't disrupt the schedule. Not staying in assigned sites is a permit violation, subject to penalty. During low use season groups may choose their own site itinerary, this encourages interaction with other groups encountered on the river so each knows the other's plan.
When planning my own campsites, what distances can I expect to travel in a day?
In low river flows, a group can only make about 10 river miles a day. In high flows, 20 miles a day would be about maximum. A Green trip is 44 miles, and a Yampa trip is 71 miles.
Are there consequences if I violate a term of the permit?
Yes. You may ticketed and fined up to $5,000, you may lose permit holder privileges for a year or more, or may be banned from river trips for a year or more.
Do I have to pay park entrance fees if I have paid for a river permit?
Yes. Park entrance fees are separate from river permit fees. See our page on monument fees. If rafting with a concessioner, you will pay your entrance fees through the concessions company.
What needs to be in my First Aid Kit (required)?
Your first aid kits should include supplies for treating medical and traumatic injuries; gloves, facial barrier for rescue breathing, splinting material, trauma dressings.
What needs to be in my Repair Kit (required)?
Supplies capable of repairing tears in boat materials, and replacing or repairing valves and frame components.
What needs to be in my Rescue Kit (required)?
Gear for rescuing trapped people or stranded boats, including throw bags, rope, pulleys, carabiners.
How do I determine my boat capacity and does it matter?
Exceeding passenger carrying capacities is prohibited. You should know your boat manufacturer's specifications. As a general guideline, capacity may be determined by the dimensions of the boat (approx. 22 sq. ft. per person for oar frame boats, or approx. 18 sq. ft. per person for paddled craft).
What are the current river flows?
You can find stream flow information here.
What flow levels can I expect on the Yampa and Green rivers during my trip?
A chart recording 27 years of daily mean stream flows for the Yampa at Deerlodge can be found here. You can see current and planned dam release information for the Green River at Flaming Gorge here.
What is the classification, or difficulty level, of the rapids on the monument rivers?
The rapids on the Yampa range from Class I to Class III, depending on the water flow, except for Warm Springs. Warm Springs becomes Class III to Class V, depending on water flow. The rapids on the Green range from Class II to Class IV+, depending on water flow. The Split Mountain section of the Green ranges from Class II to Class III+, depending on water flow.