AUGUST 15th - AUGUST 20th

This summer, Open Roads is curating a six-day adventure that will feature a four-day river rafting trip through the majestic Gates of Lodore Canyon, on Utah's Green River. The trip will bring together a small group of inspired, high-school age young men, along with a few college-age mentors, all of whom are at various stages on their journey from high school to college, and beyond.


The intention is to use the innate power of group travel into one of our country’s most awe-inspiring wilderness areas, as a time to reflect on the life each of us wants to create and the values that drive us. As high school students on the path to college, we are at the precipice of making one of our first independent life choices and declaring some of our early life goals. This moment presents a rare opportunity to develop a deeper confidence in our ability to create the life outcomes that we desire (something often referred to as our "self-efficacy").


We feel there is no better place to ask these big questions than on an adventure in the wilderness, surrounded by nature in a way that inspires awe and reminds us that we are part of something much bigger. Why awe? Here are two excerpts from a recent article in published in the Washington Post, titled: “Awe might be our most undervalued emotion. Here is how to help children find it.”


“Awe is what we feel when we encounter something vast, wondrous or beyond our ordinary frame of reference. It evokes a sense of mystery and wonder. And, given its documented benefits, awe might be our most overlooked, undervalued emotion.”


“Psychologist Dacher Keltner, the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley, has spent years studying the beneficial effects of awe on our physical, mental and emotional well-being. ‘It makes us curious rather than judgmental. It makes us collaborative. It makes us humble, sharing and altruistic. It quiets the ego so that you’re not thinking about yourself as much.’ It also calms the brain’s default mode network and has been shown to reduce inflammation. In other words, he says, don’t underestimate the power of goosebumps.”


Of course, this will also be a thrilling and fun journey with a combination of exhilarating rapids, peaceful flat water, beautiful hikes to waterfalls, camping under the stars, ample time for play, and an introduction to the documentary arts of writing and photography as tools to tell our stories.


We are once again partnering with Holiday River Expeditions, with whom we have worked for over 20 years. Holiday handles all river logistics, food prep, and will provide a wonderful introduction to the one-of-a-kind geology that will inspire us at every turn. 




Monday, August 15th

  • Arrive at the Salt Lake City Airport before Noon MT

  • Begin travel as a group to Vernal, Utah

  • Meet Holiday River Guides for a basic introduction to river travel and to pick up gear

  • Camp nearby and pack for the adventure ahead

  • Begin discussions about values framework, photography, and writing


Day 2:

  • Watch for raptors and pronghorns on the three-hour drive from Vernal to the put-in at Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge

  • Enter the canyon through the impressive Gates of Lodore and imagine you’re entering the great unknown

  • This day offers the first major rapids we’ll navigate

  • Spend the night sleeping under a new moon with an epic chance to see the night sky as never before


Day 3:

  • The “Gates” marks the beginning of high desert country (the Colorado Plateau) in what is deemed an ecological transition-zone: a landscape teeming with wildlife

  • As the canyon narrows, more rapids emerge and we have the chance to discover a secluded waterfall


Day 4:

  • At the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers at Echo Park, the canyon widens and the river circles Steamboat Rock

  • Beyond this, the river cuts through the dramatic Mitten Park Fault and enters Whirlpool Canyon

  • The afternoon may be spent at Jones Hole Creek, a blue-ribbon trout stream with side canyon petroglyphs and a waterfall


Day 5:

  • Enjoy a peaceful morning in Island and Rainbow parks before entering another massive gorge

  • The Green’s powerful forces cut laterally through Split Mountain’s uplifted and colorful core

  • Slide into the take-out at approximately 2:00 p.m. Our expected time of arrival back at our headquarters is 4:00 p.m.

  • Drive to Salt Lake City for a final banquet and prepare for return home


Day 6

  • All participants fly home from SLC, departing before noon on Saturday, August 20th


  • All camping and other gear will be provided by Open Roads and Holiday River Expeditions. Participants only need to bring the clothing on the recommended packing list, which is also accompanied by a useful FAQ

  • Participants are responsible for booking their own travel to and from Salt Lake City, arriving before noon on Monday, August 15th, and departing before Noon on Saturday, August 20th

  • Every other element of travel from arrival to departure will be handled by Open Roads.

  • The total cost for each participant is $2,500 (plus flights)

  • Leading up to the trip Open Roads will be in close consultation with our medical advisors and will release our COVID protocols just prior to the trip, based on the national situation at that moment. We do expect that only fully vaccinated individuals will be able to participate, and it is likely that pre and post-trip tests may be required.

Participant Forms

Please complete all forms and upload them in our portal below. Holiday River Expedition Forms are to be completed via the links below then downloaded when complete and uploaded to our portal. If you have any questions please email sam@openroads.org.