Ruby-Horsethief is a fantastic flatwater desert river trip. The accessibility and lack of difficulty makes it the perfect trip for getting kids and beginners rowing, paddling, and having fun on the river. The river is lined with big, beautiful campsites and plentiful side hiking. Wildlife sighting opportunities are frequent, with bighorn sheep, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, river otters, mule deer, and great blue herons all calling Ruby-Horsethief home. The best way to do this river trip is to go slow and take advantage of all of the hiking.

The take-out for this section is also the put-in for Westwater Canyon. If you're planning on running Westwater, doing Ruby-Horsethief is a great way to extend your overnight trip into a 3 or 4 night trip. If you choose to do this, make sure you stop and check in with the ranger at the Westwater Boat Ramp!

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Loma Boat Ramp put-in

Mile 3.2: Rattlesnake Canyon. It's a 7 mile hike to the back of the canyon and well worth it. There are several dramatic arches along the side of the canyon.

An arch along Rattlesnake Canyon.

An arch along Rattlesnake Canyon. Photo courtesy of The Bureau of Land Management .

Mile 5.8: Cottonwoods Campsites. There are five huge, beautiful campsites on the bottom here. Lots of tall Cottonwood trees provide good shade on a hot summer day. A hike up the wash on the downstream side of the campsites leads to a large, expansive canyon system with plenty to explore. Make sure you bring water, as there is not much cover from the desert sun.

Mile 13: Mee Corner. This is first of several campsites that access Mee Canyon.

Mile 14: Mee Canyon. This massive canyon system offers plenty of exploring. It is a 6.5 mile hike to the Mee Canyon trailhead, which can be accessed by road.

Mile 16.3 - 17.1: Black Rocks Campsites. These nine camps are the most iconic on the section. The river winds its way through 1.7 billion year old Vishnu Schist, the same rock that appears in the Grand Canyon. There are large beach campsites and smaller, more intimate campsites nestled between the rocks, so make sure to choose one that is appropriate to your group size. These campsites are very popular, and for good reason. A short hike from the downriver side of the campsites provides access to Moore Canyon.

A trip gets ready to push off from camp at Blackrocks.

A trip gets ready to push off from camp at Blackrocks. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.

Mile 18.5: Knowles Canyon. Another huge canyon system that parallels Mee Canyon. A 5 mile hike leads to Hell's Hole, a dramatic desert waterfall cutting through the red rock cliffs. This canyon goes back a long way, you can make this as long of a hike as you like.

Mile 20.9: Welcome to Utah! You just crossed the Colorado/Utah border.

Mile 25.3: Westwater put-in. If you are continuing on to run Westwater canyon, be sure to stop and check in with the ranger before continuing downriver. This small boat ramp can be very crowded during high-use season, so please be respectful of other users.