Westwater Canyon – School Program

Outdoor education meets thrilling whitewater rapids

Prepare for an adventure in some of Utah’s best whitewater on this educational whitewater rafting trip! Set in a beautiful canyon composed of 1.7 billion year old black schists and granites, Westwater provides an outstanding place for students to build community while learning about geology, ecology, and human history.

Exciting Rapids

Explored as a one night trip, this stretch of river provides both serenity and excitement. With rapids such as Skull, Funnel Falls, and Sock-it-to-me, navigating Westwater is an excellent challenge for groups.

Hands on Outdoor Education

With a rich history of Indigenous inhabitants as well as outlaws, prospectors,  and some of Utah’s darkest skies, Westwater is a place that captures the imaginations of both students and adults alike.

CFI instructors generate an inclusive learning environment and no prior rafting or camping experience is necessary.

Looking for more adventure?

Extend your time in canyon country by rafting Ruby Horsethief Canyon before launching in Westwater!
Packaged price is $500 for a 4 day and 3 night trip.

Colorado River: Westwater, UT to Cisco, UT
Call 435 259-7750 for availability
2 days and 1 night
Group Size:
15 - 25 participants
Age Range:
14 and older
$390+ $10 BLM fee per student

This is how we rate the challenges you might face on a CFI trip.

Level 1

  • Low level of physical activity, minimal movement required
  • 0 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking or walking 0-2 miles per day

Level 2

  • Medium level of physical activity, some movement required
  • 1-4 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 4 miles per day
  • Flatwater or mild whitewater rapids

Level 3

  • Medium or high level of physical activity
  • 1-5 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 5 miles per day
  • Class I - III whitewater rapids

Level 4 - Challenging

  • High level of physical activity
  • 1-6 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking 5 or more miles per day
  • Class IV whitewater rapids
CFI's Essential Eligibility Criteria outlines specific challenges that you may face on CFI trips. Please consult the EEC for information on responsibilities of participants.

This trip can be added on to a trip through Ruby-Horsethief Canyon, for a combination of backcountry exploration and whitewater thrills for $500 per person.

See other trips in these categories:

Trip Narrative

The stretch from Westwater Ranger Station to the small town of Cisco is one to thrill even the veteran river runner. Westwater trips have the option to start at the Ranger Station and spend only one night in the canyon, or you can add a Westwater trip on to your expedition after running Ruby Horsethief Canyon

Westwater is more than just class 4 rapids! The first portion of the trip meanders through a wide floodplain with tall sandstone structures in the distance. Keep your eyes open for bald eagle nesting areas, river otters, falcons, and big horn sheep. Moving further downriver, the sandstone walls tighten up, and the legendary metamorphic blackrocks start to appear. Geologists take note! Your boats will pass across the Great Unconformity. This geologic boundary lies between overlying sandstone, around 200 million years old, and the 1.7 billion year old gneisses and schists that comprise the blackrock formation.

You will also travel through rich human history, passing by historic mining operations, outlaw hideouts, and areas of Indigenous occupation. Then come the rapids. One rapid after another forms miles and miles of whitewater thrills. “All forward!” Your paddling skills will be put to the test as your guide yells out their instructions.

Check out what a guide has to say about their first Westwater experience!

The trip ends near Cisco, Utah. A historic town with a present-day population of 4 people.


Some people say food is the most important part of the adventure. On all our overnight trips, CFI will provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a morning and afternoon snack, and an appetizer before dinner. If you have a dietary restriction or food allergy, note it on your medical form so we can best prepare.

Depends on the trip. As a general rule, CFI provides all group gear related to fully outfitting your trip. Specialized gear like PFDs, wetsuits, dry bags, educational materials are all provided by CFI. Additionally, we take care of all kitchen and dishware needs. 

Find out more about trip specific packing.

Most importantly, a willingness to slow down, connect to your surroundings, and experience the moment. Additionally, participants are required to bring a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, personal clothing, medication, and other essential personal items. Many gear items are available for rent. Reach out to us if you are interested in seeing a trip specific packing list, or learn more about trip specific packing here.

CFI provides options to rent gear:

  • Two person tent: $30 / trip
  • Sleeping bag: $20 / trip
  • Kid sleeping pad: $7 / trip
  • Adult sleeping pad (paco pad): $15 / trip
  • Package deal: Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and one tent per two people: $40 / trip

For any CFI summer camp, gear rentals are free!

Every CFI guide has either a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Your trip leader will have a Wilderness First Responder certification. Anyone working with youth has passed a background check, and shuttle drivers are insured with clean driving records. Backcountry trips carry In-Reach satellite communication devices for emergencies. All guides have been evaluated by Canyonlands Field Institute as possessing the judgement, skills, and disposition required for mitigating risk in the field. 

As technology grows more and more invasive by the day, CFI promotes connection to what matters. To achieve this, all school and youth programs are unplugged and students are not permitted to bring electronic devices. Not only is there rarely cell service, devices are a distraction to our ability to connect to the present moment. On Private Group Trips or Adult Seminars, the use of devices is permitted but discouraged.

CFI works hard to ensure a positive experience for all guides and participants. Because of the unpredictable nature of outfitting, we have created a series of policies so maintain our ability to manage risk in the outdoors.

For critical information regarding cancellations, deposits, and other participant responsibilities, please view our trip policies page or contact us with any questions.

Need to Know

  • CFI staff are trained educators and guides with first aid and CPR certifications. Back-country trips carry satellite communications devices.  
  • All cook and dishware, meals, snacks, and river gear are provided by CFI.   
  • Tents are provided and sleep kits (sleeping bag, sleeping pad) can be borrowed at no additional cost