Below Gypsum Valley the river plunges into and divides a massive sheer rock wall over 1000 feet tall. The next 30 miles we are in the 29,000 acre Dolores River Canyon Wilderness Study Area. The river twists and turns through sandstone walls that reach skyward directly from the water's edge. "Entrenched meanders" were created as the plateau tilted on edge, speeding the flow of the once sleepy river. In places these cliffs overhang the entire river.
You'll camp on river beaches or sandy alluvial fans where the river passes a number of beautiful side canyons. We will explore several of these interesting serpentine grottos. Deer and Bighorn Sheep are regularly spotted. We'll also make several stops to admire Indian petroglyphs, carved into the sheer sandstone walls.
Our trip ends at an old west survivor, the Bedrock Store, where a scene from "Thelma and Louise" was filmed.
Day 1 – The 3–Day Slickrock Canyon trip is not to be missed. This canyon is also named Little Glen Canyon, as it features some of the same rock layers as Glen Canyon of the Colorado River-now buried under Lake Powell. Although Class III rapids pepper this run, Slickrock’s allure is in its majestic beauty, a kaleidoscope of red, orange and white sandstone cliffs nearly 1200 ft. high.
As you pass through this exceptional wilderness, it’s not hard to imagine why the Anasazi Indian culture chose this location in which to live. In fact, we actually stop and take a look at some pictographs and petroglyphs of the Anasazi – evidence of a culture that lived here centuries before.
Once we arrive at our riverside campsite near Bull Canyon, we unload all the rafts and have an opportunity to change into camp clothes and set up tents. Guides will be on-hand to assist with setting up your camp. After a brief camp orientation where you’ll become acquainted with the “Groover”, our solid waste toilet system and the camp routine, you will be free to take out your fishing pole, enjoy a refreshing swim, or hike. By the time you are back to camp, the Guides have put on their chef’s hats and have a hot dinner ready for you. Some of the dinner entrees we offer are: Grilled Chicken, Steak and Salmon, Stir-Fry, Lasagna, and Enchiladas, followed up with a Dutch-oven cake. This is not pork-and-beans camping! After dinner you can relax with a cup of cocoa or tea under a blanket of stars playing cards, telling ghost stories, and re-living your adventures from the river.
Day 2 – In the morning, you’ll wake up to the aroma of freshly brewed “Cowboy” coffee delivered to the door of your tent. When you get up, you’ll see that camp is nearly in full swing and an array of fresh fruit, juice and other goodies available for you to nibble on. The smell of bacon in the air tells you breakfast is nearly ready. Our breakfast entrees may include blueberry pancakes, French toast, or Veggie eggs. After you eat, it’s time to pack up your tent and overnight bags and re-load the rafts for the day’s river adventure.
As you raft through the heart of the Colorado Plateau, a cold, high desert environment, you will notice pinion pine and juniper scattered around sage and several varieties of cactus. In the riparian zones along the river, Box Elder and Cottonwood trees provide some welcome shade in the afternoon. Our camp tonight is near Coyote Wash, which is an excellent evening hike.
Day 3 – On the third day, we pass through Muleshoe bend – a meander where the river nearly meets itself and then tackle Corner rapid. After conquering these fun rapids, the river flattens out providing excellent opportunities to swim or jump in the “ducky” for those who would not be comfortable in rapids.
We will arrive at the Bedrock Store in mid-afternoon where we will unload the rafts, change out of your river clothes, and head back to Cortez. Once back to Cortez, It’s time to unpack your bags and say good-bye to new found friends and reflect on this rapid-filled wilderness canyon trip. You may also choose to remember your trip with a T-shirt, hat or pair of shorts. There is no better way to spend 3 days!
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USA Colorado Outdoor: Water Drifter Canoeing/Kayaking/Rafting
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