Dolores River Rafting
Price: $$
River Rapid Class: Ponderosa Gorge: III-IV; Slickrock Canyon: III-IV; Gateway Canyon: II-IV
Trip in Miles: Ponderosa Gorge: 50 miles; Slickrock Canyon: 50 miles; Gateway Canyon: 168 miles
Trip Duration: Ponderosa Gorge: 3 days; Slickrock Canyon: 3 or 6 days; Gateway Canyon: 10 days
Season: May-June
Raft Types: Paddle Raft, Oar Raft
River Sections: Ponderosa Gorge, Slickrock Canyon, Gateway Canyon
Nearby Towns: Cortez (CO)
Gateway City: Cortez (CO)
Driving Times: Telluride (CO): 2 hours; Grand Junction (CO): 4 hours

The Dolores is a classic western river with a striking desert backdrop. The early summer months of May and June are the best months to raft this exceptional wilderness river, taking full advantage of warm temperatures and early season runoff. With enormous ponderosa pines growing in stark contrast to the desert landscape of red and orange sandstone cliffs, the Dolores cuts through five major life zones, from the alpine flora and fauna at its headwaters to Upper Sonoran desert terrain along much of its lower reaches. Dolores River trips usually assemble at Cortez ,Colorado, a small town about 30 miles south of the Dolores put-in as well as the gateway to Mesa Verde National Park. Several multiday options allow you to combine scenic sections like Ponderosa Gorge and Slickrock Canyon, or you can go the whole hog and tackle these plus the Dolores’ toughest stretch of rapids through Gateway Canyon. In terms of scenery and Pueblo Indian culture, this river trip is almost the equal of the iconic Grand Canyon of the Colorado experience—without the waiting times and higher prices.

Published: 18 May 2011 | Last Updated: 25 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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