The section of the Yampa River that flows through Colorado's Dinosaur National Monument is one of the most beloved river trips in the country. The canyon is full of incredible desert scenery, archaeological masterpieces, and spacious campsites and offers some of the best hiking opportunities on a western river. Because it is the only free-flowing river in the entire Colorado River Basin, flows fluctuate naturally and trips have an exceptional sense of wildness to them.

Featured Outfitters

ARTA River TripsARTA River Trips (800) 323-2782 is a non-profit organization that runs 14 of the best rivers in the West.

Holiday River ExpeditionsHoliday River Expeditions (800) 624-6323 Perfect for people wanting to experience a truly natural river, whitewater enthusiasts, and families with kids eight and older; Experience "The Holiday Way", running rivers without motors since 1966.

The Yampa can be done in five or six days which includes about three days on the Yampa and two or three days below the confluence with the Green River, all of them within Dinosaur National Monument. The second section on the Green goes through historic Echo Park which was the site of proposed dams and the birthplace of the modern environmental movement. In a strategy that David Brower called the most regrettable decision in the history of the Sierra Club, Echo Park on the Green was protected and Glen Canyon on the Colorado was sacrificed, dammed and flooded.

Most rapids are Class II or III with the exception of Warm Springs which is a big class IV rapid with a flipper wave to avoid and some additional holes. The campsites are spacious and several offer side hikes to view points or archaeological sites. The canyon walls are incredible and offer jaw-dropping views and vistas for the majority of the trip. The museum and quarry near the take-out are fascinating and worth a visit.

Harding Hole Campsite - Photo by Kavita Heyn

Harding Hole Campsite - Photo by Kavita Heyn

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in at Deerlodge Park Boat Ramp and Campground on river left.

Mile 1.5: Enter Yampa Canyon

Mile 7.5: Thanksgiving Gorge enters on the left.

Mile 42: Warm Springs Rapid (IV-) is the biggest of the stretch and should be scouted.

Scouting Warm Springs Rapid - Photo by Kavita Heyn

Scouting Warm Springs Rapid - Photo by Kavita Heyn

Mile 46: Confluence with the Green River.

Mile 71: Takeout at Split Mountain on the Green River.