brightly colored rafts sit on the riverside
Colorful group at the scouting beach for Big Drop Two in Cataract Canyon

NPS/Neal Herbert


The Colorado and Green rivers have played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Canyonlands, and seeing the park from the bottom up affords a unique perspective. Above their confluence near the heart of Canyonlands, the rivers offer miles and miles of flatwater perfect for canoes, sea kayaks and other shallow-water boats. Below the confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a fourteen-mile stretch of Class III to V whitewater.

Rockfall note: A significant rockfall has occurred on along the Green River just below Anderson Bottom. The river is passable. New rapids as a result of the rockfall are not expected, but boaters should check current conditions before heading out and exercise caution when navigating the rockfall (updated March 22, 2021).

Private Permits

You must have a permit for all private river trips. You may reserve overnight permits up to four months before the following seasons and reservations close two days prior to a launch date. Day use permits are available year round.

  • April 14 – October 15 (opens December 14)
  • October 16 – April 13 (opens June 15)

For a successful river trip, it is essential to practice proper food handling & sanitation and water purification techniques, and to abide by toilet requirements and other river regulations. (Read through some river incident reports for examples of unsuccessful trips.)


If you are planning on traveling or crossing either of the rivers during a backpacking trip, you may need to include it on your permit. Read more about packrafting requirements.

Guided Trips

Local outfitters offer a variety of guided trips, from half-day excursions to week-long floats. Most river trips involve several nights of camping.

Academic River Trips

Academic institutions wishing to do either flatwater or whitewater trips may do so under a Special Use Permit from Canyonlands National Park. Read more about academic river trips.


River flows are dependent upon snowmelt and rainfall. The character of the rivers changes dramatically depending on the season. High water generally stretches from early May to late June, while low water may occur later in summer. Both conditions can present challenges to boaters. Recorded river flows are available from the US Geological Survey or by calling 801-539-1311. Snowmelt peak flow forecasts are available from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.

Also on this subject:

Launch/Takeout Options

On both rivers, all launch ramps are outside park boundaries. Launch locations on the Green River include Green River State Park, Ruby Ranch or Mineral Bottom. On the Colorado River, boaters typically use the Potash or Moab ramps. You only need a park permit for the nights you will be inside the park (below Potash or Mineral Bottom ramps). Vehicles cannot reach the rivers near the Confluence or in Cataract Canyon. Past Cataract Canyon, boaters usually take out at Lake Powell at the North Wash (aka Dirty Devil) Take Out. This take-out is primitive and unimproved.

Hiking trails lead to the rivers from each of the districts, but these trails are too long and rugged to be seriously considered for shuttles, unless groups use equipment designed for this purpose such as packrafts.

Access the Canyonlands Boat Launch Calendar.


Shuttle Services


Two companies are licensed to provide river shuttles (upstream and downstream) in Canyonlands National Park:

  • Tex's Riverways: 877-662-2839 or 435-259-5101
  • Canyonlands River Tours: 800-394-9978, 435-259-5261

For a list of shuttle services to destinations outside the park, visit

Last updated: March 26, 2022

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