The Dolores flows northwest toward the confluence of the Colorado River near the tiny town of Gateway. It was named for “Rio de Nuestra Senora de las Dolores” (River of our Lady of Sorrows) by two Spanish Catholic priests who passed through the area in 1776 on a journey to extend their missions out from New Mexico.
The Dolores begins in the forested Rocky Mountains and rumbles down steep canyons of red rock. Close to the gateway into Utah, the majestic desert backdrop and contrast of colors make the Dolores a classic western river that often looks like a backdrop from an Old Western movie.
Rafters will experience a kaleidoscope of colors from the deep green of the pine trees that line the shore, to the bright flame orange of the stand stone cliffs. There are beautiful side hikes to ancient granaries and many lovely side canyons to explore. Interesting geological sites featuring Native American rock art and fossilized dinosaur prints give this trip an historic dimension.
Rapids on this stretch of the river range from Class II to Class IV and the season to run this is quite short – usually just May through early June during a normal water year, so book your trip early to ensure your group gets a spot.