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Lower Dolores River

Dolores River - Gateway, CO to Colorado River ConfluenceDolores River

The Lower stretch of the Dolores River offers technical rapids, stunning scenery, wildlife viewing, side-canyon hiking, and great camping. NOTE: This river segment has a very unpredictable and short boating season. 

Private permit required: Yes for private (see below) and commercial use 

Time: 2 or 3 days

Length: 32 miles from the Gateway, Colorado bridge to Dewey Bridge Campground (on the Colorado River)

Main River Recreation Page

Rapids on this section of the Dolores River range from class I to solid class IV. The most challenging rapid is Stateline (class IV), which begins at the Colorado-Utah border. This mile-long rock garden requires excellent scouting (from river right) and quick maneuvering at all water levels. A mistake made in this this rapid can result in a very long and dangerous swim. Bring an adequate amount of drinking water as the Dolores and its tributaries are unfit for consumption. Land ownership on the Lower Dolores is mixed; please respect the rights of private landowners.

The main roadblock for running this stretch is a very erratic and short (sometimes non-existent) boating season. Flows generally peak between late April and early May. Suggested minimum flows (approximated) are: 200 cfs for canoes, kayaks, and duckies, 800 cfs for rafts less than 14 feet, and 1000 cfs for rafts larger than 14 feet. Current streamflow conditions are available on the U.S. Geological Survey website. For information on current levels at McPhee Reservoir, please visit the Dolores Water Conservancy District (DWCD) website.

Private permits: There is no fee charged and you do not need to submit an application. Simply call (435) 259-2102 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays) to obtain a permit. A last-minute reservation request or change to an existing permit can be easily accommodated if you have access to a fax machine. Please note that the permit must be signed by the trip leader and carried on the river to be authorized. By signing, the trip leader agrees to follow the River Use Stipulations that accompany the permit. Please leave your permit in the camp fee tube at the Dewey Bridge campground at the end of your trip. If you have questions, please call (435) 259-2102.

Lower Dolores River Information Sheet 

River Use Stipulations for the Lower Dolores River

For information on the Dolores River in Colorado, contact:

Bradfield Bridge to Slickrock & Slickrock to Bedrock
Bureau of Land Management
Dolores Field Office
100 North 6th Street, P.O.Box 210
Dolores, CO 81323
(970) 882-7296

Bedrock to Gateway
Bureau of Land Management
Uncompahgre Field Office
2505 S Townsend
Montrose, CO 81401
(970) 240-5300