Canyonlands National Park is a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. The park preserves the natural beauty and human history throughout its four districts. While they share a primitive desert atmosphere, each offers different opportunities for wildness and solitude.
The Colorado and Green Rivers have played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Canyonlands. Seeing the park from the bottom up affords a unique perspective. Above their confluence at the heart of Canyonlands, the rivers offer miles of flatwater perfect for canoes, sea kayaks and other shallow-water boats. A commercial upriver shuttle is necessary for non-motorized boats. Below the confluence, the combined flow of both rivers spills down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power, creating a fourteen-mile stretch of Class III to V whitewater. It is a particularly hazardous and isolated section of the Colorado River, subject to extreme water level fluctuations, for experienced river runners only.
A permit is required for all day trips on the Green and Colorado Rivers above the Confluence (Flatwater) and Cataract Canyon.
Permits are available both online and in person. Any permits not reserved online will be available in person at the park headquarters backcountry permit office during normal business hours and seasons of operation. There is no fee for permits obtained in person.
Need to Know
A permit allows a group to travel on the river(s) only for the day listed. Overnight travel or camping is not allowed.
These permits are only for those familiar with boating in Canyonlands National Park. There are very limited river access points and a motorized boat is necessary for most day trips. They are not for travel on the Colorado River above the Potash Boat Ramp or for travel on the Green River above Mineral Bottom.
The trip leader is responsible for ensuring all participants know and understand all regulations and the group has all the required equipment. Review river regulation and required equipment here.
All motorized boats must be registered, including out-of-state motors. Motorized boats must have valid state registration, decals, placards, and a serviceable fire extinguisher. Boats with out-of-state registration are allowed on Utah waters for 60 days per calendar year; hull numbers are required.
Before launching your boat for Cataract Canyon, it must be Quagga mussel free. Utah state law also requires you to clean, drain, and dry your boat when leaving Lake Powell using self-decontamination procedures. Visit stdofthesea.utah.gov for information on:
This permit is valid for noncommercial groups only. You must have a National Park Service concession contract in order to lead commercial trips.
Cataract Canyon is a challenging stretch of river at all water levels and is only recommended for experienced boaters. You must have a motorized boat to complete Cataract Canyon in a day.
Flatwater day trips are not easy to coordinate and are only for those with well-planned out itineraries or motorized boats. There are very limited river access points.
If you have any questions about boating in Canyonlands National Park, please contact the Backcountry Permit Office.
Backcountry Permit Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-259-4351.
Reservation Fee: There is a non-refundable $6.00 reservation fee.
Once a reservation is completed, it is non-refundable.
No permit changes are allowed once the reservation is completed.
2282 SW Resource Blvd. Moab UT 84532