Overnight River Trip?? Only the Best Family Vacation Ever!

We waited what seemed like an eternity for Dan and his two brothers to return from running shuttle.  I had even sent Kerry with them to speed them along, but she can only do so much with three men who have absolutely no concept of time.  

Normally it wouldn’t have mattered, we were putting on the river after all, but we had a 13 mile paddle to our first camp and the water was barely moving, so it wouldn’t be propelling us forward.

When we finally hit the water it was 4:15 pm and we had estimated a 4-5 hour float … we’d be cutting it close to getting camp set by dark, but as soon as we began our trek down the mighty Colorado River, all stress, all worry just melted away.

Overnight River Trip
This reality is the reality that matters!! Photo: Susie Kellogg

We settled into the raft, stretched out and began the relaxing float …

Mic Drop.  No, STOP.  STOP.  We did not settle into the raft and there was nothing relaxing about this river trip … we don’t do anything relaxing, although, I can see how any other group on the planet could call the mostly flatwater on the Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado River, relaxing.

Overnight River Trip
Dally Kellogg doing Gainers off 40-45′ cliffs. Photo: Kady Kellogg

Us, we simply make anything and everything extreme.

We did, indeed, float 13 miles to our first campsite, Mee 1, but we did so by wrestling on the raft, throwing kids off the raft, attacking the teens in the duckies, and terrorizing those on the SUP’s. We rolled up to cliffs, that the kids all climbed up and jumped, we watched the kids orchestrate sneak attacks on one another and we risked life and limb training the youngest paddlers raft guide skills.

The best part of the trip, outside of the fact that it is just plain freakin fun, is that we leave behind all the technical interruptions … on the river there is no cell service, therefore no emails, no texts, no phone calls, no incessant notifications that are such a huge part of our daily lives on land.

Table of Contents

Family Tradition

Overnight River Trip
A beautiful moment on our 2015 River Trip … Photo: Susie Kellogg

Now, Ruby Horsethief is probably the most popular Colorado run for private boaters, with it’s beautiful canyon walls, bald eagles and calm waters, it’s ideal for even the most novice of boaters and for kids of all ages.

It is something we started last year and plan to continue well into our 90’s and beyond.  It is a no-excuses trip, meaning all 14 of us WILL be in attendance.  We travel into the inaccessible (except by water craft) wilderness with a cooler, a drybox, a first aid kit, and our raft, SUP’s, and Duckies.

Last year, Dan’s brother, James, joined us on both of our floats, bringing his 4 kids on the 2nd. Getting cousins together, who otherwise don’t get to see much of each other, is an awesome thing!

This year we floated down the beautiful Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado River with 17 kids, ages 22-3, 4 bonafide adults, and two wild and crazy dogs.  Sounds insane, right?

Oh, but I assure you, it was anything but.  It was memorable … and extraordinary.  In fact a multi-day river trip  is the most amazing experience for so many reasons and something every family ought to do at least once, if not make it a family tradition.


Overnight River Trip
Dan spending serious quality time with his sons and nephews! Photo: Susie Kellogg

Life is a series of decisions and opportunities. Our children are growing up on the rivers that stretch across this stunning continent.  From the American River in CA to the Ottawa River in Canada, to yes, even the Colorado River.  On the river, time stands still.

There is no stress, no worry, no meetings, no deadlines.  All there is is that moment.  You can be having the worst day in the world, and the minute you hit the water, everything washes away.  Talk about therapy … for cheap!

And being on the river with your family is priceless.  Time stands still.  Suddenly you can see clearly and you know exactly what is important.  Outside of the city, away from the societal voices that shame you if you don’t follow the script, you just know and you have a clear understanding that society is wrong.

Mental Change

Overnight River Trip
This little face is one of 12 that make our world go round!! Photo: Susie Kellogg

On a river trip something miraculous occurs.  You stop planning your next move, your next career change and start planning to buy a raft, some SUP’s, you might even start planning on quitting your job, traveling the country, continent or world, becoming a vagabond.  You laugh, but I’m being dead serious, everything is different on the river and you truly recognize the important things in life.

The trick is maintaining that train of thought.  It’s easy to fall back into the career, money, bills, stuff mentality because out there in the “real’ world that’s what matters.

But when you stop and look around you, you’ll notice the truly happy people are the ones who have gone against the grain.  You just don’t hear those people complaining.  I mean, the ski bums kinda have it all figured out.


Overnight River Trip
Just before we hit the river … everyone was excited and pumped!! Photo: Dan Kellogg

In a nutshell, life is about spending time with the people we love and making memories that create your legacy.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be eternal.  I want to leave a lifetime of memories behind with my children and grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren that stands the test of time.

You do this by spending time with them, loving them, being there for them, and supporting them.

Whatever you do to SHOW love, let me make one thing clear, the words, “I love you” don’t mean a thing.  Not a darn thing, unless you put the sacrifice, the action, and the proof behind the words.

So, get out there, do your thing with your kids.  Whatever that thing is, ours just happens to be the river, I’m sure, certain in fact, that you will have the same thoughts, experiences, leave the same amazing legacy …

If you are jonesin for a river trip, check out this blog we wrote for TIPS!!!  🙂


Best Family Vacation

7 thoughts on “Overnight River Trip?? Only the Best Family Vacation Ever!”

  1. You really are an incredible family! So many people would love to do a trip like this, but don’t have the means ( you still need to earn money while doing it!) or are not as adventurers like you. I love reading stories about your family, especially from the children. It’s the way they see the world. What a fantastic experience, no textbook will teach you!
    Wishing you continued success and love,

  2. We are doing this trip Memorial Day weekend and are trying to figure out which campsite to camp at the first night as we have kids 3-6 and this will be their first longer-than-an-hour-trip so we don’t want to suffer with them being super bored (as we don’t know how they will take being on a raft for that long). How far did you go that first day and how long did it take you?

    • The water will be moving fast Memorial Day weekend. I’m sorry i didn’t see this … surely you’ve booked. Which site did you choose??

  3. Hi Susie!

    You and your family are amazing and have encouraged our family to seize the day with the beauty of nature! We wanted to know where you got your kayak trailer. With a family of 10 we’ed love a hauler like yours!

    • Hey Amber.

      We bought it from a dealer in Rifle, CO … what we really want, and what a family your size should probably get, if you can afford it, is a box trailer. It keep your boats in better shape!! 🙂


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