Colorado River - Cataract Canyon



Cataract canyon is the "mini" Grand Canyon trip.  112 miles of some of the best scenery, camping, hikes and whitewater anywhere in the world.  Even though the whitewater section of Cataract is only 15 miles long with lots of flatwater above and below it is some of the biggest whitewater at high flows.

Most put in at Potash below Moab.  From there you have around 40 miles of flat water taking you through turn after turn of Dead Horse Point scenery.  In fact you will float right by Dead Horse Point.  Many excellent side hikes, ruins and pictographs can be found in this upper section.  From Lathrop canyon you could access the white rim trail which is epic in its own right.

Below the confluence with the Green River you have about 4 miles until the rapids begin.  This is also the area where you can camp and get into the Maze via the Dollhouse hike.  You need to practice appropriate back country travel in this area to prevent erosion.  You also need to stash your boats and gear in a way that wind or animals can't get into food or other items.

The whitewater section contains all the action that you see on youtube.  Rapids are number in sequence and can be viewed below in detail.  

Below Imperial Canyon you reach the upper stretches of Lake Powell and slow going currents and flatwater to the takeout.  Lake Powell's water level determines how much rowing or motoring you will end up doing.  Some folks like to tie everything together and night float this section while others insist on having a motor in the group to deal with the flatwater above or below the rapids.  If you do decide to run this without a motor make sure you take into account water flow, Lake Powell levels and wind forecasts.  It can be done without a motor but set your expectations accordingly.

Water Level Break Down for How Scared you will be in Cataract

- 25K CFS and lower - Class III rock dodgy I can tell my Mom I did 'Cat' and survived.  
- 25K to 35K CFS - Class III to IV things are serious now and I hope my gear stays in my boat when I flip.
- 35K to 40K CFS - Class III to IV cat is running in the dirty 30's and chances of getting worked are realistic
- 40K to 100K CFS - Class IV+ I hope my life insurance is paid up and bring a change of pants for when you scout the big drops.

NOTE: The CFS reported for this run is the sum total of the colorado river's cisco gauge and the green river's green river gauge.  That means you are seeing the combined flow below the confluence and what is actually flowing through the rapids section of this run.  When putting on on either river remember the flow will be slightly smaller until you reach the confluence.  See each rivers upstream runs to see what the respective flows are.

Permits are easy to get, see the permit section.  Have fun and stay safe in this magical canyon.


Class III to IV
Current Flow 31600.0 CFS
05-23-2024 05:45
Alternative Flow
18000.0 CFS
05-23-2024 05:45

View River Forecast

Estimated Flow
Alternative Flow
13600.0 CFS
05-23-2024 05:45

View River Forecast

Estimated Flow
Recommended Flow Minimum: 3500.0
Average: 27000.0
Maximum: 50000.0
Typical Season Begins: January
Ends: December
Recommended Use Kayaking: Yes
Rafting: Yes
Canoeing: No
Packrafting: No
Fishing: No
Length 112.0 Mile(s)
Gradient 16.0 FPM

Little Niagra - 85K

07-01-2011 - Don't worry, it will only eat 30' JRigs