Provider: Holiday Expeditions
Length: Four days
On its women-only summer retreats, the adventure tour outfitter Holiday Expeditions promises whitewater rafting, yoga and meditation, and chocolate at every meal. Running co-ed rafting and biking trips in the West since 1966, the company led its first female-only rafting trip in 1994. Over the years, Holiday Expeditions added spiritual activities and top-notch cooking into its women's trips, and made the decision to keep groups small and the guides all female.
The concept has worked so well the company expanded its women-only offerings and earned a loyal following of repeat travelers. "Holiday Expeditions has my vote for value, safety, memorable highlights, and diversity, in addition to the best of the best food on any trip I've ever been on," says Salt Lake City grandmother Sandy Dain, who's been on six trips so far.
Rafting is certainly a big part of the experience, but so is learning stress reduction techniques and bonding as a group. Each morning at the campsite on the river bank, you'll practice Hatha Yoga and meditation together. In the evenings, instructors will give and teach massage and other relaxation practices. "These trips provide a safe place to come together, create bonds, share experiences, and enjoy the serenity of the river," says Karen Johnson of Holiday Expeditions. "From the very first meeting the women [going on the women-only trips] bond almost immediately, whereas with a regular trip you usually have families and various smaller groups that take a while to come together."
In 2008, the company plans to run women's trips on the San Juan and Green Rivers in Utah and the Lower Salmon in Idaho. "The San Juan trip in June is the mellowest of the three—low on whitewater but huge in scenic wonderment, hiking, and Indian ruins," says Johnson. "The July trip is the Green River through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument. This trip offers intermediate whitewater, plenty of hiking, wildlife, waterfalls and off-river exploration. The August trip is in Idaho on the Lower Salmon, which has the most whitewater and large sandy beaches perfect for yoga and sleeping under the stars."
The San Juan River trip starts June 10, the Lodore Canyon trip starts July 17, and the Lower Salmon starts August 2. Rates include rafting equipment, all meals, ground transportation during the trip, guides, and certified yoga and meditation instructors. You can rent sleeping bags and tents or bring your own. Travel from the trip base is extra. If you're flying, the airport in Salt Lake City is the closet to the departure points for the San Juan River (Blanding, Utah, 310 miles) and Lodore Canyon (Vernal, Utah, 180 miles) trips. For the Lower Salmon, you can fly to the airport in Lewiston, Idaho, a 72-mile drive from the trip start point in Grangeville, Idaho.