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.
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 December 1st, 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 e-mail from recreation.gov of the outcome. There are around 7,000 applicants for 300 available launches. Those who did not win a permit or did not apply into the lottery will have three options to obtain a left-over launch (if any) or to obtain a Low Use season permit beginning on March 1. The best option is logging onto recreation.gov and obtaining a launch online. You may also call the recreation call center at 1-877-444-6777 and talk directly with customer service representative. Those wishing to call the river office may be limited and lessen their chances in obtaining a launch. 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?
Yes, those interested in a low use season permit may obtain a permit one of three ways. The best options is logging onto recreation.gov and obtaining a launch online. You may also call the recreation call center at 1-877-444-6777 and talk directly with customer service representatives. Calling the river office to obtain a permit may lessen chances in obtaining a launch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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 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.
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 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.