Payoff We hit the water with a small armada of watercraft and 17 people, including eight kids. For five days, we enjoyed water fights, paddling, beach games, and riverside campsites. And the kids would occasionally look around—really, we saw this—and say, “Wow this is gorgeous.” Afterward, your child might even tell you (as mine did), “That was the coolest trip of my life! Can we do it again next week?” —M. Lanza
Do it The Green River snakes for 52 placid (read: flatwater, perfect for canoes packed with luxury items) miles through Stillwater Canyon in Canyonlands National Park, below a backdrop of redrock spires and cliffs where you might see bighorn sheep. Side paths lead up narrow canyons to Puebloan rock art and cliff dwellings. Riverside beaches offer heavenly lunch stops and campsites.
Key Skills: Pack Smart and Paddle Efficiently
» Forget dehydrated noodles. This is the trip for steak, fruit, and margs. To keep it all cold, load coolers in the reverse order that you’ll remove food. Put an ice block in the center, and add cubes to the spaces. Strap coolers shut, store them under tarps, and don’t open until needed.
» Load heavy items (coolers, tents, fuel) low in the canoe’s center, putting light dry bags (clothes, sleeping bags, pads) at its ends. Avoid stacking items above the gunwales. Load gear with the canoe tied up in shallows; secure it all with straps.
» For an efficient stroke, hold the top of the paddle with one hand and the shaft with the other (about shoulder’s width apart). Your shoulders and torso should do most of the work. While sitting up straight, rotate your torso stroke-side, and dip the blade vertically into the water about one foot in front of your knee; the shaft should be almost perpendicular to the water. Pull the blade back in a straight line until it’s even with your knee.
Getting there Put-in: Mineral Bottom, at the end of Mineral Bottom Rd., off UT 313, 90 minutes from Moab. Takeout: Reserve a jet-boat shuttle up the Colorado back to Moab. Outfitter Tex’s Riverways (435) 259-5101; texsriverways.comMap Trails Illustrated Island in the Sky District #310 ($10; natgeomaps.com) Contact (435) 719-2313; nps.gov/cany
SEE TWO MORE
Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge
See eagles, osprey, and moose during a weekend canoe trip on on the border of New Hampshire and Maine. (603) 482-3415; fws.gov/northeast/lakeumbagog.html
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Explore Wisconsin sea caves and camp on secluded, sandy beaches on a
70-mile paddle. (715) 779-3397; nps.gov/apis