Apr 8, 2008
Outside Magazine
Rafting in Canyonlands

Whitewater rafting in Canyonlands    Photo: courtesy, NPS

The ur-western red-rock landscape of cinema, myth, and postcard, Canyonlands is southern Utah's most famous park but nowhere near its most popular. Its neighbor, Arches National Park, sees far more visitors. Good.

Park Action
Raft down a gorgeous section of the Colorado River, putting in above Cataract Canyon and floating for a hundred miles, stopping along quiet stretches in Canyonlands to hike in the park. On the second day, you hit the rapids of the Big Drops. Four-day trips, $945; six-day ranch-and-river trips, beginning with two days at the Sorrel River Ranch, $1,620;

Where to Stay
Upmarket ranch decor, claw-foot soaking tubs, pillow-top mattresses, gaudy views of the peppermint-stick cliffs of the Professor Valley, and a gazebo with a private room for couples Swedish massage are a few of the amenities of the Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa, about 20 miles from Moab. Canyonlands and Arches are both less than an hour away. Doubles and suites, $279–$389;

Where to Eat
The Desert Bistro, in a historic ranch house at the north end of Moab, serves up piñon-crusted chicken breast and smoked elk tenderloin wrapped in bacon.

Extra Credit
Pick up a bottle at Spanish Valley Vineyards, five miles south of Moab off Highway 191, and stick around for free afternoon tastings, including its award-winning cabernet.