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The Colorado River: Cisco Landing to Hittle Bottom

Average CFS Above the Dolores River: 26,278  //  Below the Dolores River: 32,500
Sunday, May 14, 2023

After spending five days on the Yampa River last week and then yesterday morning hiking in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison it was time for Jackson and I to get back out on the river again for a short day trip. Today we planned to float a section of the Colorado River that we had not been on before, starting from Cisco Landing and taking out at Hittle Bottom. With the water level around 30,000 CFS we knew the river was going to be high and fast, and figured that we would make it through this section of the river pretty quickly. We were right since we ended up floating all 23 miles in just about four hours and made it home by the early afternoon!

It was a beautiful morning at Hittle Bottom when we stopped to drop off Jackson’s car.

Hittle Bottom Morning

Here’s my inflatable kayak ready to go at the Cisco Landing Boat Ramp just before we got onto the water.

Cisco Landing

Although the sun had been out when we were at Hittle Bottom, by the time we made it to Cisco Landing and got on the river, clouds had blanketed the sky.

Cloudy Morning on the River

A cloudy morning on the Colorado River as we floated through the Cisco Desert.

Colorado River View

The water was flat and fast, and at this level there were a few spots with interesting hydraulics, including strong eddy lines and boils, that we had to keep an eye out for along the way.


Unfortunately, the biggest issue we had on this trip had nothing to do with the river or water. After passing by Fish Ford we started hearing gunshots in the distance, which isn’t very uncommon around here so we didn’t think much about it at first. However, we really started to get concerned when we heard the gunshots and then started seeing splashes from the bullets hitting the water downstream from us! Someone was shooting into and across the river up ahead of us, and we could not see them yet, and they certainly couldn’t see us coming yet! Between each round of gunshots I started yelling “STOP SHOOTING ACROSS THE RIVER!” and hoped they would hear me through their ear protection. Thankfully, I think they eventually heard me and stopped shooting, just before we were finally able to see them and they were able to see us. Of course, once we passed downstream of them the shooting commenced again…

As we continued down the swollen river the clouds got a bit darker and it looked like it could actually start raining soon.

Wide & Fast River

Darker Clouds

Floating the Colorado River

Into The Storm

I believe Jackson was reading about the unnamed faults that we were passing through on this section of the river as rain in the distance seemed to get nearer.

Eye on the Guide

It actually started to rain when we reached the confluence with the Dolores River, and we luckily managed to get our rain jackets on just in time. It would pretty much continue to rain until we reached the Dewey Bridge Recreation Site.

Passing below Roberts Mesa just past the mouth of the Dolores River where an additional 6,000 CFS was added to the Colorado River.

Below Roberts Mesa

Floating underneath the remains of the historic Dewey Bridge.

Underneath the Dewey Bridge

Jackson stopped to sit on this submerged bench while I made a quick stop at the Dewey Bridge Recreation Site.

Waiting on the Bench

After leaving Dewey Bridge the river enters a much larger and scenic canyon and the sun actually started to come out a little bit.

Into the Canyon

These old ladders attached to the canyon wall were most likely left behind by the engineers that were studying this location as a possible dam site.

Dewey Dam Site Ladders

Although I’ve driven through this canyon countless times, it was nice to see it from a different perspective and at a slower speed.

Colorado Canyon View

Jackson on The Colorado

Jackson on The Colorado

As we neared the end of our journey the Fisher Towers and La Sal Mountains came into view.

Fisher Towers View

Here’s one last photo from Hittle Bottom looking across the river to a point on Dome Plateau.

Hittle Bottom View

After loading up our gear we returned to Cisco Landing for my Jeep and then headed back home. It ended up being a nice easy day on the river!

>> Cisco Landing to Hittle Bottom Photo Gallery


  1. Dan
    Dan May 23, 2023

    Wow. Glad you guys ended up OK – I too am used to hearing the gunshots around, but haven’t ever run into this type of situation.

    Your last couple of posts have me contemplating a new mode of transportation – floating. I know you’ve posted stories of it before, but having just been out in SE Oregon where the Bruneau River is at record highs and seeing how fun it looked, well… dang it, it looks fun.

    …not that I need to have any more adventure toys. The ones I have are expensive enough and have enough maintenance already.

    Great story as always!

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat May 23, 2023

      Thanks Dan, it was certainly a bit nerve-racking coming up on people shooting across the river. Not something I’d care to repeat.

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