Exciting rapids, desert scenery and towering pines

Ponderosa Gorge


Ponderosa Gorge Trip Search:




Trip Length

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ponderosa gorge overview

In Ponderosa Canyon, the Dolores is a river in transition from a mountain stream to a desert river. It flows through a red sandstone canyon covered in brilliant green scrub oak. The shore is lined with willows and ponderosa pines, and the river is charged with exciting, rocky rapids. The biggest and most famous rapid on this section is Snaggletooth, which should be scouted before running.

Recommended For: Boaters comfortable in the wilderness and experienced at class III-IV whitewater.

Recommended Trips on Ponderosa Gorge – Dolores River:

Ponderosa Gorge 3 Day Trip

Raft fantastic early season whitewater on the Dolores River – a true gem in the southwest. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the red rock cliff gorge while you navigate exciting class III-IV rapids on a river surrounded by towering pine trees. Departing near Durango and Cortez, CO, raft during late May-early June on this trip suitable for all skill levels and ages 10+.

Adult price : $749


Ponderosa & Slick Rock 6 Day Trip

Take time to truly unwind on this superb desert getaway that combines two breathtaking sections of the Dolores River. The fast-paced rapids of Ponderosa Gorge giveway to the mild, winding water of Slick Rock Canyon. Located near Durango and Cortez, CO, raft in late May-early June through both exciting rapids and mild water. Those ages 10+ and all skill levels are suitable for this adventure.

Adult price : $1369


Dolores River 10-Day Utah Rafting in Gateway Canyon

Emerging from Slick Rock Canyon the river enters Paradox Valley, an interesting geologic phenomenon where the river cuts across the valley rather than through the middle of it! This valley was extensively occupied by Pueblo Indian culture and was also famous in western history as a route through which rustlers traversed to sell stolen stock in the mining camps. In the spring, nesting waterfowl abound in the natural but unprotected refuge.

Rafting the Dolores River

Adult price : $2289


panderosa gorge sections

Dolores River – Ponderosa Gorge Whitewater Rafting Details:

Difficulty: Class III-IV (What does this mean?)
Elevation: 6457′ to 5472′
Average Gradient: 20.8′ per mile

Access to Access

Bradfield Bridge to Mountain Sheep Point: 19 miles
Mountain Sheep Point to Slick Rock: 28.3 miles
Total Mileage: 47.3 miles

Click Here for Current Water Flows



What people are saying

  • Lydia filled us with confidence. She was skilled and knowledgeable and explained each set of rapids so we knew what to expect. She was great company and we had the best experience. She was brilliant.

    Dwight W. Rafter
  • I cannot wait to come back! Also loved how funny all the guides were. It was the most I’ve seen my sister laugh in a long time! Thank you so much for this amazing experience.

    Lexi R. Rafter
  • I spent several days researching various rafting options and after speaking w/your team was sold. We were not disappointed-the trip is spectacular and our guide Sean was informative, lively professional and entertaining.

    Lauren C. Rafter


Information for Dolores Self-Guided Boaters:

The Dolores River (Ponderosa Gorge and Slick Rock Canyons) are managed by the Bureau of Land Management out of Dolores, CO.

  • Boating Permit Required: NO
  • Permit Details: No fee of any kind is required to float the river, although there are group size limits.
  • River Manager: U.S Bureau of Land Management – Tres Rios Field Office
    29211 Hwy 184, Dolores, CO 81323
    970.882.7296 ~ www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/sjplc.html

Please contact the river manager (above) for information on shuttles.

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