In this fun and historically informative overnight trip, explore wonderful Westwater Canyon, a Wilderness Study Area, with CFI Naturalist-Guides and writer and historian Mike Milligan. Immerse yourself in the adventure with a small group, take a side canyon hike while we go deeper into the canyon’s history, and learn about its geology.
A Bureau of Land Management ranger station is based at the head of Westwater Canyon where we check in and sign up for an assigned campsite.
We will take exploratory walks in one of Westwater’s beautiful side canyons, look for animal tracks, wildflowers, signs left by ancient peoples, and take an in-depth look at the colorful mining and river runner history. Along with Mike’s historic perspective, our CFI Naturalist-Guides share geology for the layman and how the river now flows through the black rock “roots of the Ancient Rockies!” For younger folks, we do some of our fun-to-learn science activities and games.
Experience 6 miles of exciting Class III-IV rapids like “Funnel Falls,” “Skull,” and “Sock-it-to-Me” which thrill even the veteran river runner. These help make Westwater one of the premiere whitewater stretches in the west. And the history is just as compelling! We run the rapids the last morning; enjoy a celebratory lunch and closing comments.
Mike Milligan began his river career in 1978 when he worked for Western River Expeditions running the Colorado River from Loma, Colorado all the way to Lake Mead, as well as most of the Green River. One of his initial impressions while boating in Desolation Canyon was its primitive nature and feeling that he was somehow historically connected to it. Milligan developed a deep interest in the human history along the river ways and shared it with his customers. Very little information was known about Westwater Canyon and the Colorado River above the Confluence, however, and Milligan was compelled to dive into research on the human history. He also studied the geology and plant life of the canyon, spending much of his spare time in Moab’s library.
Milligan considers himself an accidental historian but was determined to share his research, and has written the book Westwater Lost & Found, a river companion for those interested in going deeper into Westwater Canyon’s human history.