Rafting and Hiking Adventures in the Grand Canyon and Moab Utah

Rafting and Hiking Adventures in the Grand Canyon and Moab Utah

Desolation Canyon – by Western River Expeditions 

Rafting and Hiking Adventures in the Grand Canyon and Moab Utah

Western River Expeditions – Summer has arrived and it is hiking season. Time to get out the hiking poles, the binoculars, the camera, and a yummy selection of day trip hiking munchies and set out to explore some of the most beautiful terrain in the west. The whitewaters are just waiting for adventure seekers to explore the rapids around the Grand Canyon and Moab, Utah. What a great combination to take off river rafting and then explore some of the most remote hiking trails in Arizona and Utah.

“Some of the most magical places in the West can only be accessed via a river,” Says Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, and escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company of it’s kind. 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/).

Come for the Whitewater Thrills, Be Amazed by the Off-River Hikes

Photo by Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions, over its 60 years of commercial river running, has mastered the art of combining the elements – water, land, air, and sky– into some of the world’s most sought-after adventure vacations.

This company’s particular alchemy mixes up whitewater thrills and opportunities for some exceptional hiking in the fresh air. “Folks love to run the rapids with us, but truth is, some people come rafting just to go hiking and see sites that are only accessible by river,” explains Brandon Lake, co-owner of Western River Expeditions.

Following are four whitewater destinations that provide unique access to hiking trails so remote they are generally only reached via the river through the conveyance of a raft.

Here are some of the adventure raft and hike expeditions they offer!

Cataract Canyon Utah by Western River Expeditions

Cataract Canyon – Colorado River, Utah


Indian Creek Falls

River Mile 31
3.5-miles roundtrip Vertical gain of 100 feet

This is the hike to take to view a spectacular seasonal waterfall, towering 2,000-foot canyon walls, and Native American ruins. After an easy streamside walk, guests are treated to The Falls – a thundering 20-foot cascade that’s best in the spring when runoff and seasonal rains create an impressive streamflow. Ancestral Puebloan rock art and well-preserved granaries along the way speak to past lives. Modern adventurers can soak under the falls, dip in the natural pool, or partake in a round of butt slides.

Loop Hike

River Mile 36.5 1.3-mile Length
Vertical gain of 400 feet

Another must-do hike is the Loop Hike offering an up-and-over adventure through a saddle in the canyon wall that crosses a horseshoe bend in the river which eliminates four miles of river travel. Hikers gain impressive views as they scramble over a large ridge at the base of a massive curve in the river.

Family Fun on Green River – by Western River Expeditions

Desolation Canyon – Green River, Utah


Rock Creek Ranch Trail

River Mile 41 Short hike

An easy trail from the river leads to Rock Creek Ranch, the site of a former hideaway on the Outlaw Trail where Butch Cassidy and his gang of desperados were known to have holed up. Built in 1914 by the Seamont family, this ranch in the deepest part of Desolation Canyon served as a homestead, orchard, and outpost. Unrestored buildings display century-old homemaking and farming equipment. Although abandoned in the 1920s, ancient orchards still bear fruit come August. Be sure to visit the outstanding petroglyphs and ancient granaries nearby.

Three Canyon Hikes

River Mile 54
Various options for length and elevation gain

Here, three secluded canyons come together creating an abundance of exploring opportunities. The Three Canyon Loop hike follows a route around a large butte just behind camp. From camp, a 20-minute walk from the river leads to a natural bridge. Following the trail for an hour hike from camp leads to the Three Canyon Overlook, which offers one of the most spectacular views in the canyon. From the overlook, you can see two miles upriver. Only for the avid, this is a fairly strenuous hike.

Upper Grand Canyon Hike by Western River Expeditions

Grand Canyon (Upper Section), Colorado River


Nankoweap Canyon and Granaries

River Mile 53
Two-mile roundtrip hike Elevation gain of 700 feet

A trail from the camp below the mouth of Nankoweap Canyon leads hikers up a steep slope to one of the most sought-after views the canyon has to offer. Above this viewpoint in the limestone walls under an overhang sit four granaries, or storage units built and utilized by Native Americans. These canyon dwellers practiced hunting and gathering in the canyon and grew crops roughly 1,000 years ago on the delta below. At 700 feet above the river, a flat overlook provides a breathtaking vista downriver encompassing a world of towering red canyon walls, sparkling whitewater, and blue sky.

Deer Creek Falls

River Mile 136
Trail Options from 200 yards to four-miles roundtrip

Just 200 yards from where the rafts are tied-off, Deer Creek Falls thunders into the Colorado River. The 180-foot falls land into a pool perfect for a swim. Adventurous hikers can journey further down a trail to The Patio with sensational Kaibab Plateau views along the way. Reaching The Patio requires careful footwork and cool-headedness to navigate a short narrow ledge with a precarious drop.

Grand Canyon Lower Section, Colorado River


Travertine Falls and Grotto

River Mile 229 Two-mile roundtrip hike

Just a few miles below Diamond Creek, is one of the most special places in the Grand Canyon’s lower Granite Gorge. Mineral-rich water drops down a waterfall through a narrow canyon and then cascades over a second falls in a setting often described as an oasis. The clear and refreshing waters of Travertine are always a welcome experience in the heat of the Lower Canyon. Then comes a scramble with a little help from ropes and ladders into a magical grotto sprinkled with spring water and a waterfall.

Pumpkin Springs

River Mile 213
Adjacent to the river (scrambling, no hiking)

A popular stop for all Lower Canyon river trips, Pumpkin Springs can only be accessed by boat. The Springs, because of mineral-laden water and constant evaporation, has created a travertine dome or bowl resembling a gigantic pumpkin. Water pours into the top of the pumpkin, turns a murky green, and then runs over the sides and into the river below. This is a fantastic spot for cliff jumping into the river.

Cat Indian Creek by Willie Holdman


About Western River Expeditions

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for the past seventeen consecutive years (2004-2020).

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2021 catalog, questions, availability, and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669) or visit the recently enhanced website at: http://www.westernriver.com/.

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What’s New In Sonoma Valley This Summer

What’s New In Sonoma Valley This Summer

What’s New in Sonoma Valley This Summer

Summer is here; California is opening up and the Sonoma Valley is the best place to tiptoe back into travel. The 17-mile-long valley encompasses the city of Sonoma and the villages of Carneros, The Springs, Glen Ellen, and Kenwood. Sonoma Wine Country is buzzing with fresh wine and food experiences, hotel news, and the return of live theater. Plus, NASCAR is back in Sonoma!

Now that wine country is opening back up again, it is time to make that trip you have been planning to the Sonoma Valley. Whether it is a day trip up from around the Bay Area or a multi-day destination trip, there is lots to do and discover in the Valley of the Moon – Sonoma Valley.

It’s easier than ever to get to Sonoma Valley from Southern California. Avelo Airlines launched a new service from Burbank to the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS) last month. Avelo, the first new airline in the U.S. in 15 years, is starting flights at $39 each way.


Sosie Tasting Room

Sosie Wines’ brand-new tasting room brings French-inspired wine to the Sonoma Plaza. Sosie’s organically and sustainably farmed grapes evoke California Sun and French Soul. The winery makes fewer than 1000 cases of wines including Pinot Noir, GSM, and Roussanne as well as some exciting blends. The new tasting room is open seven days a week.

If you prefer your tasting with a side of activity, Anaba Wines pairs their tasting flight with wood-fired pizza at their Sonoma estate and a round of bocce ball. Wine club members can reserve the new paddle tennis court with the purchase of a bottle of wine. St. Francis Winery – which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – now features the Tour de St. Francis. Climb aboard the fully sustainable, pedal-powered, tasting trolley and embark on this fun and informative roving wine tasting adventure while sipping wines among the vines.

Cline Family Cellars

Kick back in a cabana while sipping at Cline Family Cellars. The cabanas overlook the Great Lawn creating a relaxing escape for up to six friends. The cabana program includes a two-hour rental, a bottle of Nancy’s Sparkling Cuvee, and a basket of delicious snacks. This experience is $60+ per person ($50+ for club members). Cabana season is also picnic season! Muscardini Cellars invites wine lovers and their furry friends to enjoy afternoon wine tasting in their serene backyard garden. Pack a picnic and Muscardini will supply the handcrafted Italian-style wines. Reservations are required.

Another new tasting experience will invigorate the senses! Landmark Vineyard’s lush gardens at the Kenwood Estate are the backdrop for an educational journey of the senses, using fresh herbs and flowers to explore sound, sight, smell, touch, and taste and learn how to identify them in your glass. Take away the visuals and notice how your sense of taste changes at one of Three Sticks Wines’ blind tasting experiences. The new tasting kit includes four top-rated white wines, a wine aroma kit, and a how-to guide that can be enjoyed at the Adobe or at home. Three Sticks is also partnering with MacArthur Place to offer hotel guests a one-of-a-kind experience: the Durell Vineyard Excursion. Guests will tour the 610-acre vineyard on a Kubota and enjoy a private luncheon with five Durell Vineyard wines.

Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon Winery’s new Happy Hour Boxes let you bring wine country home. The bundle, which can be shipped around the country, includes a bottle of 2017 Chardonnay, a reusable glass, and a happy hour recipe.

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Tradition and change combine at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. The winery is now hosting Italian Aperitivo tastings in the Grand Piazza – an homage to their family history. The flight is light in style and the flavor profile is enhanced by salty snacks. The winery has also redesigned its wine labels to match their new experiences. The new art takes its inspiration from old Italian wine labels and from 1970s rural California when Fred Cline spent time with his Italian grandparents on their farm in Oakley and gained his love of wine, agriculture, and farming.

Aperitivo Tasting at Jacuzzi


Mayo Orange Wine

Orange wine is made from white grapes but fermented on the skins creating a beautiful summery color. Mayo Family Winery is releasing their first orange vintage, the 2019 Chardonnay, Laurel Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, “Orange Cuvée,” with aromas of orange peel, butterscotch, and candied lemons. The tasting room is open daily. Bartholomew Estate’s new release, 2019 “Bart’s Calling” Cabernet Sauvignon, offers classic aromas of plum, cedar, and tea leaf – and the winery will donate $5 for each bottle sold to the Sonoma Community Center’s scholarship programs.

As you begin to gather with friends, consider Hanson of Sonoma as your event venue. The pond-side seating area and bar are ideal for birthday parties, baby or bridal showers, and other celebrations. While there, enjoy their new summer cocktail menu featuring Strawberry Blush, made with Hanson’s Habanero Organic Vodka and fresh berries, and sample pizza from their new wood-fired oven.


Dining in Sonoma Valley

The Sonoma Plaza will soon be home to the Sausage Emporium. Husband and wife team David Cummings and Miranda Ives started the Hare & Hatter Sausage Emporium a few years ago, specializing in high-quality sausage sandwiches to-go. This month they are reopening in a new location on East Napa Street and will serve dine-in breakfast, brunch, and lunch along with local beer, wine, and coffee.

El Dorado Hotel

In addition to their new pop-up El Dorado Cantina, the El Dorado Hotel + Kitchen is now offering Taco Tuesday rates at the hotel. Guests who book on a Tuesday/Wednesday stay through August will receive a special rate and a credit to indulge in the Cantina’s Mexican street-style fare. The special rates are available online. For a taste of Oaxaca, Sonoma Eats’menu offers authentic cuisine, showcased best in its signature mole oaxaqueño. This neighborhood favorite- now with a lively new patio- is where those who are in the know go.

Sonoma Eats

The girl & the fig is getting into the summer mood with a new cocktail menu that includes Sorbet Sippers. The frozen drinks, which include frosé (strawberry sorbet + rosé), bitter bruto (lemon-lime sorbet, bruto americano, orange peel), and black cherry Manhattan (black cherry sorbet, bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, brandied cherries). The restaurant is also bringing back $15 wine flights and its popular Plats du Jour, a three-course meal that changes weekly for $45.

The girl and the fig cocktails


The Lodge at Sonoma New Lobby

This summer, The Lodge at Sonoma is unveiling a multi-year, multi-million-dollar renovation as part of its rebrand as an Autograph Collection property. The new brand celebrates the “salt of the earth” spirit of Sonoma with location-focused design and major enhancements. When guests arrive, they’ll be greeted with new landscaping and water feature before entering the redesigned lobby. The Lodge’s rooms are all getting a refresh. Hotel rooms will have new soft goods, bathroom amenities, and artwork; the cottages will see new landscaping, artwork and some will have outdoor fireplaces; the suites will have outdoor soaking tubs, outdoor fireplaces, and fully redesigned interiors. In addition to the popular new Wit & Wisdom restaurant, the Lodge is adding the High Horse Bar and Benicia’s Kitchen Restaurant. A new pool deck and firepit will follow later this summer.

The JAK W Casitas is a modern, eco-friendly retreat located in the heart of Boyes Hot Springs, just minutes from the Plaza. Built in 1920 and completely renovated in 2017, these gorgeous rental properties are outfitted with organic bedding, designer finishes, and tailored to give you an unforgettable Sonoma holiday. Love the sustainable design – visit the JAK W store at the Plaza before you head home.

Opening this summer, Bungalows 313’s newest luxury rentals are inside a fully remodeled and seismically retrofitted historic 1907 stone building. The units – known as Cielo and Terra – blend effortlessly into the nostalgic look and feel of old Sonoma. Each unit is distinctly different in design, but the two-bedroom, two-bath units stay true to the building’s history.

The Bar at MacArthur Place

It’s lavender season and MacArthur Place is celebrating this earthy, floral herb with special cocktails at The Bar. The Spa at MacArthur steeps the guest in the soothing aromas of lavender (sourced locally from Matanzas Creek Winery) during the Soothing Sonoma Lavender Massage. If you want to take some Sonoma lavender home with you, the hotel is hosting a Lavender Floral Workshop on Thursday, June 17. More information is online.

Built in 1910, the Maysonnave House, a beautiful historic setting for an intimate outdoor wedding or event, is now accepting reservations online. Less than a block away from the Sonoma Plaza, the beautiful Victorian home is one of Sonoma’s most treasured historic properties


Platypus Tours

After a year-long hiatus, Platypus Wine Tours is back with fun, day-long tours of Sonoma. The tour includes a picnic lunch, stops at three wineries, and engaging tour guides with deep experience in California’s wine country. Group and private tours are available. Active Wine Adventures has launched a new lineup of private Wine Adventures Tours for couples or small groups. The owner/guide has curated itineraries featuring highly recommended, small-production, family-owned wineries. Guests can choose from the Carneros/Pinot Noir Lovers’ Tour, Eco-Friendly Winery Tour, Moon Mountain Tour, or Historic Winery Tour.

Happy Travelers Tours has been providing educational cannabis tours since 2018 and their 2021 Weed & Wine Tour season is underway. The tour takes visitors through the Sonoma Valley to their grow site atop the Mayacamas Mountains. The experience includes a “Sip-and-Sniff” experience to taste wine and compare cannabis flowers, followed by a catered lunch and time at “Cannabis Camp” where guests learn to manicure a bud, process it for rolling, and then try to roll a joint.

Happy Travelers

Arts & Culture

Art is everywhere in Sonoma Valley. Several murals are coming to the towns of Sonoma and Glen Ellen. The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) has announced that artist Maria de Los Angeles will create two murals on area buildings starting this summer. SVMA, in collaboration with the City of Sonoma, is also presenting the public art installation, A Delicate Balance. The eight large-scale sculptures, by four artists from diverse backgrounds, are installed in the Sonoma Plaza and can be viewed through October 19, 2021.

Bartholomew Estate Winery has reopened its art gallery featuring Sonoma Plein Air artists. Private viewing sessions are available in the property’s historic winery building. In turn, Sonoma Plein Air donates 25-percent of the proceeds from art sales to support art education in local schools and community organizations.

Live theater is back! Transcendence Theatre Company announced the 2021 anniversary season
of Broadway Under the Stars, which will run from June 4 through September 19, 2021. This season marks the company’s 10th anniversary, and its annual celebration of Broadway will cap the celebrate community heroes and the return of live theatre at Jack London State Historic Park.

Trinity Episcopal Church is hosting a Celebration of Silent Movies on Saturday, June 19. The family-friendly event will include “Plane Crazy” (the last Mickey Mouse cartoon to be made without sound), “Tarzan the Tiger” (a cliff-hanger featuring Sonoma’s own Natalie Kingston as “Jane”) and “A Dog’s Life” (a Charlie Chaplin masterpiece).

And More…

Get your motor running! The Sonoma Raceway welcomes the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Weekend & Trans Am series on June 5 and 6. NASCAR weekend in wine country features the 90-lap Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday and the ARCA Menards Series West General Tire 200 50-lap race on Saturday. Additionally, a field of historic muscle cars – real race cars, not reproductions – will hit the track for a competition 50 years after the series’ heyday in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

Chateau Sonoma is reviving its monthly Le Petit French Flea beginning in June. The series begins with a pop-up with Eurolinens and Patine and Atelier de Campagne on June 5, followed by a special collaboration with Uber Chic in July. The full event calendar is online.

Socks on the Square, Sonoma’s premier sock shop is stocked up with brand new, limited edition Sonoma socks so visitors can wear their favorite destination after they head home. Check out their collection of Pride Socks as part of the celebration of Pride Month in June!

About Sonoma Valley, California

Located in the heart of Northern California wine country, Sonoma Valley is a 17-mile-long area
within Sonoma County, and which encompasses the city of Sonoma and the villages of Carneros, The Springs, Glen Ellen, and Kenwood. The birthplace of the state of California, as well as the state’s
wine industry, the year-round destination is home to more than 100 premium wineries, 85 percent of which are family-owned. For more information, visit SonomaValley.com, or follow them on Instagram at @sonoma_valley, and on Facebook at @ExperienceSonomaValley.