Mom wants to turn back. A van-size rock blocks the way through the slot deep in the Maze District. I scramble atop it with two simple climbing moves, but she’s not having it. “Let’s just go back the way we came,” she says. In truth, my waifish, 62-year-old mother has no business being here, many difficult miles from the nearest trailhead. Except that we’re just an hour’s hike from the canoes that floated us gently to the Green River beach where my dad is currently lounging. As for the rock—no problem. With my sister’s help, Mom climbs on top of my brother’s shoulders, while I clasp her forearm and pull her up. It seems like nothing, but it’s a moment she’ll talk about for years: the role reversal when her children were the ones lifting her over the obstacle.
Do it Tex’s Riverways in Moab will drop you off at one of three Green River put-ins and then return you (and your boats and gear) to Moab by jetboat, 50 Colorado River miles from the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers at trip’s end ($145/person; texsriverways.com). They also rent canoes and camping gear.
Season Faster currents in the spring mean it’s easy to make mileage and still fit in side hikes; summer is scorching, but a great time for kids to spend all day in and out of the water; and fall’s low water means great beach camping.
Contact (435) 259-4351; nps.gov/cany
Permits $30 application fee plus $20/person. Though Park Service permits are unlimited, jetboat shuttles frequently sell out, so make reservations several months in advance. (However, small parties and groups with flexible dates will often find availability.)
Get more trip-planning tips and see a photo slideshow at backpacker.com/stillwater.