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colorado river moab

Colorado River

From mild to wild, Moab has an abundance of river recreation opportunities available to suit any taste.

Introduction

While our area is known for its family oriented whitewater trips on the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River, there are several wilder single and multi-day trips available in Westwater and Cataract Canyons. Additionally, canoes, kayaks and paddle boards are the perfect way to explore the calm water segments of the Colorado. Individuals or groups may raft the river on their own or with a professional river outfitter.

There is a great selection of river guides and outfitters in Moab. Outfitters take passengers down all of Southeastern Utah’s rivers and 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. Some outfitters conduct specialty tours such as self-paddle trips, jet boat tours, executive training sessions, women’s trips, and kayak instruction. Many outfitters will also provide shuttle and pick-up service. Click here for a complete list of all area outfitters.

Cataract Canyon
Book a guided river trip for the ultimate adventure!

Suggested Activities

Half-Day
A morning or afternoon rafting trip on the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River. This mild rafting trip is suitable for everyone from children (40 lbs) to senior citizens willing to get their feet wet. If you don’t want to get wet, consider a morning or afternoon calm water jetboat tour on the Colorado River. These relaxing trips are perfect for photographers and families with toddlers and senior citizens. A half day paddle boarding trip is great fun for the entire family.
Full Day
A mild full day rafting trip on the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River is suitable for everyone from children (40 lbs) to senior citizens willing to get their feet wet. For a wilder adventure consider a whitewater trip in Cataract or Westwater Canyons. Those with river navigation skills can rent their own canoe, raft or kayak and do a self guided trip.
Several Days
Camp on the river bank on the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado, or in Westwater or Cataract Canyons. Camp more nights to experience a non-motorized Cataract Canyon river trip, a canoe trip on the Green River, or consider rafting with Moab’s Outfitters on the nearby San Juan River or in Desolation and Gray Canyons on the Green River.

COVID-19 Updates

  • The Colorado River is open to all normal recreation.
  • Backcountry and river permits are available online.
  • Guides, Outfitters, and rental equipment are available.
  • Get more COVID-19 information here.

Colorado River Sections

Paddle Boarding near Moab

While our area is known for its family-oriented raft trip on the Fisher Towers section of the Colorado River (The Moab Daily), people also enjoy canoes, kayaks and paddle boards to explore the calm water segments of the Colorado. Enjoy a guided trip with one of Moab’s many professional river outfitters or try it on your own with rental equipment from a local company. Please help preserve these beautiful river spots so that everyone will be able to enjoy the primitive character for years to come.

Colorado River Sections
Determine a river stretch suitable for your equipment, skill and time commitment.

Cisco to Fish Ford

Highlights
Flat water winding around islands. Some homesteads/private land on the riverside.
Length
5 miles
Getting there
From I-70, take exit 214. Turn south at the stop sign. This road leads to the ghost town of Cisco. Turn left at a decrepit building with a faded mural. This road intersects with another. Turn left. In 2.5 miles, stay left at a Y to go to the Cisco boat ramp.
Description
Camping is not allowed at the Cisco boat ramp. There are vault toilets here.

Fish Ford to Dewey Bridge

Highlights
Flat water among low hills. SR 128 begins to parallel the river 7 miles downstream. At 9.5 miles downstream, the Dolores River enters on river left.
Length
11 miles
Getting there
From I-70, take exit 214. This road leads to the ghost town of Cisco. Turn left at a decrepit building with a faded mural. This road intersects with another. Turn left. In 2.5 miles, go right at a Y to get to Fish Ford river access.
Description
Camping is allowed at Fish Ford. There is a short distance between the end of the road and the river’s edge, so you will have to carry your boat. There is a small dirt boat ramp.

Dewey Bridge to Hittle Bottom

Highlights
Flat water flowing under high cliff walls. Bull Canyon is river right in 2.5 miles downstream. Good hike.
Length
6 miles
Getting there
Dewey Bridge is 28.7 miles from the junction of SR 128 with US Highway 191.
Description
Camping is allowed at both Dewey Bridge and Hittle Bottom campgrounds based on first come first served. Often occupied by car camping folks. There is a vault toilet here.

Hittle Bottom to Onion Creek

Highlights
Flat water flows to this access on river left. There are two sloped boat ramps into the river at Onion Creek. Rapids begin immediately downstream of this point.
Length
2 miles
Getting there
Hittle Bottom is 23 miles from the junction of SR 128 with US Highway 191.
Description
Camping is allowed in designated sites on river right. There is a fee. Based on first come first served. Often occupied by car camping folks. There are vault toilets here.

Onion Creek to Rocky Rapid/Ida Gulch

Highlights
Four class II-III rapids are located in this section. Not suitable for flat-water craft. Boaters taking out at Rocky Rapid must stay center or left in the rapid and cut left immediately afterward to access the boat ramp.
Length
5 miles
Getting there
Onion Creek is 19.5 miles from the junction of SR 128 with US Highway 191. Turn left onto a dirt road that leads to the campground and river access.
Description
Camping is allowed only in designated sites on river right. Based on first come first served. No camping is allowed at Rocky Rapid.

Rocky Rapid/Ida Gulch to Big Sandy Beach

Highlights
Class II-III rapids are in this section. Not suitable for flat-water craft. All boaters are encouraged to stay left at White’s Rapid just downriver from the lodge, to avoid rough water and recirculating hydraulics.
Length
4 miles
Getting there
Rocky Rapid is 16 miles from the Junction of SR 128 with US Highway 191.
Description
Camping is not allowed at the Rocky Rapid river access. There are vault toilets here.

Big Sandy to Take Out

Highlights
Rapids are in this section.
Length
3 miles
Getting there
Big Sandy is 11.8 miles from the junction of SR 128 with US Highway 191.
Description
Camping is not allowed at the Rocky Rapids, Big Sandy or Take Out river access. There are vault toilets here.

Take Out to Big Bend Campground

Highlights
At Big Bend there is a rapid. This access is NOT a boat ramp. There is a distance between the end of the road and the river’s edge.
Length
4 miles
Getting there
Take Out is 9.9 miles from the Junction of SR 128 with US Highway 191.
Description
Camping is allowed at Big Bend Campground. There is a fee. Based on first come first served. Often occupied by car camping folks. Vault toilets here.

Big Bend to Moab Bridge

Highlights
Watch for an additional rapid below Big Bend before regaining flat-water. Afternoons can have significant upstream wind.
Length
8 miles
Getting there
Big Bend is 7.5 miles from the junction of SR 128 with US Highway 191.
Description
Camping is not allowed at the Moab Bridge area. Across the pedestrian bridge in Lion’s Park there are toilets and water.

Moab Bridge to Gold Bar

Highlights
Flat-water from the wide Moab Valley into a narrower corridor after entering the West Portal. SR 279 parallels the Colorado River to Gold Bar and Potash. Navigate around islands.
Length
10 miles
Getting there
There is a steep dirt boat ramp on the north side of the Colorado River. From SR 128 travel north, make a right turn after crossing the river bridge. Be advised, in exiting this access, make only a right-hand turn. Go over Courthouse Wash bridge to turn around in a trailhead parking lot on the right.
Description
Camping is allowed at Gold Bar Campground. There is a fee. Based on first come first served. Often occupied by car camping folks. Vault toilets here. There are marked trails nearby for hiking.

Gold Bar to Potash Boat Ramp

Highlights
Flat-water. This is the last vehicular river access; do not miss the take out!
Length
7 miles
Getting there
Goldbar is 10.2 miles from the junction of SR 279 with US Highway 191.
Potash Boat Ramp is located at the end of the pavement of SR 279.
Description
Camping is not allowed at the Potash Boat ramp/picnic area. There are vault toilets here.

Did You Know

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Personal Flotation Devices are made for humans and dogs. It is required by law that humans wear these at all times on board the watercraft and during transitions at the water’s edge.



River Use Ethics

  • All garbage, ash, charcoal, and trash must be carried out on all portions of the rivers. Even small scraps of food left behind will attract ants, flies and mice.
  • Gather only driftwood for campfires. Be aware of fire restrictions. All fires must be contained in a fire pan. Ash and charcoal packed out.
  • Urinate directly into the river.
  • Dispose of human waste in approved facilities.


River Use Regulations

  • Carry and use a leak-proof portable toilet for solid human waste. Recommended for day use; mandatory of overnight trips.
  • Respect wildlife encountered along the river.
  • Carry a first aid kit, a repair kit and an air pump. Rafts, dories and canoes must carry an extra oar, paddle or motor capable of maneuvering the vessel, a bail bucket or bilge pump (does not apply to self-bailing boat, kayak or paddle boards). Kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and stand up paddle boards (SUPs) must carry one spare paddle for every 3 low capacity vessels. Each boat 16’ or longer must carry a type IV throw-able device AND a commercially made throw bag with a minimum of 40’ of line. Each boat must have a whistle or horn.

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