Colorado Riverway Special Recreation Management Area

  Colorado Riverway Recreation Area
The Colorado Riverway SRMA extends along the Colorado River from Dewey Bridge to Canyonlands National Park, and includes lands up Colorado River tributaries such as Kane Creek, the Dolores River, Castle Creek and Onion Creek. The SRMA encompasses 89,936 public land acres. It is a scenic wonderland of colorful cliffs, river-carved canyons, lush bottom lands, and massive sandstone spires. As steward of the Public Land within the Colorado Riverway, it is the goal of the BLM to preserve the scenic  and environmental qualities of this remarkable area, while providing opportunities for public recreation.

Colorado Riverway Special Recreation Management Area


Recreational Opportunities along the Riverway

Picnic Facilities
Picnic facilities are available along Utah Highway 128 at Lion's Park, Big Bend Recreation Site, and Hittle Bottom. No permits or fees are required for day use at these sites.

Hiking Trails
Along Utah Highway 128, improved hiking trails provide access to scenic Fisher Towers and Negro Bill Canyon. The Portal Overlook Trail (which starts at JayCee Park and is also used by mountain bikers) and Corona Arch Trail are located along Utah Highway 279. From the Kane Creek Road, the Moab Rim OHV Trail takes hikers to an excellent viewpoint of Moab Valley and the unimproved Hunters Canyon Trail follows a seasonal stream along the bottom of a serpentine canyon bottom.  Click here for more information on hiking trails.

Mountain Bike Trails
Mountain bike routes accessible from the Riverway include: Kokopelli's Trail, the Onion Creek Road, and the Porcupine Rim Trail (bottom) from Utah Highway 128; the Poison Spider Mesa, Long Canyon, and Potash trails from Utah Highway 279, and the Moab Rim, Pritchett Canyon, and Hurrah Pass trails from the Kane Creek Road.  Click here for more information on mountain bike trails

Off-Highway Vehicle Trails
The trailheads for several four-wheel drive trails are located within the Riverway. These trails provide access to Poison Spider Mesa, Long Canyon, and Pritchett Canyon. The Potash Trail, which begins at the western end of Utah Highway 279, goes along a bench below Dead Horse Point State Park to the Shafer and White Rim Trails in Canyonlands National Park. The Onion Creek Road can be driven in dry conditions with a high clearance vehicle. The Kane Creek Canyon Road may be driven with care by visitors with passenger cars to where it crosses Kane Creek.  Click here for more information on motorized routes.

Colorado RiverwayRiver Running
Rafting, kayaking, and canoeing take place on the Colorado River from late spring through early fall. From Dewey Bridge to Onion Creek the river is calm. There are rapids from Onion Creek to Big Bend Recreation Site. Depending on season and flows, you may encounter rapids ranging from Class I to Class IV. From Big Bend Rapid to Potash at the western end of the Riverway, there are no rapids, but there is a fast water section for about 1/2 mile below Big Bend. Launch areas (upstream to downstream) are located at: Dewey Bridge, Hittle Bottom, Rocky Rapid, Sandy Beach, Take-out Beach, and the Moab Boat Dock (opposite Lion's Park on the north side of the river). The Potash Boat Ramp at MGM Bottom, located about 2 miles below the potash plant, is the last take-out above Hite on Lake Powell. Click here for more information on river recreation.

Camping along the Riverway
Camping is permitted only at improved sites with camping facilities managed for overnight use and at designated, undeveloped camp sites. Camping at all sites is limited to 14 days within a 30 day period. Fees are charged for campgrounds and semi-developed campsites. Click here for more information on camping opportunities.

Group Sites
The group sites at Goose Island and Big Bend, on Utah Highway 128, and Goldbar, on Utah Highway 279 are available on an advance reservation basis. Click here for information on group camping opportunities.

Commercial Campgrounds and Lodging
Public land camping is limited. To assure yourself of a space, consider making a reservation at a private campground or lodging establishment in the Moab/Green River area. Click here for Utah Travel Council, Canyonlands Region Home Page.

Disabled Persons Access
Accessible group areas, campsites and day-use facilities are being developed at the Big Bend Recreation Site. Construction of an accessible viewpoint is planned at Fisher Towers. Call the Moab BLM office for status at (435) 259-2100. Campgrounds and most developed day-use sites have accessible toilets. Access to these toilets and adjacent parking is not difficult at most sites.

Drinking Water
Treated drinking water is not available anywhere within the Riverway. Matrimony Spring, located along Utah Highway 128 just upstream from the Colorado River Bridge, is a source of untreated water. All untreated water should be filtered or chemically treated prior to drinking.

Day Use Areas
No overnight camping is permitted at:

  • Negro Bill Canyon Trailhead
  • Big Bend Beach & Picnic Area
  • Take-out Beach
  • Sandy Beach
  • Rocky Rapid
  • Hittle Bottom (outside of the camping area)

Special Rules

When visiting the Riverway, please follow the following rules:

  • Camping is permitted only at improved recreation sites with facilities managed for overnight use and at designated undeveloped campsites.
  • Portable toilets are required for overnight use of designated, undeveloped campsites. Toilets may include either a washable, reusable toilet system such as a "porta-pottie", or in the case of recreational vehicles, a holding tank.
  • Solid human body waste must be disposed of out of the Riverway using authorized sewer systems, i.e., at recreational vehicle dump stations or by flushing down sewer lines.
  • Visitors must pack out all trash and dispose of it properly.
  • Campfires are limited to metal fire rings at improved sites and existing rock rings at designated, undeveloped sites. Barbecue grills and metal fire pans may also be used.  Do not put cans, bottles, aluminum foil, and other non-burnable items into your fire as these items foul the fire pit.  Do not extinguish a campfire with soil as it will make it difficult for the next visitor to use the same fire ring. Allow wood to burn to ash and douse the fire with water, then stir it until it is completely out. Fire pans should be at least 24 inches in diameter and have a 3 inch lip. Set the pan on rocks a couple of inches above the ground so that the heat from the fire does not scar the soil. Take care of cold ashes by transferring them to a trash bag for proper disposal.
  • Wood collection for fires is limited to driftwood.
  • Vehicle use is limited to existing roads and trails. Drivers must adhere to posted travel restrictions.  The creation of new informal travel routes is unsightly and ecologically destructive. Take care to avoid crushing fragile cryptobiotic soil (the black or brown crusty "stuff" between the rocks and vegetation). This soil nurtures vegetation and reduces erosion.

These rules are necessary to maintain the quality of the Riverway as a recreation destination
and for public health and safety. Violators may be cited.

Be Safe, Not Sorry

  • Swimming in the Colorado River is not recommended due to currents and hidden hazards. If you must swim, wear a life jacket.
  • Never dive into the river. Underwater hazards are hidden by the muddy water.
  • Take a hat, sunscreen and clothing appropriate for the weather and planned activities.
  • Drink plenty of water during warm weather.
  • Be wary of the Riverway's natural hazards, such as cliff rims, steep slopes, and thorny plants. Rattlesnakes and scorpions exist in the area, but are seldom seen. All snakes should be avoided, not killed.