Delores River

Gateway, Colorado to Delores and Colorado Confluence


  • 32 river miles
  • Class I to IV

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Ponderosa Gorge
47 miles | Class III-IV | 3 days

Here the river flows down through the high country, clear green and cold, teeming with trout. Camping under the branches of ancient 100' Ponderosa pines, you can listen to the roar of the legendary Class IV Snaggletooth Rapid, the beginning of one of the most challenging stretches of whitewater in the West, culminating in the fury of the Narrows ten miles downstream.

Prices start from:
Raft for 1 day - $116 per person
Raft for 2 days - $336 per person
Raft for 3 days - $499 per person

Slickrock Canyon
50 miles | Class II-III | 2-3 days

Slowing its flow as it enters the grottos and side canyons of Slickrock, float past towering walls streaked with desert varnish and forming the most enchanting and beautiful desert canyon in the American Southwest. Hidden in the mysterious corners of the canyons are prehistoric Anasazi pictographs and ruins. More moderate rapids in this section of the river provide a good stretch for instructional kayak, canoe or inflatable kayaking. Camp beneath canyon overhangs, where the “Ancient Ones” camped thousands of years ago.

Prices start from:
Raft for 4 days - $672 per person
Raft for 5 days - $799 per person
Raft for 6 days - $899 per person

Hanging Flume Canyon
45 miles | Class II-III | 2-3 days

After leaving Slickrock Canyon , the Dolores River meanders across Paradox Valley beneath giant cottonwoods where rookeries of Great Blue Heron and other bird life thrive. Below Paradox Canyon the river reaches its confluence with the San Miguel River (doubling its volume) and enters Hanging Flume Canyon . The tattered remains of the flume built in the 1800’s to transport water to the “high bar” of Lone Tree Placer Mine can still be seen suspended hundreds of feet above the river.

Prices start from:
Raft for 8 days - $1,439 per person
Raft for 10 days - $1,848 per person

Lower Gateway Canyon
38 miles | Class III-IV | 2-3 days

The last section of the Dolores River before its confluence with the Colorado River brings you Gateway Canyon and offers again the challenge of technical whitewater thrills. Abundant birds and wildlife surround you along with Indian rock art, both petroglyphs and pictographs, found on the canyon walls. We float beyond the “Rio Nuestra Senora de los Dolores” and mingle with the Colorado River under the historic Deway Bridge in Castle Valley.

Prices start from:
Raft for 2 days - $325 per person
Raft for 3 days - $499 per person

If you have any questions regarding a trip, please fill out our form. This will speed up the process in providing accurate information regarding your trip.


Utah's Canyon Country

In the heart of Utah's Canyon Country runs the Dolores River . This is one of the area's best kept secrets since being discovered by Spanish explorers in 1765. Since then, only a handful of people have come to experience this great river. It is a remote place known only to a few adventurers. Rapids range from mild to wild, generally Class II to IV. Options for river runners include paddle or oar rafts and inflatable kayaks. The river running season is limited to spring run-off - late April through early June. McPhee Dam releases water during that time to allow for snow melt to be stored in the reservoir. This time of year guarantees spectacular wildflowers!

Miles of Wilderness

A raft trip on the Dolores River offers more un-broken miles of wilderness river scenery and white water rafting thrills than any river trip in the lower forty-eight states. One of America’s best rafting runs, ranking only behind the Grand Canyon of the Colorado and Middle Fork of the Salmon as a classic paddling experience. The Dolores River is at its most run-able state in early spring run (mid-April thru mid-June) for white water rafting trips.

Rocky Mountains

Enjoy Dolores River ’s thrilling rapids, surrounded at first by the spectacular Rocky Mountains and then deep, red rock canyon walls. It flows 230 miles north from the Bear Mountains in Colorado lying deep within the San Juan National Forest . Winding through Arches National Park with its towering red rock canyons, petroglyphs and ruins of the Anasazi peoples, then into areas rich in history of gold, silver and carnotite (used to produce uranium) mining, before emptying into the Colorado River just across the border in sunny Utah.


Side hikes offer opportunities for exploration. There are numerous prehistoric Indian ruins and petroglyphs along the river; traces of the ancient inhabitants that developed a complex civilization here. These ruins are remnants of the Anasazi Indians and are between 700 and 1500 years old. These canyons were their home and provided them with food, water and protection. We hike to their ruins, sharing what we know of their ancient lifestyles and pondering all that we don’t know. The Dolores River was discovered and named by Fathers Escalante and Dominguez in 1776, during their unsuccessful attempt to find a route from New Mexico to California . Since then, mineral discoveries have been responsible for most of the influx of people to this area. Silver was discovered in 1879, followed by gold, and then, later, by uranium ore. The weathered timbers and mine shafts are all that remain of this wealthy era. Now, it’s the rich farmland that keeps people here.

Highly Technical Rapids

This is a first class whitewater adventure with highly technical rapids ranging from class II to V depending on water level. Because the river running season is short on the Dolores, this trip can be done only in late April, May and sometimes early June in a good water year. Leave civilization behind and rejuvenate your mind and spirit. Your body naturally slows down to a peaceful rhythm, moving with the flow of the water. A few days in these remote canyons will reenergize you. Then take the peace and serenity of the canyons back with you to your daily life.