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Dolores River Colorado - River Trips for Kayaking & Canoeing Dolores River
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site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: Colorado River Trips  :: Dolores River Colorado

Kayaking & Canoeing Dolores River Colorado

Dolores Canyon
 photos of Dolores Canyon  map of Dolores Canyon
Put-in:  Bradfield Bridge
Take-out:  Slick Rock
Difficulty:  Class III
Length:  47 miles
Little Glen and Slick Rock Canyon
 map of Little Glen and Slick Rock Canyon
Put-in:  Slick Rock
Take-out:  Bedrock
Difficulty:  Class III-
Length:  50 miles
Paradox and Mesa Canyon
 map of Paradox and Mesa Canyon
Put-in:  Bedrock
Take-out:  Gateway
Difficulty:  Class III, II
Length:  45 miles
Gateway Canyon
 map of Gateway Canyon
Put-in:  Gateway
Take-out:  Dewey Bridge, Colorado River Confluence
Difficulty:  Class II+
Length:  33 miles
Tributary - San Miguel, Ledges
Put-in:  BB 36 RD
Take-out:  Green Tuss Bridge
Difficulty:  Class III @ 900 cfs
Length:  5.2 miles
Tributary - San Miguel, Norwood Canyon
Put-in:  Norwood Bridge
Take-out:  Green Tuss Bridge
Difficulty:  Class III
Length:  16 miles
Tributary - San Miguel, Sawpit
Put-in:  Silverpick RD
Take-out:  Fall Creek RD
Difficulty:  Class III > 800 cfs
Length:  7.3 miles


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.

Boaters 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 plan accordingly.


Private boaters have their choice of a few different overnight trips. The lower, from Slickrock to Bedrock is the most beautiful, but does not feature very many rapids. This is more of a float through a colorful desert canyon. If you are looking for more whitewater and challenging rapids, opt for the Cahone to Slickrock section, which offers plentiful camping, fun boulder gardens, and mostly read-and-run rapids.

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Dolores River Colorado - River Trips for Kayaking & Canoeing Dolores River
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