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BLM>Colorado>Field Offices>Uncompahgre>Recreation>Dolores River Boating Info
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Historic Hanging Flume Placer Gold Mining Operation

  

Uncompahgre Field Office

DOLORES RIVER: Boater Information

  Rafting the Dolores 

Hanging Flume Overlook

 
 

SIDEWINDER TRAIL

OUTFITTERS & PERMITS

UFO HOMEPAGE

GUNNISON GORGE

RECREATION PASSES

The Dolores River flows for more than 200 miles through southwestern Colorado, starting high in the San Juan Mountains and descending to its confluence with the Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah border.  In an average snowpack year, the river is boatable from late April to early June, while in a dry year, there may be no boatable flows at all.  The Dolores flows through five major western life zones, from the Alpine Life Zone at its headwaters to the Upper Sonoran Life Zone along much of its lower reach (from 6,400 to 5,000 feet in elevation).


BOATER INFORMATION

 
 
Permits
While private permits are not required for boating the Dolores River within Colorado, the BLM does require all boaters to register at one of the access points.
 

Group Size Limit

25 people from Bedrock to Gateway

 
Required Equipment
All overnight boating parties on the Dolores River are required to use:
  • Porta-potty for human waste
  • Strainer for dishwater
  • Tarp or scrim material is recommended for use as "kitchen" flooring
  • Firepans for all open fires

Flows

Flows on the Dolores are dependent on snowpack and releases from McPhee Reservoir, located 12.5 miles upstream of the Bradfield launch site and controlled by the Dolores Water Conservancy District.  Be sure to check current release and flow information before planning your trip.

Recommended Minimum Flows:

  • 200 cfs - canoes/kayaks/inflatables
  • 800 cfs - small to 14-foot rafts
  • 1,000 cfs - large to 18-foot rafts

Length of Season

Through the Canyon

In an average snowpack year, the river is boatable from late April to early June.  In a dry year, there may be no boatable flows at all.

 

 

DOLORES RIVER MAP

RIVER LOG: Bedrock to Gateway

UFO OUTFITTERS/SPECIAL RECREATION PERMITS

LEAVE NO TRACE RIVER ETHICS

 

Dolores River Restoration Partnership


BEDROCK TO GATEWAY

 
 
This 44-mile section drops 460 feet with an average gradient of 10.5 feet per mile.  The five-mile long Paradox Canyon has several class III to IV rapids.  Just below this, the Dolores meets the San Miguel River, which often nearly doubles the flow volume.  The wider Mesa Canyon below here is paralleled by Colorado Highway 141 and contains rapids no more difficult than class II.
 
Access Points
  • The Bedrock access is just south and west of the Bedrock Bridge.  Facilities include a launch ramp, parking, picnic tables, grills and shelters.  There are no toilets or potable water.  Camping is allowed but is very primitive.
  • Other river access is possible along a dirt road in Paradox Canyon, several places along the San Miguel River, and Colorado Highway 141.
  • The Gateway access is upstream from the Colorado Highway 141 bridge near Gateway.

Maps:  Paradox and Gateway USGS topographic quads; Nucla and Delta BLM surface management status maps

 

Dolores River Guide:  This publication covers 173 miles of the Dolores River from the Bradfield launch site to the confluence with the Colorado River in Utah.  This 92-page waterproof guide includes detailed topographic maps showing river miles, campsites, and launch sites as well as other useful information.  It is available in Colorado from the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores at (970) 882-4811, the San Juan Mountains Association in Durango at (970) 247-4874, the USFS Dolores Ranger District in Dolores at (970) 882-7296, local retail bookstores, boating shops, and several mail-order suppliers.

 

COMMERCIAL OUTFITTERS

 
 

The following commercial outfitters are currently authorized by the BLM to operate on the Dolores River:

 
Deer Hill ExpeditionsWilderness Aware
Jason KrollJoe Greiner
PO Box 180PO Box 1550
Mancos, CO  81328Buena Vista, CO  81211
Phone:  970.533.7492Phone:  719.395.2112
Email:  jason@deerhillexpedtions.comEmail:  joe@inaraft.com
Website:  www.deerhillexpeditions.comWebsite:  www.inaraft.com
 
For more information, contact a BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner at:
 
 

2505 South Townsend

 

 

Montrose, Colorado  81401

 

 

Phone:  970.240.5300

 
   

OTHER SECTIONS OF THE DOLORES

 
 
For information on boating the Dolores from Bradfield Bridge to Bedrock, visit the BLM San Juan Public Lands Center or contact:
15 Burnett Court
Durango, CO  81301
Phone:  970.247.4874
 
A permit is required for boating in Utah.  For information on boating the Dolores from Gateway to the Colorado River confluence, visit the BLM Moab Field Office River Recreation webpage or contact:
82 East Dogwood, Suite M
Moab, Utah  84532
Phone:  435.259.7012

8am-12pm Mon-Fri

 

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Barbara Sharrow, Field Manager

bsharrow@blm.gov

Phone: (970) 240-5300  |  TDD: (970) 240-5366  |  FAX: (970) 240-5367

2465 S. Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO  81401

Office Hours: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Click on the address above for a map showing the location of

BLM Uncompahgre Field Office administrative headquarters

 

San Miguel annd Dolores River Confluence Landscape