Desolation Canyon Multi-day Family Rafting

Prior to this trip, I hadn’t been rafting for a while—maybe eight or nine years. My last trip was the section above this on the Green River: Lodore Canyon. I ran a boat for a family from Salt Lake City and started dreaming of bringing my own family-to-be on the river. Now, with my kids old enough to walk, play, and most importantly be able to manage falling in the river with a PFD on, we gladly accepted an invite from our neighbors, also a family of four, to join them on their Desolation Canyon river permit.

The main thing that made us ready to accept this invitation—probably only four or five weeks out from the trip itself—was the fact that our family had already been camping a number of times. And the family that invited us knew this. It could have been a very different trip if my kids had never been camping before and everything about this adventure was going to be new. But instead, with the camping experience under our belt, and the fact that we knew our kids and the neighbor kids were already good friends, all that was new was the rafting part. It reminds me a little of being prepared a few years ago to accept an invite to go canyoneering the next day

As always, these words and the video below only scratches the surface of the experience. One note of documenting family adventures is that those of us doing the documentation usually only show the good side of the trip. Sure, there were the usual upsets—kids not listening, getting hangry, needing to take some time alone, and such. But for the most part, both sets of kids on this trip did phenomenal. One challenge we had to manage was Rey’s diapers. I’m not sure why we didn’t think of packing swim diapers—but we didn’t. We thought it would be fine to let regular diapers sog out, but that was a bad move—it just started to fall apart. What a mess. The thing is, Rey is on the verge of being done with diapers. I think we subconsciously relied too heavily on the idea that maybe this trip would be his turning point. In the end we just took his diaper off for swim times and had them on overnight. We only had one poop in the pants accidents and that was while we were in the raft on the river. That was a tricky cleanup!

Ok, enough of the gory details. Check out the video below and let us know about your family adventure dreams or realities in the comments below!

Rafting, especially with a family takes lots of gear. We covered some of it in a separate post and video along with links to the gear.

About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.


Talk it up