A group enjoys paddling through the whitewater rapids in the Westwater Canyon.
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Westwater Canyon

Westwater Canyon requires obtaining a Private or Commercial Permit

State of Utah Boating Regulations

The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation has the primary responsibility for boating safety and enforcement on Utah waters under the Utah Boating Act. On Utah rivers, every person on board a vessel must wear a personal flotation device (life jacket) of proper size and of an approved type; except on designated flat water areas where they may be loosened or removed. Life jackets must be worn by all persons from 1) Westwater Ranger Station to Big Hole and 2) Onion Creek to Drinks Canyon. Persons under 12 years of age must wear personal flotation devices at all times while on Utah rivers. Utah law also requires that an extra oar or paddle be on board, as well as a bailing device. All motor powered craft must be registered in Utah or in the boater's home state. Highlights from Utah boating laws and rules.

River Use Ethics

Please exercise the utmost level of care and caution when visiting desert rivers. The following principles should be adhered to during your visit:  

  • Urinate directly in the river
  • Carry and use a portable toilet for solid human waste
  • Dispose of human waste in approved facilities
  • Respect wildlife encountered along the river
  • Camp in previously hardened sites or on beaches
  • Pack out all trash (including fire ash, charcoal, and food waste)
  • Gather only driftwood for campfires
  • On commercially outfitted trips, river guides will provide instruction about disposal of human waste, the disposal of different types of trash, and other practices.

Infants and Small Children

If you answer no to any of the following questions, then your infants or small children then Westwater Canyon may not be appropriate for the infant or child's safety or enjoyment. Each year, fatalities occur on this stretch of river. Please do your part to ensure the safety of yourself and your group while playing on the river. 

  • Can your child climb in and out of a boat without the assistance others?
  • Is your child strong enough to hold on while in a moving or bouncing boat without being assisted by a parent?
  • Does your child have the knowledge, strength and skill to get to shore, get back into a boat or self-rescue if he or she has fallen overboard?
  • Does your child have the knowledge, strength and skill to grab hold of a thrown rope?
  • Does your child have the knowledge, strength and skill to survive a swim in cold, moving water or rapids?

Commercial Permit

How to Obtain a Commercial Permit

Outfitters take passengers down all of the river sections listed below. River outfitters offer part-day, one-day, and multi-day trips. Most outfitters conduct trips in more than one river area and provide a wide variety of tours.

Reservations and Fees: Reservations for river trips with an outfitter should be made as far ahead as possible, especially for multi-day trips. Trip prices vary according to trip length, services provided, group size, and river segment. 

Equipment Provided: Outfitters generally provide boats, boating equipment, safety equipment such as life jackets and first-aid kits, waterproof bags for storing equipment, watertight boxes for cameras, food, non-alcoholic beverages, ice chests, and return transportation from their office or a pre-arranged meeting place to the river. 

Recommended Gear and Clothing: Passengers embarking upon a one-day summertime river trip with an outfitter should bring a sun hat, sun screen, lip gloss, sunglasses with a retention strap, a pair of old sport shoes (they will get wet), a T-shirt, quick drying shorts, a lightweight long sleeve cotton shirt, and a wind breaker. For multi-day trips, passengers will need in addition to the above items, extra clothing for use around camp (evenings can be cool along the river), rain gear, personal care items, and walking shoes for hikes. Passengers may bring their own sleeping bag, ground cloth, and tent or rent these items from the outfitter. Consult with the outfitter for more specific information about clothing, camping gear, and personal use items because requirements vary by trip and season. 

Additional Recommendations: River guides are available through the mail or by phone order from the Canyonlands Natural History Association at: 3031 South Hwy. 191, Moab, UT 84532 (435) 259-6003, or visit their website: Canyonlands Natural History Association Bookstore. Further information on outfitter services, accommodations, and shuttles can be obtained by contacting: 

Moab Area Travel Council 
P.O. Box 550 
Moab, UT 84532 
(435) 259-8825 
(800) 635-6622

Private Permit

How to Obtain a Private Permit 

A permit is required year-round to run Westwater Canyon. Permits are issued only through advance reservation to individuals 18 years and older. The maximum group size is 25 people. Do not show up at the launch ramp without a permit expecting to launch or to join another group. No waiting lists are maintained.

Launches become available 2 months prior to the launch date.

  • For example, July 4th launches first become available on May 4th.
  • If the day to call is a weekend or Federal holiday, you need to call the next working day

You can acquire any launch dates available within the two-month period.

Launches are issued on a first-come, first-served basis using the telephone.

  • For example, the first five people to call (435) 259-7012 on May 4th (starting at 8 am) will receive a permit for July 4th.
  • An online calendar is available showing open launch dates (updated at least once daily.

You do not need to submit an application to acquire a permit.

All needed information is obtained when you call for a launch including:

  • date of launch
  • size of group
  • name, address, and phone number of trip leader
  • name, address, and phone number of alternate trip leader (this is optional)
  • payment information (i.e., credit card number, expiration date, and billing address)

You need access to a fax machine or email if picking up a launch within one week of the launch date.

You can acquire only one launch per day and possess only one unpaid permit at a time. 


Fees are required year round. The fee is $10.00 per person and can be paid with cash, check, or credit card. 

Payment can be made when you acquire a launch or is due 30 days prior to your launch date.

  • If you pick up a launch that is less than 30 days away, you need to pay for it at the time your reservation is made.

Payments may only be made by the trip leader or alternate trip leader.

Payments cannot be made at the launch site. 

Changing/Canceling a Reservation 

The trip leader or alternate trip leader can make two changes to a permit, including:

  • Change of alternate trip leader
  • Increase of group size (if space is available)
  • Change of launch date (if another launch is available within the two-month time frame)
  • Changes must be made at least 24 hours prior to your launch date during River Office hours.

Please notify the River Office if you are unable to use your launch date.

  • This will reduce the amount of unused Westwater launches
  • If you haven't already made two changes to a paid permit, you can request a launch date change (and payment transfer) at the time of cancellation

Smooth Operation 

Our permit issuance process incorporates the following elements to ensure smooth operation:  

  • Calls must be received during River Office hours: 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Monday-Friday (excluding Federal holidays)
  • Please designate one person per group to call in for your chosen launch
  • No walk-in reservations before 9:00 a.m
  • An online calendar is available showing open launch dates (updated at least once daily)
  • You must speak to someone at the River Office to obtain a reservation and/or make changes to an existing reservation (please, no phone messages)
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Point of Contact

Bureau of Land Management
Moab River Office 
82 East Dogwood 
Moab, Utah 84532 

Office Hours
Monday through Friday
8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
excluding Federal holidays