Ruby Horsethief Canyon Permits
The Ruby-Horsethief section of the Colorado River, from Loma, Colorado, to Westwater, Utah, is a 25-mile stretch of mostly flat-water with sections of Class I and II rapids. This section of the Colorado runs through beautiful red rock canyons and has many day hike opportunities offering both solitude and exploration. The Black Rocks 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 in the area including great blue herons, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep. Please note that humans are prohibited from approaching within a 0.5 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.
Due to limited camping in this 25-mile stretch of the Colorado, overnight camping permits are required year-round and must be reserved in advance. Permits are available 60 days in advance. During the months of May through September, there is a fee for the overnight camping permit and reservation, although children 16 years old and under camp for free, year-round. From November through April, an overnight camping permit is required, however, a fee is charged for the reservation only (there is no fee for the overnight camping permit). There is a maximum of 25 heartbeats per group, including adults, children, and dogs (two dogs per group). Please note, dogs are considered part of your permit's group total and fees are assessed for dogs just as they are for people.
A permit is not required for day use in Ruby-Horsethief.
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 provides 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!
Along this section of river you will encounter Class I and II rapids. It is recommended you check the streamflow data when planning your trip, especially during spring runoff, which can vary greatly from year to year. Extra care is needed with any type of watercraft when the streamflow is over 30,000 CFS (cubic feet per second). Canoes are not recommended at all until the streamflow drops below 20,000 CFS, and between 10,000 and 20,000 CFS only highly experienced canoeists should attempt this section of river. Family raft trips are best done when the river drops to below 5,000 CFS. Spring runoff causes the river to become muddy with heavy debris.
You can also check the Colorado River Outfitters Association Water Report.