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Old 11-28-2011   #41
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 524
Lodore is my favorite kids trip.
I used to work for Adrift under their prior owners, and still work occasionally for Holiday. Both are family friendly and can ensure you have female guides.

The NPS keeps a list of everyone who is permitted to run the stretch:
Dinosaur National Monument - Commercial Guided River Trips (U.S. National Park Service)
Not too many if you want to do an exhaustive comparison. OARS and Hatch are the same company in Dino, and NOLS & OBW don't really do what youre looking for - that doesn't leave many to call.
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Old 11-28-2011   #42
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Originally Posted by Greg Pinch View Post
Someone on here suggested Dinosaur Expiditons in Vernal.
I noticed that they offer packages where the kids would go for free.

Obviously that would be a HUGE savings for me.

I understand this company has new owners.
Has anyone have direct experience with this company?
Another thumbs up for Lodore Canyon. The scenery is outstanding, and definitely a big change from Canada. Your kids will love Butt Plug Falls if you camp at Jones Hole.
I'll check with my "Home Girl" in Vernal and see what I can find out about Dinosaur Expeditions.

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Old 11-28-2011   #43
Toronto, Canada
Paddling Since: 20
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 30
Hi again cataraftgirl !

Thanks for the reply.

It's looking really good about going to Lodore Canyon.
I can get direct flights into SLC, and Dinosaur Expeditions offers great deals for kids.
We have to supply our own tent and sleeping bag etc, which of course is no problem.

Dinosaur Expeditions is on the NPS list of approved outfitters.

Looking forward to hear what your "Home Girl" has to say.
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Old 11-28-2011   #44
Los Alamos, New Mexico
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 168
Originally Posted by Greg Pinch View Post
The window for when we can do this is Aug 22- 30th.
Of all your requirements this is the one that most narrows down your choice of trips. Many of the multi-day trips in the Rockies and Utah desert would be great for you and your kids, but they are dependent on snow melt and trips that late in the summer can be a challenge.

If it is possible to do something earlier in the season it would open up a bunch more rivers. At the very least keep that in mind for the trip(s) that follow this one.

In particular the lower section of the San Juan (below Mexican Hat) in Utah would be great. The rapids are all easy except for one so you might be able to paddle inflatable kayaks with the guide carrying the gear in a raft (carry the IKs around the one real rapid if needed). You can run it at the end of August (I just did this summer) but it is boney and kinda hot. Lots of fossils and cool geology.

It is a bit of a drive to get there from any major airport, but you might be able to fly in closer (Farmington or Durango).

This would also be a good river to tackle with another family someday. The scenery will blow your mind (spoken as a transplanted easterner).

I wish you the best and good on you to be getting out with your kids on wilderness trips. All of the coolest, most grounded adults I know did a bunch of wilderness camping with their family growing up. It is truly a priceless gift to your children to spend that time together.

George Marsden
Los Alamos, NM
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Old 11-28-2011   #45
Toronto, Canada
Paddling Since: 20
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 30
Thanks George,

I appreciate the kind words and wisdom!
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Old 11-29-2011   #46
Herndon, Virginia
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 3
So, your major constraints are:
Dad, 9.5 year old daughter, and 7.5 year old son
Aug 22 - 30th
Flying out of Toronto
Prefers at least one female guide

If you're looking to minimize the cost, I'd suggest you consider <>. They are a non-profit, so their prices are a bit less than some of their competitors while, so far as I can tell (I've run two trips with them), their services are quite similar. ARTA runs trips on a few rivers in California, Colorado/Utah, Idaho, and Oregon.

My personal favorite river is the Middle Fork of the Salmon (MFS). It's truly one of the best multi-day wilderness river experiences to easily be had. The Main Salmon is also fine; however, there's a reason I've boated the MFS on the order of 30 times and the Main only 2 or 3. By late August, flows on the Middle Fork are increasingly problematic; most outfitters plan to start flying into a wilderness airstrip 25 miles downstream from the upper put-in for their August launches (although in exceptionally good years, they can "go from the top" well into August. The Middle Fork is spectacular (dropping some 3000 feet from high alpine forest into high desert). The Main Salmon is more subdued, but arguably more kid friendly -- by August it'll offer large sandy beaches perfect for playing on and water well-suited for swimming (in truth, staying cool may be a problem).

ARTA's Main Salmon Newcomer trip launches August 25 and runs $1059/adult (their children's price is typically $999 on the Main); it'd be better if your dates corresponded to their Family trip, but dates are dates. The Middle Fork is more expensive. ARTA has some wonderful female guides and, of late, their regular Main Salmon lead guide has been a woman (but you should confirm that she'll be working your trip). In fact, I just noticed that they've got her picture and bio up at <>.

Another excellent family-owned outfitter on the Main Salmon is <>. If you talk to the owner ahead of time, he'll often bring one of his daughters (or nowadays his grandchildren) specifically to help with little ones of the trip.

As for the Colorado/Utah options: Gates of Lodore run on the Green and the Yampa River.

The Yampa is mostly free-flowing and the commercials usually stop running it by July 1. It's highly unlikely you'll find a commercial trip there in August.

The Green is dam controlled and will almost certainly be running. At normal flows both this section of the Green and the Yampa are mostly float trips punctuated by very few rapids. The terrain is interesting. But I'd personally try really hard to go to the extra effort to make the Idaho trips (and I say that having boated all 4 runs within the last 2 years (all but Lodore this year)).

I'm not overly familiar with the commercial outfitters in Colorado/Utah; however, I do know that ARTA runs trips there and the same female guide who has been the lead guide for them on the Main for a couple of years was working down there in June. But I don't see any August trips on their calendar.

Blah, blah, blah.

If you're running the Main Salmon, you're probably going to have to pay for the puddle jumper flights. But you might save money by renting a car in Boise, driving it to the "takeout" (McCall for most outfitters), and taking the shuttle flights from there to Salmon.

If you're running the Middle Fork Salmon (in late August), most outfitters will arrange to fly you from Boise to the backcountry strip, and will drop you off at the Salmon airport for the puddle jumper flight back to Boise.

But in both cases above, you can probably get out of paying for 3 people flying 2 relatively expensive puddle jumper trips...

Good luck and have fun,

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Old 11-29-2011   #47
Medford, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 88
Look into the lower rogue out Merlin Oregon. You can do camping trips or lodge trips. It's a wild and scenic river. Most company's offer kids trips. A good company to go with would be rogue wilderness adventures or northwest rafting company. PM me if you would like more information.
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Old 02-12-2012   #48
Toronto, Canada
Paddling Since: 20
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 30
Just thought I would follow-up to let everyone know where we ended up booking.

As you all know I am a single dad so I am at the mercy of my x-wife's schedule a bit.
She ended up changing the summer plans so I now have my kids for the last 2 weeks of June into July.
This actually worked out for the best.

So, from Toronto we are flying into Denver and spending a bunch of days in Colorado and the Moab area before ending up at Vernal Utah.

We have booked a trip through Dinosaur Expeditions (under new ownership).
We are doing the Green River to Gates of Lodore.
DE ended up really working for us as one of my kids goes for free, the second kid is at a greatly reduced rate and there are no additional flights required.

After the trip we are stopping in at Dinosaur Nation Monument and heading over to the Bonniville Salt Flats and flying home from Salt Lake City.

Thanks to all that helped me make this trip happen.
Should be a great trip !
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Old 02-12-2012   #49
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Thanks for the update. Nothing better for kids these days than a wilderness river trip. Drag them away from computers & video games and let them have some fun in the great outdoors. Have a great trip. Lodore is beautiful.
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Old 02-12-2012   #50
Toronto, Canada
Paddling Since: 20
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 30
Thanks so much.

My kids spend a whole month at an incredible summer camp in Northern Ontario.
They both have taken a strong interest in canoe tripping so the rafting trip will strengthen their love of water and paddling.

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