Moab Adventure for Women: Hike, Raft, and Ride in Southeast Utah

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 14261A, Raft, Lodge


  • Explore Arches and Canyonlands national parks
  • Raft and kayak the Green and Colorado rivers
  • Horseback ride in John Wayne country


  • Entry fees, equipment, and guides
  • On-trip transportation
  • All meals and lodge accommodations


DatesSep 21–27, 2014
StaffCristina Breen
Photo: John Hauer

Trip Overview

The Trip

Moab’s unique combination of beautiful redrock scenery, two national parks, and the allure of the Colorado River has made it one of the top adventure destinations in the West. We put all of our favorite activities and SE Utah highlights into one amazing week and want to share them with other adventurous women. This is summer camp for grown ups, only with better food and no tents!

With two national parks within easy distance of our lodge, the hikers in our group will be in heaven. Arches and Canyonlands are filled with geological eye candy, giant sandstone formations, and stunning trails. The iconic Delicate Arch Trail will be a highlight of our time together. Standing 65 feet tall, this freestanding natural arch never fails to inspire. 

Rafting the Green and Colorado Rivers will take up two days of our time together. We’ll run the Colorado first, to get a taste of river time and easy rapids. Later in the week, we’ll try out the larger rapids of the Green. We’ll also visit the John Wesley Powell River Museum and learn about 19th-century exploration of the West and the history of river running. 

The views from Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky district will have everyone wishing they had a better camera! Each turn of the trail affords a different perspective on this spectacular mesa and its sheer cliffs. On our way out to Canyonlands, we’ll take a brief detour to Dead Horse Point State Park. We’ll explore the ecology of the high desert while admiring the gooseneck of the Colorado River 2,000 feet below the trail.

After traveling by foot and by raft, we’ll  try horseback riding next. Everyone will saddle up and enjoy time meandering along the river, crossing streams, and admiring the view of the Fisher Towers and the scenery of many western movie classics. This is truly John Wayne country, the landscape of the Hollywood western movie.   

With views of the red cliffs surrounding Moab, our cozy lodge on the outskirts of town will be home base for the week. Everyone will help pitch in with kitchen duty. Generally, breakfasts and dinners will be at the lodge. We’ll pack picnic lunches some days, and will try out a few of the local restaurants on others. 

While we have a busy itinerary, this is a great trip for adventurous beginners. Each activity is optional and many have components with varying degrees of difficulty. For instance, when we’re on the river, you’ll have a choice of kicking back on the oar boat and bird-watching or trying out a stand-up paddleboard. 

Our days will vary considerably, and there will be time for relaxing, reading, checking out the works of local artists, and browsing Back of Beyond Books and Moab’s famous Rock Shop. In the evenings, we’ll enjoy casual conversation, games, and some short videos. After time spent exploring, we’ll learn about threats to Utah’s wilderness and efforts to protect it.

This is a perfect trip for moms and grown daughters, college friends who haven’t vacationed together in years, or a week out with the new friends you’ll meet. Regardless of whether you come alone or with a friend or family member, you’ll feel like a kid again!


Day 1: If you’re flying in, pick up from the Grand Junction airport can be arranged. We will all meet in Moab by mid-afternoon, giving us ample time to settle in, meet everyone, and prepare dinner.

Day 2: We’ll visit Arches National Park and hike to Delicate Arch as well as other arches and geological oddities. During our time here, we’ll discuss the history of the park, “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey, and the challenges facing the National Park Service.

Day 3: River time!  We’ll spend the day rafting the Colorado through Castle Valley. The scenery and geology are distracting, so it’s a good thing the rapids are easy. Everyone can try the kayaks and stand-up paddleboard. Depending on the weather, some of us may go for a swim. Lunch will be picnic-style on a beach.  After a day on the river, we may decide to visit one of Moab’s famous microbreweries.

Day 4: Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park will be our destinations. We’ll explore the trails of these two parks and learn more about the Colorado Plateau and its water issues. In Canyonlands, we may split into two hiking groups so that the eager hikers can get a good workout.

Day 5: We’ll head north to Green River, the Watermelon Capital of the World. Here we’ll visit the John Wesley Powell River History Museum and relive the exciting journey of this early explorer. Not too far from the museum, we’ll put in on the Green River and run eight miles of fun Class II+ rapids through Gray Canyon. Big horn sheep and birds of prey are fairly common here.

Day 6: Today is horseback riding in the Castle Valley. We’ll drive out the River Road to a ranch located along the Colorado River. After everyone gets her horse or mule, we’ll head out into redrock country, otherwise known as the Wild West. Depending on group interest, we may plan a hike, visit some petroglyph sites, or spend time in town.

Day 7: It's time for everyone to pack up and enjoy one last breakfast together. Depending on flight times, we may or may not have time for a hike or visit to town in the morning. Transportation to the Grand Junction airport will be provided. 

This itinerary may be modified, depending on the weather, guest speaker availability, inclination of the group, etc.

The hiking, rafting, and horseback riding activities are easy to moderate. The pace can be adjusted to suit the group.



Getting There

The trip is based in Moab, Utah. We will provide transportation from the airport in Grand Junction, Colorado to our lodge and to all daily activities on the trip. 

By Air: Grand Junction Regional Airport, located 113 miles from Moab, offers non-stop flights to five different cities and hundreds of connecting destinations. 

By Car: Moab is located 233 miles from Salt Lake City, 353 miles from Denver, and 467 miles from Phoenix. 

Accommodations and Food

A variety of room configurations in the lodge offer flexibility to accommodate individuals, couples, and friends who are sharing our adventure. Bathrooms will be shared. 

We will try to accommodate dietary restrictions if possible. Please let the leaders know of any restrictions, aversions, or allergies. Meals will generally include breakfast and dinner at the lodge, with lunch and snacks fixed "to go" each day. Participants will assist with cooking and kitchen clean up on a rotating basis.

Trip Difficulty

The hiking, rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding activities are easy to moderate, and the pace can be adjusted to suit the group. Each person needs to be in basic good health so we can all enjoy our hikes, paddling time, and riding. Participants are encouraged to walk, hike, and exercise in preparation for the trip. The Green and Colorado rafting trips are professionally guided whitewater trips and include rapids up to Class III. Separate liability waivers are required for the rafting trips and horseback riding.

Equipment and Clothing

No special equipment is required for this trip. All gear for the river trips, including personal flotation devices (PFDs), will be provided.  September weather can be unpredictable. Most likely we will experience warm days and chilly nights. Layers and good rain gear are essential. Binoculars are recommended for bird and wildlife viewing. A list of appropriate clothing and personal gear will be sent to all participants after acceptance on the trip.


  • Abbey, Edward, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness.
  • Grace, Stephen, Dam Nation: How Water Shaped the West and Will Determine Its Future.
  • Nash, Roderick, Wilderness and the American Mind.
  • Stegner, Wallace, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West.
  • Zwinger, Ann, Run, River, Run: A Naturalist’s Journey Down One of the Great Rivers of the West.


The Colorado Plateau and SE Utah face many conservation challenges in the 21st century. During the course of our trip, we’ll talk about the (mis)management of public lands, industrial tourism, water shortages on the Plateau, the Colorado River Compact, ORV impacts, oil and gas development, and efforts to protect Utah’s remaining wilderness. Participants will learn about America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and how they can advocate for wilderness in Congress.

In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from Canyonlands & Arches National Parks.



Cristina Breen has been rafting and kayaking the rivers of the West and Alaska for close to 20 years. She first visited Moab in 1993 and fell in love with Southern Utah. She is a licensed contractor and designs gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she's not gardening, running rivers, or wandering her favorite beaches, she enjoys ceramics and hiking. She has a passion for rocks, music, fossils, books, Japanese pottery, mollusks, maps, birds, succulents, wolverines, and wild places.


Elisha Shephard has been a Sierra Club member and river runner for more than 30 years. She has led Sierra Club raft trips for the past eleven years, leading trips on the Dolores, Rogue, Green, San Juan, Owyhee, and Salmon. She's also developed and led a women's trip in southern Oregon. Her passion is introducing people to adventure travel and sharing her love for wild places with others. When not playing on the water, she entertains herself with books, gardening, and taking photos in the outdoors. Feel free to contact Elisha if you are interested in this trip, have questions, or just want to talk running rivers.


Jennifer Bacon settled in Ashland, Oregon, after exploring every nook and cranny in the wild west with her sidekick and intrepid explorer, Dr. Farfel Noodleman (weiner dog). By day, Jenny is a speech pathologist, and an avid kayaker on the weekends. Her motto is: "All who wander are not lost!"

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