Western River Expeditions Gears Up For Record Rapid Descents Due to High and Fast Moving Snow-Melt Waters

Rafting from Camp to Camp Predicted to be 40% Faster Allowing More Time for Side Canyon Hiking 

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, June 13, 2011– As of early June, skiers were still enjoying fresh snow on many slopes of the Rockies. What this means for the Colorado and Green River drainages is record snowpack which has begun to flow downstream making river rafting pioneer Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) and their guests ecstatic. 

This comes as Western River Expeditions celebrates its 50thanniversary of running rivers in the West. They’re predicting 2011 to be one of the top three years in the past half century for high water and big rapids in Utah/Arizona on the Colorado River (Westwater, Cataract Canyon, Grand Canyon) and the best year ever on Utah’s Green River through Desolation Canyon. High, fast waters are predicted through July and into August. 

“Our guides report excellent runs (40 percent faster than normal) and very excited guests, with river levels you may not see again in your lifetime,” says Brian Merrill, CEO. “High water brings both the thrill and fun of a more exciting ride plus more time for off-river side canyon exploring. It also creates the need to be extra cautious. In pre- and post-trip team meetings we discuss how things are going, insights we’ve learned from our expert guides and how to best handle the ever-changing water conditions.” 

"Some guests are not looking for white-knuckle whitewater.  For them, the perfect trip is down the Green River through Desolation Canyon. The high water makes this 4 or 5 day trip extra fun, but the rapids are not as large as those in Cataract Canyon, Westwater Canyon, and the Grand Canyon.  If people still want to experience this historic year on the river, we still have a few spots available on the Green River and Cataract Canyon for 2011.” says Merrill. 

Statistically as of early June the Colorado River Basin sat at 263 percent of normal and the Green River portion of the Basin was at 465 percent of normal, making it the highest year on record. Because of a cooler-than-normal spring, water is coming down in a more controlled fashion. This means high water, spread out over a longer period of time, which means more exciting rafting well into July. Peak flow is expected late June. 

Merrill says this year’s training focused on issues associated with high water: adjusting to much faster river speeds, dealing with obstacles that exist now because the high water is flowing over them, and excess driftwood in the water that has been washed off the banks upstream. 

Water being released through the Grand Canyon out of Glen Canyon Dam is 30-40 percent higher than average. Even with excess water being let out of Lake Powell to help fill Lake Mead, Lake Powell is still expected to rise by 30 feet this summer.  This will put it within 50 feet of being completely full.  Just three years ago, Lake Powell was down over 150 feet.


Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).


Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah rafting, and Idaho rafting trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. Today it pursues a “guiding green” philosophy and belongs to some of the top environmentally conscious organizations in the world: Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, American Rivers, Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics, Utah Rivers Council, America Outdoors, and National River Cleanup Week. See: http://www.westernriver.com/whywestern/environment.php 

In 2009, Western River Expeditions was named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company was recently honored as the 2011 recipient of "Best of State" through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program. This is the eighth consecutive year Western River Expeditions has earned this distinction. 

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