Boating in McInnis Canyons NCA
The Ruby-Horsethief section of the Colorado River, from Loma, Colorado, to Westwater, Utah, is a 25-mile stretch of mostly flatwater with sections of Class I and II. This section of the Colorado runs through beautiful red rock canyons and has many day hike opportunities offering both solitude and exploration. The Black Rock section is composed of rock known as Vishnu schist, which dates back about 1.7 billion years. This same rock, which geologists refer to as “an unconformity”, is exposed in certain sections of the Grand Canyon. There is an abundance of wildlife including great blue herons, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep. Please note that humans are prohibited from approaching within ½ mile of eagle nests or harassing the birds in any way. Look up in old cottonwoods trees and you are likely to spot the nests and eagles.
Motorized use is allowed in Ruby Canyon. Visitors can expect to see motorized and non-motorized craft in Ruby Canyon. How both groups can enjoy the river together.
Overnight camping is available in any of the 33 designated campsites and requires a permit . No permit is required for day use of the river.
Click here for a pdf map of Ruby-Horsethief stretch and the campsites.
Click here to find out which campsites are available to reserve.
Once you start downriver you are committed to going all the way to Westwater.
Seasonal Information: Know Before You Go!
Ruby-Horsethief is a remote section of river with spotty to non-existent cell service. There are no other takeouts until Westwater, and rescues are long and cumbersome. Conditions vary depending on seasonal flows, especially for canoeists. Please see the Ruby-Horsethief Boating Information page for more information.
Spring weather can be extremely variable with hot days followed by snow followed by high winds followed by cold rains. Summer days can be very hot and buggy. There is little shade along the river. Rain storms are usually short but somewhat violent. Summer nights are usually comfortable. Fall is the most consistent weather with warm days, cool nights, and infrequent rain. However, several days of long, cold, heavy and steady rain can occur at any time. The key is being prepared for almost anything!
River Permits are required year around. Blm issued permits from May through September and self issued through October through April.
See a river otter on your trip?
Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to know about it! Click here to report your sighting. It only takes a few minutes and helps track populations. Not sure if you saw a river otter? Click here for more information and how to tell the difference between river otters and other Colorado mammals.