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If you're short on time, but hungry for adventure, Westwater is your place.

Generally run as a 2-day expedition, GOALS offers an extended experience in the canyon often referred to as "Westy" by launching further upstream than most and exploring the calm, tranquil waters of Ruby and Horsethief Canyons before entering the rapids and excitement of Westwater.  You'll get accustomed to "river life" on the first 2 days of your trip, enjoying time in rafts, inflatable kayaks, and perhaps even SUPs (stand-up paddle boards) - then you'll discover why National Geographic recently named Westwater Canyon the "World's Best Short Whitewater Trip" on days 3 and 4. 

Aside from the excitement of rapids like Funnel Falls, Skull, Big Hummer, and Sock-It-To-Me, explorers in Westwater Canyon float past some unique history and geology that can only be viewed from the river.  You'll take a short hike to the "outlaw cave" - a hideout used by famous outlaws of the west that still contains clothing, beds, tools, and other relics left behind by outlaws who used the cave to evade capture by lawmen.  In addition, you'll lay eyes and hands on some of the oldest exposed rock on our planet, as the dark Vishnu Schist that forms much of the canyon walls is over 1.6 billion years old. 

You'll be in and out of Westwater before you know it - but the amount of excitement and exploration you've packed into 4 days will have you planning a return expedition before you even get to the take-out ramp! 

Westwater Canyon 5-day Expedition - Detailed Itinerary

Day 1. Travel to Loma. Meet at 11am at GOALS world headquarters in Evergreen, CO - please arrive with a belly full of lunch. Today, we travel to Highline State Park in Loma, where we’ll spend the late afternoon swimming in their large lake to beat the western slope heat. When night begins to fall, we’ll set up camp in the grassy tent sites and begin exploring the GOALS curriculum. As excited as we are, we’ll try to get a good night’s sleep tonight, as we officially begin our river adventure tomorrow morning!

Map of the Ruby / Horsethief section of the Colorado River - our first section of travel before entering Westwater Canyon. Courtesy of Colorado Canyons Association - numbers are mileage from Loma boat ramp.

Map of the Ruby / Horsethief section of the Colorado River - our first section of travel before entering Westwater Canyon. Courtesy of Colorado Canyons Association - numbers are mileage from Loma boat ramp.

Day 2. Getting in the flow. After packing up camp and a thorough safety talk, we’ll meet the rest of our professional guide crew and launch onto the Colorado River to begin our adventure. Slowly, the canyon walls will grow taller as we head downstream in rafts, inflatable kayaks, and on SUP boards. When our bellies tell us it’s time, we’ll pull over and make a delicious riverside lunch. After eating, we’ll continue downstream toward our first night’s camp - most likely in the area of the Cottonwood and Mee camps. As we float, we’ll be watching for bald eagles, river otters, and desert bighorn sheep. When we arrive at tonight’s camp, we’ll break into teams, some of whom will help in the kitchen, some on the boats, and some with setting up the camp itself. Late afternoon is a great time for camp games or a quick swim in a river eddy next to our large beach campsite to cool down. The kitchen crew will help our guides prepare tonight’s dinner, then we’ll circle up in the “living room” around a campfire and re-call our favorite parts of the day, play a game or two that our guides teach us, and ultimately retire to our tents or outdoor sleeping area for a great night of sleep under the desert stars.

Day 3. Floating toward Black Rocks. After waking up to the smell of fresh coffee and the sound of guides working on a delicious, hearty breakfast in the camp kitchen, we’ll find ourselves smiling as we recognize just how good it feels to be starting a new day on the Colorado River. The kitchen crew will find their way into the camp kitchen while the rest of us watch the day come to life as the sunlight warms the canyon. After enjoying breakfast, we’ll get motivated to break down camp and head for the river - floating through a beautiful section of Ruby Canyon that will lead us to the famous “Black Rocks section” - home to some of the oldest exposed rock on planet Earth. We’ll plan to camp in this section tonight, and should be able to enjoy even more time in camp this afternoon because we’ll have a shorter day on the river. Lots of exploring this afternoon - examining the unique shapes of the Black Rocks section surrounding our camp that have been carved by millions of years of water and wind. 

The famous rapids of Westwater Canyon.

The famous rapids of Westwater Canyon.

Day 4. Entering Westwater. As we leave the Black Rocks section today, we’ll head toward “Bald Eagle Alley” and the end of Ruby Canyon before checking in at the Westwater Ranger Station and beginning the “second phase” of the expedition. Westwater Canyon will feel very different than Ruby - there’s a different energy here that’s more exciting and intriguing. Entering “Westy” mid-day, we’ll take a short hike to the old miner’s cabin and talk about Westwater’s storied history. Continuing downstream, the walls will feel a bit taller and the canyon will become narrower than it was upstream in Ruby. Walls come to life with beautiful streaked colors of “desert varnish” as we move toward the heart of the canyon and the rapids we’ve been excitedly anticipating for several days. This afternoon, we’ll navigate a few splashy and fun Class II and III- rapids, floating to a campsite just above where the significant whitewater begins, leaving the real excitement for tomorrow! Since this is our last night in the canyon, we’ll spend some time on a solo this evening composing a thank-you letter to the canyon - a GOALS tradition, then reflecting together on the growth we’ve experienced individually and collectively during our time here. One more night under the desert stars, and an incredibly fun day of whitewater tomorrow still lie ahead!

Day 5. Rapids Day! Today is an exciting day - navigating the famous rapids of Westwater Canyon that include Funnel Falls, Skull, Sock-It-To-Me, Bowling Alley, and more. A nervous energy is often notable in camp this morning, as boats are rigged and rowed into the current. We’ll crash through big waves, row around huge boulders, then offer high-fives while hooting and hollering at the bottom of the rapids section. In between, we may hike to a cave where outlaws evaded law enforcement, and learn about the unique layers of geology in Westwater Canyon. By mid-afternoon, we’ll arrive at our take-out ramp near Cisco, UT - giving hugs to our guides after helping them load boats and gear onto trailers, and then we’ll head for home - generally arriving back to Evergreen, CO between 8-10pm.

Weather and Flows

Want to know what cubic feet per second (CFS) the river is flowing at? See what the river is flowing HERE

Costs and Inclusions

2019 cost per participant: $1340

GOALS all-inclusive rates extend beyond the unrivaled on-river experience. They also include all transportation (ground and air), lodging/campsites before and after the expedition, and all meals both on the river and on the road during our travel to/from the canyon. A detailed list of all inclusions (gear, government fees, supplies, etc.) is outlined below.   


  • Transportation from GOALS world headquarters in Evergreen, CO to Loma, CO at the beginning of the expedition and from Cisco, UT back to Evergreen, CO after the expedition.

  • ALL MEALS - from dinner on day 1 through dinner on day 5. This includes all meals on the road and in the canyon (4B, 4L, 5D) - and accounts for all dietary restrictions and preferences. No need to send kids with road money for anything other than snacks.

  • Campsite at Highline State Park in Loma, CO on night 1.

  • All launch fees and government use fees for Ruby and Westwater Canyon.

  • All the high-quality gear needed to be safe and comfortable in the canyon, excluding sleeping bags (which can be rented if necessary). Every participant will be afforded the use of a dry bag, personal flotation device, tent, camp chair, sleeping pad, and all river/kitchen gear needed.

  • Professional, licensed, and experienced river guides who know the GOALS curriculum and objectives.

  • GOALS curriculum journal and program t-shirt.

  • Memories and lessons that will last a lifetime.

Financial assistance from GOALS

We work hard throughout the year to raise money for financial assistance, and believe that cost should never prevent an interested and determined child from experiencing a GOALS expedition. Abundant financial assistance is available for those who qualify (see considerations below). In addition to the financial support we provide, GOALS also sponsors events to help students raise funds themselves, and provides a stand-alone electronic format for those who are not interested or available to participate in these events. Throughout our first 9 years of programming, GOALS has never been unable to provide enough support so that every interested child / family could be involved. This is a record we intend to keep intact in year 10, and every year in the future.

If you require financial assistance to participate in a GOALS expedition, please complete the general application form. On the last page of your application, respond appropriately in the box that asks about financial assistance from GOALS. If accepted to participate in the program for which you are applying, GOALS will then send you an electronic financial aid application. After it is completed and returned, our financial assistance committee will provide the most generous offer possible - based on a variety of factors including financial aid availability, parent and student contribution, household income, and additional financial commitments to programs and activities that advance your child’s personal growth. You may then choose to accept or decline our offer. If our offer is accepted, you can choose to make monthly payments leading up to the expedition launch or can pay a lump-sum balance for whatever funds have not been raised 30 days prior to the expedition. If our offer is declined, your deposit will be returned and your child’s spot will be offered to another applicant. Please contact GOALS if you have any questions.  ,