Dolores River
Guide

Introduction

The Dolores River is a two-hundred-mile long waterway managed by the BLM. The river runs a meandering course from its source in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado across the state's border with Utah to the town of Dewey Bridge where it joins the Colorado River. The Utah section of the Dolores River winds through an incredibly scenic region and is surrounded by mountains and forests. The Arches National Park lies to the west, the Manti-La Sal National Forest is located to the south-east and the Canyonlands National Park to the south. It's an area of outstanding natural beauty perfect for an RV camping adventure.

The length of the Dolores River that snakes its way through Utah passes through stunning, steep-sided canyons. The river has challenging rapids that are a huge magnet for canoeists, kayakers and whitewater rafters. There are hiking trails running through the surrounding countryside from which the views will literally take your breath away.

For off-road adrenaline seekers, there's a fantastic sky-high route along the canyon tops near Dewey Bridge that will test even the most courageous of four or two wheel drivers. Wildlife spotters and photographers heading to this section of the Dolores River will find they're not short of subjects to focus their binocular or camera lenses on. In nearby Moab, there are some interesting museums that anyone interested in film, the history of the area, geology or dinosaurs won't want to miss visiting.

There are three BLM campgrounds ideal for RV camping near the Utah section of the Dolores River. All three are situated close to Dewey Bridge and around a forty-five-minute drive from Moab. Two are right alongside the Colorado River and the other a fifteen-minute drive into the mountains from Dewey Bridge.

RV Rentals in Dolores River

Transportation

Driving

The Dewey Bridge section of the Dolores River can only be reached along one highway, the UT 128. The Ut 128 southbound to Dewey Bridge can be joined near Cisco from the I 70 if you're motoring in from the north or the west. if you're traveling up from the south of Utah you can join the UT 128 just north of Moab. The UT 128 may be a twisting mountain road more suited to smaller rigs than large ones, but it's also part of two scenic byways - the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway and the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway - so be prepared to be blown away by the amazing views.

If you're motoring up to Dewey Bridge from the south of Utah after RV camping in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, you'll have a choice of two routes. Hit the I 70 in Bullfrog and you'll be on the road for about three hours. Take the UT 276 and it'll take you a total of four and a half hours. If you're driving in from Colorado after being pitched up at the White River National Forest, once you hit the I 70 at Glenwood Springs you'll have around two and a half hours to go. It's a route that will take you along the borders of both the Grand Mesa National Forest and the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area so there's lots to look at on the way.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Dolores River

Campsites in Dolores River

First-come first-served

Dewey Bridge

There are three BLM campgrounds around Dewey Bridge which are ideal for pitching up in an RV. They're all different sizes and have different attributes so it's a case of choosing which one is the most suitable for you and what you want to do while you're RV camping by the Dolores River.

The Dewey Bridge Campground is located right next to the Colorado River. All campsites at the campground are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis though there are two group campsites that can be reserved through the recreation.gov website. The campground is suitable for small RVs only. There are no utility hook-ups on the campground or on-site amenities, including water, so make sure you pack enough for your stay. There are just seven pitches for RVs at the Dewey Campground which are distributed around a small dirt and gravel-surfaced field. The campsites are furnished with sheltered picnic tables, fire rings, and grills. While there's no boat ramp at the Dewey Bridge Campground, it is possible to access the river from there.

The Hittle Bottom Campground is around seven miles downstream from Dewey Bridge along the Colorado River. The campground can accommodate larger rigs and is favored by OHVers and whitewater rafters. The campground has fifteen campsites, all of which are primitive but are located under red cliffs in a very scenic area. There are no utility hook-ups or on-site amenities.

The Cowskin Campground is a small primitive campground in an outback setting three miles from Dewey Bridge along the BLM 105. There are just five pitches for RVs on the dirt surfaced field of the campground. It's a real get-away-from-it-all campground with stunning scenery all around but no hook-ups and no on-site amenities.

Seasonal activities in Dolores River

In-Season

Hiking

Many of the trails around the Dolores River are multi-use dirt tracks. Most are classed as moderate to difficult because of the elevation rises so you'll need plenty of stamina to tackle them.

From Dewey Bridge you can join an eighteen and a half mile long part of the Kokopelli Trail which runs through the mountains to Cottonwood Canyon. If you're trekking here with your pet, it's best to keep them leashed as there can be a lot of OHVs passing by.

Kayaking & Rafting

The Dolores River provides canoeists and kayakers some exciting whitewater challenges. Most of the river's rapids are classed as difficult, so are not for the inexperienced.

The biggest challenge is found in the mile-long Stateline Rapids near to the border of Utah and Colorado. It's a dangerous stretch that tests even the best and most skilled paddlers. Anyone wanting to float the river must apply for a permit from the BLM offices in Moab before going out on the water.

Off-Roading

The area around the Utah section of the Dolores River is covered with numerous dirt roadways perfect for off-roading. One of the most popular trails is the Top Of The World Safari Route which has its trailhead in the Dewey Bridge Campground. The twenty miles of dirt road climb along mountainside ledges with sheer drops right to the edge of the Waring Mesa from where there are incredible views of the area.

The Dome Plateau Trail is another popular four by four trail which runs alongside the Colorado River along the Colorado River Canyon to the La Boca Arch.

Fishing

The swift-flowing waters of the Dolores River are the ideal habitat for trout and fly fishermen have the chance to hook up some rainbow or brown if their skill is up to scratch. For slower flowing waters, try the Colorado River. There's plenty of trout in there too as well as bass, walleye, crappie, and kokanee salmon. Sport anglers will enjoy lure fishing there for northern pike.

Museum of Moab

The Museum of Moab has a fascinating selection of exhibitions covering several very varied topics. If you enjoy finding out more about the geology, paleontology and archaeology of the area or want to discover in-depth information on the pioneers and miners, this is the place to visit. The museum houses more than ten thousand artefacts including a dinosaur skeleton and miner's clothing and equipment. There are also extensive exhibitions relating to the Mormon pioneers.

Moab Museum Of Film & Western Heritage

If you're a big fan of Wild West movies you'll want to stop off at the Moab Museum of Film and Western heritage for a look around. The museum is located on the Red Cliffs Ranch which has been the star film location for many John Ford westerns. The museum is crammed full of memorabilia including posters, photographs and information on the stars who played the major roles.

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