Whitewater in Dinosaur National Monument

Renting an RV from Cruise America allowed us to comfortably tour the National Parks of Colorado. You can read our full review of Cruise America rental RVs here. You can also view our entire 3,200 mile Summer road trip itinerary to Colorado and Utah by clicking here.

Once we left Rocky Mountain National Park, we had about a 4.5 hour drive to Vernal in Utah where we would camp for the next two nights at Utah’s Red Fleet State Park.  By the time we arrived in Vernal it was already dark and the deserted road to the park was absolutely creepy! Since we didn’t exactly know where we were going and the road was not lit, we accidentally passed the park entrance and continued down the dark two lane road.  Eventually we came upon a “Danger” sign warning of underground explosions overnight due to the presence of fracking in the region.  Yikes! Carefully turning around (which is harder than it sounds in the big RV!), we eventually found the entrance sign.  Parking in our reserved spot, we all went right to sleep.

Red Fleet State Park

We woke up to the sun rise in the morning to beautiful views of the Red Fleet Reservoir and the surrounding desert. Only a few other campsites were full in this small and pretty park. Located near Dinosaur National Monument, the entire area is rich in dinosaur fossils and there are several preserved 200 million year old dinosaur tracks on the surrounding trail. Maya and I were the first ones up and we explored the area around the water reading the interpretive signs for a bit before eating breakfast.

Red Fleet State Park in Vernal, Utah

Maya and I On a Morning Walk in Red Fleet State Park in Vernal, Utah

Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Footprints in Red Fleet State Park

Red Fleet State Park

Early Morning in Red Fleet State Park

Whitewater Rafting in Dinosaur National Monument

Once everyone was awake, we all got ready to head into town to Don Hatch River Expeditions where we would be taking a white water rafting day trip on the Green River through Dinosaur National Monument. We were all excited as we parked the RV around 8:30 AM and headed to the headquarters where we had reserved spots on the Split Mountain Canyon Day Trip. Covering approximately 9 river miles, it sounded like the perfect trip for us with just the right amount of thrill for our mixed age group.  Once there, the river guides introduced themselves, divided the group into boats, fitted us for life vests and explained both our itinerary and water safety.  Only two boats were on the day’s trip with our family in one, and two smaller family groups in the other each with a river guide. It was great to have such a small group!

Whitewater Rafting in Dinosaur National Monument Don Hatch River Expeditions in Vernal, Utah

Whitewater Rafting in Dinosaur National Monument  Don Hatch River Expeditions in Vernal, Utah

Whitewater Rafting in Dinosaur National Monument  On the Bus With Don Hatch River Expeditions in Vernal, Utah

Whitewater Rafting in Dinosaur National Monument  Don Hatch River Expeditions in Vernal, Utah

Whitewater Rafting in Dinosaur National Monument

Once our instructions were complete, we hopped into buses to take us into Dinosaur National Monument to see some beautiful Native American petroglyphs before the drop off point on the Green River. The entire drive with the short hike took about 1.5 hours. Well versed in the history of the region, our guides interpreted to our group the 1,000 year old petroglyphs made by the Fremont people. The petroglyphs were fascinating to see and I am so glad they were part of our rafting trip!

Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument

Petroglyphs in Dinosaur National Monument

Petroglyphs in Dinosaur National Monument

Petroglyphs in Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach

At the drop off point we were all giddy with excitement as we put on our life vests and got in our boats.  The rapids were perfect- exciting and just a little scary, and we LOVED going through them. It was the perfect first whitewater experience for our kids. Time passed quickly and before we knew it we had gone through 3 rapids and had arrived at “Hatch Beach” to have a picnic lunch and swim for a while.  Don Hatch’s group had a great spread for us with the fixings for deli sandwiches and PB & J, chips, fruit, cookies and drinks and we all enjoyed lunch before taking a swim in the river. This was so much fun as the current was pretty strong and pulled us along the shore. The water was cold but felt great since the summer sun was scorching.  Sunscreen is a definite must!

Whitewater in  Dinosaur National Monument

Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Hatch Beach- Split Mountain Canyon

After lunch we climbed back in our boats for a few more miles on the river. As happens with all exciting things, the trip was over too quickly and before we knew it we were at the pick up spot for the bus ride back to the headquarters.  I can not say enough good things about Don Hatch’s!  Our guides were fantastic, the rapids were fun, the food was yummy and we all had a blast! The scenery was absolutely beautiful as well. I would not hesitate to take another trip with them and thoroughly recommend this trip for anyone wanting a white water trip in the area.

Finishing Our Ride- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Finishing Our Ride- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Finishing Our Ride- Whitewater Rafting in  Dinosaur National Monument

Once back at the headquarters we loaded into the RV to head back to Red Fleet.  After making dinner we took a long walk around the park (where we saw mountain lion tracks in the sand!) and visited with our camping neighbors. Several boats were out on the water but overall the park was remarkably uncrowded for being in the middle of summer. We enjoyed sitting at the picnic tables playing cards and found this to be a great park as a base camp for visiting Dinosaur Monument.

Red Fleet State Park

Red Fleet State Park

Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Track Trail

After all sleeping well we woke up the next morning and took another hike before leaving the park. This time we took the dinosaur track trail for the short but somewhat challenging 2 mile hike to see the tracks.  It felt pretty amazing to touch actual tracks from dinosaurs! The hike was pretty and we all enjoyed it.

Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

Views From Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

Dinosaur Track Trail in Red Fleet State Park

We loved our trip to Dinosaur and think exploring it from the river was especially fun. The kids still talk about it and beg to take another white water rafting trip.  We left Red Fleet State Park feeling grateful for our wonderful visit and hoping we could go back someday.

Have you every been on the Whitewater in Dinosaur National Monument?  I’d love to hear about it!

Happy Travels!

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10 replies on “Whitewater in Dinosaur National Monument”
  1. says: Terri

    That looks awesome! The kids look like they are having a blast and the dinosaur prints are very cool. I especially love the handprint picture. I wish we were going near there on our trip out west next year, but we will be further south in Utah.

  2. says: sharon

    What a great family trip! We’ve never taken our kids white water rafting, and I have to admit that I don’t normally think of rafting out in Utah. Shows how much I don’t know. This is definitely a cool looking place.

  3. says: Kiera

    It’s amazing to me how much I’ve traveled and yet how little I’ve seen of this country. Really nice read, thank you!

  4. says: Michelle

    So glad you got to see such a fun part of Utah! A lot of people never think about it when they plan their big vacations here. The Green River is a great place for rafting, too! Makes me think we should pack the car for a quick weekend trip out there soon.

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