White water rafting through a magical Desert Canyon on Colorado’s Dolores River
The Dolores is a classic western river, unspoiled, with a majestic desert backdrop. In May and early June we take advantage of the warm temperatures and early season runoff to raft this exceptional wilderness river. Enormous Ponderosa pines grow in stark contrast with a landscape of red and orange sandstone cliffs. This results in a striking kaleidoscope of color unique to the Dolores River as the scenery changes through five major western life zones, from the alpine life zone at its headwaters to Upper Sonoran desert terrain along much of its lower reaches.
Dolores River Trips:
The traverse of the Dolores takes one through an area as interesting for its history as for its rare natural beauty. It is not known who named the Rio de Nuestra Senora de las Dolores (River of our Lady of Sorrows) and when they did so, but the Spaniards knew it by that name when Dominquez and Escalante joined it near the present day town of Dolores, Colorado on August 11, 1776. They were searching for a northern route to the California missions. The unspoiled character encountered by Dominquez and Escalante remains today.
The Dolores River is located about 30 miles northwest of Cortez Colorado, home of Mesa Verde National Park. It is west of Telluride and Durango and within easy driving distance.
Dolores River Resources:
Our Dolores River trips meet in Cortez, CO, with a short shuttle to the departure point.
Complete lists of what to bring, what we provide, where to meet, policies, rental costs and info.
Photos of the Dolores River as well as the other river we raft, area wildlife, our staff and many more.
Overview Map of the Dolores River showing section names,
rapids and other features.