Cataract Canyon

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9 minutes, 34 seconds

Get ready for your backcountry whitewater trip to Cataract Canyon. Helpful tips and advice provided in this video will help you plan your trip and Leave No Trace while out in these pristine areas.


Cataract Canyon contains 14 miles of rapids ranging in difficulty up to Class V. It is a particularly hazardous and isolated section of the Colorado River and is subject to extreme water level fluctuations.

You must have a river permit for all trips through Cataract Canyon. People interested in boating through Cataract Canyon should also read about the flatwater as these sections cannot be bypassed.



Launch/Takeout Options

Most Cataract Canyon trips put in at Potash, Moab, Green River, or Mineral Bottom. Past Cataract Canyon, boaters usually take out at Lake Powell from the North Wash (aka Dirty Devil) Take Out. This take-out is primitive and unimproved. Boaters should be aware of lake conditions as they will affect the final day(s) of your trip.

While hiking trails lead to the rivers from each of the districts, these trails are too long and rugged to be seriously considered for shuttles, even for inflatables and other lightweight boats.

Mussel Advisory

Due to the presence of invasive mussels in Lake Powell, Utah and Arizona laws require boaters to clean, drain, and dry their vessels after takeout. All boaters on Lake Powell must comply with Glen Canyon's mussel regulations.

Distances and Flows

Check float times for distances and suggested number of days to complete a Cataract Canyon trip.

These trips vary in length based on river flows and motor use. 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.


Below are designated campsites along the rivers in Canyonlands. During periods of high water, camps can be difficult to find, especially for large groups. During late summer and fall, sandbars are usually plentiful and make ideal camps. River users must register for camps below the Confluence.


List of Cataract Canyon Campsites

Campsites are located from the Danger Sign to North Wash. Mileage based on Belknap River Guidebook. 

Water Level Key:
H = High Water Camps (below 60,000 cfs)
S = Small Low Water Camp
L = Large Low Water Camp

Last updated: April 29, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

2282 Resource Blvd.
Moab, UT 84532



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