Welcome to the Westwater Canyon section of the Colorado River, one of the premier whitewater trips in the west. This 17 mile stretch of river includes 11 named rapids that range in difficulty from class I to class IV. The canyon may be run as a long day trip or as a one night/ two day float. There are designated campsites available within the deep canyon that will be assigned by the ranger prior to launch. This section of river is challenging at all water levels and is only recommended for experienced boaters.
The put-in for Westwater Canyon is located about 70 miles northeast of Moab, Utah and is 35 miles west of Grand Junction, Colorado. At the put-in there is a ranger station and campground with 11 first come first served individual camp sites and one reservable group site. This put-in is also the take-out for the Ruby-Horsethief section of the Colorado River and can be very congested. The access road to the put in is paved from exit 227 to the Weswater Ranger Station and boat ramp. The closest services are in Mack, Colorado and Thompson Springs, Utah both of which are located along I-70.
To reach the take-out use exit 214 from westbound I-70 and continue towards Cisco. Roll left through Cisco on the Cisco Pump House Road, over a cattle guard, then bear left at the next intersection, this road continues towards the Boat Launch. * Take the left fork to reach the take-out ramp and parking area. For eastbound I-70 traffic, use exit 204 and follow the signs to Cisco. Take a right at Cisco, then follow the signs to the Cisco take-out/boat ramp.
Due to heavy recreational demand and to protect the primitive and remote setting of Westwater Canyon, permits are required year-round for both private and commercial use.
For more information and up to date conditions, please call the Bureau of Land Management, Moab Field Office (435) 259-2100, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. MST.
For boaters looking to combine Westwater Canyon with Ruby Horsethief Canyon (upstream), please be aware that permits are also required for this stretch of river. Permits for Ruby Horsethief Canyon can be reserved here.
Permits are required year-round for all private and commercial use in Westwater Canyon. A permit for Westwater Canyon allows for the launch of one group, maximum of 25 people, for the date issued. Permit holders will have the option to choose between a day trip or an overnight trip. Only one night is allowed within the canyon, it must be the night of the authorized launch, and the campsites will be assigned by the ranger prior to launch.
Need to Know
Please be advised, Westwater Canyon is a challenging stretch of river at all water levels and is only recommended for experienced boaters. If you have any questions about Westwater Canyon, the difficulty of rapids or water levels please talk with the rangers at the put in or call the Moab Field Office at 435-259-2100.
Typically the river peaks around 20,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) in late May or early June. Water flows recede throughout the summer and typically reach flows around 3,000 (cfs) in the fall months. The character of the river changes with river flows. Some rapids are most difficult at higher flows, while other become more difficult at lower flows. Be aware that localized rain and thunderstorms can quickly change conditions in the canyon.
Overnight trips within the canyon are an option for all permit holders. A campsite will be assigned to overnight permit holders at the time of the permit compliance check-in at the put-in by rangers on duty.
Rules and Regulations:
Infants and Small Children:
If you answer no to any of the following questions, then Westwater Canyon may not be appropriate for your child’s safety.
Permit Fee: $10 per person, per trip.
Reservation Fee: There is a non-refundable $6.00 reservation fee for all permit reservations for Westwater Canyon.
Bureau of Land Management, Moab Field Office 82 East Dogwood Moab UT 84532
Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.