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Home to monumental land forms, world renowned paleontological resources and the Colorado River, the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is a wonderland of sandstone canyons, natural arches, and hidden alcoves. The Ruby-Horsethief section of the Colorado River from Loma, Colorado to Westwater, Utah is a 25-mile stretch of mostly flat-water with sections of Class I and II rapids. This part of the Colorado flows through beautiful red rock canyons and has many day hike opportunities offering both solitude and exploration. You probably won’t be able to pick up a cell phone signal, but you will see an abundance of wildlife in the area including otters, desert bighorn sheep and bald eagles – making this the perfect section to unplug from everyday life and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the river.


Bring your camping gear as some of the best camping on the Colorado River can be found in this section with an abundance of shady cottonwood trees and white sand beaches. If you plan to camp you will need to secure a permit 60 days in advance by visiting recreation.gov. Group size is limited to 25, including dogs. Don’t make the rookie mistake of showing up without a permit or you won’t be able to go on an overnight trip. Rafters often bring their dogs on this stretch, which can add to the fun but be sure and have a life preserver for your canine friend and note that there is a two-dog limit. A permit is not required for day use in Ruby-Horsethief.


With the unique sandstone spires and alcoves of Knowles and Mee canyons and the second highest concentration of natural arches in the world in Rattlesnake Canyon, this section along the Colorado River has excellent hiking opportunities.

We suggest stopping on the Mee Canyon Bench, at mile 13 from the Loma boat launch for a hike into Mee Canyon proper to explore a wild canyon with huge sandstone walls, abundant desert wildlife and plants, pools to splash in, as well as a well-defined hiking trail. Hike as far as you like and enjoy this family friendly hike, or backpack up to one of the largest alcoves on the Colorado Plateau. There’s plenty of adventure to be had in Mee Canyon.


Ruby-Horsethief is a great place for beginner boaters and families, however, be aware of spring run-off for when the river flow rises above 5,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) it can be a bit more difficult for the inexperienced boater. While enjoying the natural beauty and the beautiful desert flora and fauna be sure and practice “leave no trace” principles by packing everything (and we mean everything!) in and out during your trip!

For everything you need to know about visiting the national conservation area visit www.recreation.gov or www.coloradocanyonsassociation.org.