A great western river 

Lower Colorado River


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lower colorado river overview

As the Colorado River makes its way west towards Utah it is wide and flat. Although there are many peaceful portions of this stretch everything above the town of Palisade is not frequently boated due to the presence of the Interstate and several dams. With the exception of locals floating the Grand Junction area in inner tubes, Ruby-Horsethief and Westwater are by far the most popular stretches.

• Difficulty: Class I-IV (What does this mean?)
• Season: May – August (Peak)

White Water Rafting Trips on the Lower Colorado River:

Trip Lengths:
Full & 2 Day (Ruby-Horse)
Adventure Bound River Expeditions
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Trip Lengths:
3 Day (Westwater)
Western River Expeditions
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Wilderness Aware Rafting does not operate trips on the Lower Colorado River. Information regarding the Lower Colorado River on this website is strictly informational. Please click here for a complete list of trips that we offer, or use the search filter to the left. Thanks!

lower colorado river sections

Lower Colorado River Rafting Sections:

New Castle to Palisade
Class I-II 
Wide and peaceful with few rapids. Various access points allow trips to be tailored to any length.

Palisade to Loma
Class I-II 
Mild and wide with a handful of small rapids creating a pleasant float section that’s close to Grand Junction.

Ruby-Horsethief Canyon
Class I-II 
A gentle section of river away from the distraction of the cities and interstate. Beautiful scenery and gentle rapids create a great trip for all levels of experience.

Westwater Canyon
Class III-IV 
Popular section filled with exciting whitewater and spectacular canyon scenery.



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 Lower Colorado River Self-Guided Boaters:

New Castle to Palisade

The Lower Colorado River (New Castle to Palisade) is managed by the Bureau of Land Management out of Silt, CO.

  • Boating Permit Required: NO
  • Permit Details: No fee of any kind is required to float the river.
  • River Manager: U.S Bureau of Land Management – Colorado River Valley Field Office 
    2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652 
    970.876.9000 ~ www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/crvfo.html
Palisade to Loma and Ruby-Horsethief Canyon

The Upper Colorado River (Palisade to Loma and Ruby-Horsethief Canyon) is managed by the Bureau of Land Management out of Grand Junction, CO.

  • Boating Permit Required: NO
  • Permit Details: No fee of any kind is required to float the river, but you do need to buy a pass to use the BLM managed and private access sites and you must secure a permit to camp within Ruby-Horsethief in advance.
  • River Manager: U.S Bureau of Land Management – Grand Junction Field Office
    2815 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 81506
    970.244.3000 ~ www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo.html
Westwater Canyon

The Upper Colorado River through Westwater Canyon is managed by the Bureau of Land Management out of Moab, UT.

  • Boating Permit Required: YES
  • Permit Details: Between April 1st and September 30th, private use is limited to five permits or 75 people (whichever occurs first) per day. From October 1st through the end of February, private use is limited to seven permits or 120 people per day. Visit the Westwater Canyon section page, self-guided boater information, for details on obtaining a permit.
  • River Manager: U.S Bureau of Land Management – Moab Field Office 
    82 East Dogwood, Moab, UT 84532 
    435.259.2100 ~ www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab.html

If shuttle service is available, information is listed under the specific section page.

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