Cataract Canyon and the flat water preceding it are two of the few remaining “sure bets” among Western rivers. The stretches require a permit, but as long as you follow the proper steps, you’re guaranteed a go.
Unlike so many other rivers with lottery systems, luck isn’t a factor in gaining access to the Grand Canyon-style rapids through Cataract. The National Park Service considers it a “reservation” system, not an application system. Everyone who reserves a date at least two days to four months prior to their desired launch is granted a permit.
As great a sure thing sounds when you’re itching for some river time, bear in mind that there are no launch party maximums per day. In other words, choosing popular launch dates could mean spending the entire trip jockeying for camps with an untold number of other river-runners.
Applications are managed through the Backcountry Reservation System for Canyonlands National Park.
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