The Anthropologists on your trip will want to stop at McDonald Canyon where Fremont, Ute, and Cowboy rock art can be seen. This visual history is a record of human use of these canyons for hundreds of years and should be respected. The abuse and vandalism of some of these sites remind the viewer never to touch the artwork. Be respectful and allow others to experience an undisturbed sense of discovery and wonder at these sites.
The Ruby-Horsethief Canyons on the Colorado River provide a classic desert boating experience. This river section has a lot to offer and can be enjoyed by all skill levels from the first timers to those who have lost count. Anyone who likes being outside, calm stretches of water and fantastic camping opportunities will not be mad about taking this trip. The opportunity to connect this stretch with a permitted Westwater trip make for an exciting multi day passage through rocks, rapids and time.
JUNCTION OF THE GRAND
Horsetheif flows through the 123,000 acre McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area (MCNCA) and runs along the boundary of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. These land designations will help provide the opportunity to raft through secluded red rock canyons for generations to come. This rugged country has always offered seculsion to those seeking it and hense the upper canyons name. The 25 mile stretch from Loma, CO to Westwater, UT is comprised of class I-II whitewater making it the perfect desert river trip for families, beginners or seasoned boaters looking for an easily accessible desert rafting trip.
Wildlife viewing opportunities on this section are numerous. Desert Bighorns are once again populating the side canyons and can sometimes be seen at the river’s edge. Nesting Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons provide excitement to rafters, be careful not to disturb the nesting sites. The call of the Canyon Wren is the classic song of desert canyons and those with open ears will be rewarded by their serenade through these canyons. Along with these are the usual desert citizens, bring a field guide and have fun getting to know your neighbors.
The canyon’s geology is breathtaking with sheer Wingate and Entrada Sandstone cliffs often rising straight from the river and offering wonderful canyon hiking opportunities for those wise enough to take their time along this stretch. The Rattlesnake Monocline marks the end of Horsethief canyon and the entrance to Ruby canyon. Wingate Spires mark Mee Canyon, an excellent hiking opportunity with large campsites. Around the next bend is the Black Rocks Monocline and the Black Rocks section.
In this section 200 million year old sandstone sits directly on top of 1.7 billion year old metamorphic Schist. Luckily the amazing camp opportunities give rafters plenty of time to ponder this gap in geologic record known as nonconformity. The canyon begins to widen after crossing into Utah and as the Westwater boat ramp comes into view, large cliff faces on river left offer views of Morrison Shale formation and Entrada Sandstone.
The accessibility and calm stretches of river combined with excellent camping and hiking opportunities have resulted in making this an extremely popular weekend rafting destination. Because of this popularity the BLM has instituted a permit system for campsites from May 1 – September. Day use permits are not required. Always communicate with other boaters and adhere to your permitted sites.