The Dolores River is one of Colorado’s most colorful and sublime rivers. Its headwaters begin at approximately 14,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains near Lizard Head Pass. It flows south past the towns of Rico and Dolores, and makes a horseshoe turn at McPhee Reservoir, which was completed in 1987 to divert water for municipal and agricultural uses. Below the reservoir, the river again flows north past the communities of Dove Creek and Gateway. A full 230 miles from its headwaters, it joins the Colorado River in Utah’s red rock desert near Moab.
Much of the river flows through the heart of more than 250,000 acres of wilderness study areas–public lands that are part of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Conservation Lands. The Dolores River Canyon, Sewemup and The Palisade Wilderness Study Areas are among them. Residents in this part of Southwest Colorado are working to ask Congress to protect the Lower Dolores River (the reaches downstream of McPhee Reservoir) as a National Conservation Area and Wilderness. The Dolores River below the reservoir offers one of the country’s longest wilderness river floats—170 miles through unspoiled canyons and forest habitat. It is rich in archaeological resources and unique plant and wildlife habitat.
VIDEO: River of Sorrow: Inheriting the Dolores from Dolores River Boating Advocates and Rig To Flip Productions
MAPS, VIDEO AND STORIES
“The River Trip” is a monthly radio show produced and hosted by the Dolores River Boating Advocates on public radio station KSJD, 91.5 fm. They talk river issues, tell river stories, play music and celebrate all those who love to float and fish its whitewater.
The Hanging Flume, “The Best Kept Secret of the Wild West.” Intrigued? Click here to learn more.