Thu - July 13, 2006

Camping in Ruby and Horsethief Canyons of the Colorado River

Canyonlands RIver Guider Christina King from Pike Peaks River Runners sent the following letter to fellow paddlers concerning camping on a popular stretch of the Colorado River:
I had promised the Ruby/Horsethief river rangers to help get the word out about camping issues in the Ruby/Horsethief section near Grand Junction.

We floated this section over the Fourth of July weekend and they shared with us that boaters signing up for campsites and sticking to a campsite plan continues to be problematic in this section of river. They have set up a voluntary campsite registration system at Loma but unfortunately it's not always used consistently. Some boaters forget to sign up for a camp, others change plans while on the river (for many reasons), others layover and don't write that info in, etc.... The result is that trying to plan for a particular campsite is difficult. So.... they have a suggestion. Please sign in at Loma, select an intended campsite, try to stick to that plan, because other boaters in the Ruby/Horsethief sections count on the plans you make (and write down) when they choose their campsites. BLM has helped boaters to locate camps by placing campsite posts on the designated campsites (which really helps in the Black Rocks section).

We came across this problem when we signed up for what appeared to be an open camp (BR #9), it was filled so we bailed out at BR #7 which was open when we arrived but knew it was taken on paper at Loma when we launched. Turns out that no one floated by who had planned on taking BR #7 but I'm sure you can see how this can have a rippling effect on many other groups as they float downriver. There are no "formal" assigned camps but it sure does make planning for campsites easier when boaters stick to their original plans. If you can pass along this info to other boaters who use this stretch, the rangers would appreciate it.

Enjoy our Ruby/Horsethief/Westwater story.


Pikes Peak River Runners

I have paddled the Colorado River from Loma or Fruita to Westwater a couple of times, but always as a day trip and always off season. So, I have never experienced camping problems there. I imagine how crowded this stretch of the river can be in summer.

Unfortunately, during those trips I always reached the Black Rocks around noon and had a really bad light to photograph this magnificent rock formation. Someday, I have to go for the overnight night trip to have plenty of time for shooting at sunset and sunrise.

The above pictures and the video clip below come from the April 2003 trip with Canon PowerShot S40 camera. Most of the video was shot with the camera in a waterproof case mounted on a mini tripod on a front deck of my Sea Wind canoe.

What a harsh light in comparison to a beautifully soft light over the foggy Suwannee River!

Colorado River
Palisade to Westwater

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