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Ruby – Horsethief Canyons of the Colorado River

Canyons of the Black Ridge Wilderness | Average CFS: 3,390
Sunday – Tuesday, August 13-15, 2023

After having a great season on the rivers this spring, I realized that I had not been on a float trip through Ruby – Horsethief since 2016 and was long overdue for a return, so Jackson and I planned a late summer trip down this local stretch of the Colorado River for late August and were able to secure camping permits for two nights. Besides inviting a couple of close friends along, Diane was also going to be joining us on this trip with her Stand-Up Paddleboard, and she was looking forward to getting back on the river when the water was not super high, since neither of us had much fun that day! We all met up at the Loma Boat Ramp on Sunday morning and got the boats rigged while the shuttle was run and then were on the river around 10:30am. It was pretty warm out already and was going to end up being a pretty hot trip!

Here we are at the Loma Boat Ramp getting the boats ready to go. Lucky for us the ramp was not very busy this morning, which seems to be uncommon these days…

Loma Boat Ramp

Once we were on the water it was a slow and relaxing float to our first campsite near the mouth of Mee Canyon.

On the Colorado River



Chris & Amy

Chris & Amy

Amy floating below a large sandstone wall in Horsethief Canyon.

Sandstone Wall

Holey Wall

Holey Wall


Horsethief Canyon

Three inflatable kayaks in Horsethief Canyon.

Three IK's

With the warm temperatures out, we spent plenty of time swimming alongside our boats during the day and practicing getting back in them, which is a good skill to practice for rougher waters.

Floating Downstream



Bob & Lisa finding a little shade under a small overhang.

Bob & Lisa



After a couple hours we found ourselves in Ruby Canyon.

Ruby Canyon

After rounding Mee Corner we saw the mouth of Mee Canyon straight ahead and kept a lookout for our campsite on the left.

Mee Canyon View

All our boats at Mee Canyon 4.

Six Boats

The name of the game at camp was to try staying cool, which was pretty difficult with limited shade and hot sand. We ended up floating in our PFD’s from Mee 3 and Mee 2 back to our campsite a couple times to cool off in the river.

Once the sun dipped behind the cliffs it finally started to cool off and the late evening light got nice.

Ruby Canyon Evening

Here’s our tent at Mee 4, which we waited to set up until the site was in the shade.

Mee 4

There was a nice view behind camp at sunset.

Behind Camp

Mee Canyon Sunset

Mee Canyon Sunset

Diane and I were pretty tired from the hot day and tried getting to bed early, but the sand under our tent was so warm that it was a bit uncomfortable and it took me a while to fall asleep. I ended up not using my sleeping bag for most of the night.

On Monday morning we all got up before sunrise so we could go on a hike into lower Mee Canyon before it really started to warm up.

Ruby Canyon Morning

Ruby Canyon Morning

Following the well-used trail into Mee Canyon.

Mee Canyon Trail

Canyon Cove

Canyon Cove

Most of our hike up the canyon was in the shadows, but the warm sunlight wasn’t far behind…

Above the Shadows

Our turnaround point was at Jagged Monolith Arch.

Jagged Monolith Arch

Some of us continued up the canyon just a little further to see what it looked like from the other side.

Lower Mee Canyon

The first side we saw looked a little better to me.

The Other Side

Mee Canyon Spires

Mee Canyon Spires

Our hike back down the canyon was mostly in the sunlight. It was warming up quickly!

Mee Canyon Wash

Hiking Out

Lower Mee Canyon

Lower Mee Canyon View

Mee Canyon Tower

Mee Canyon Tower

Following the trail back to our campsite.

Leaving Mee Canyon

We took our time taking down camp and loading the boats since we only had to go about three miles to our next campsite and were in no hurry.

Back on the Water

It wasn’t very long until we were floating through the Black Rocks.

Black Rocks

Once we made it to Black Rocks 6 we spent the afternoon trying to stay cool in the little shade we could make and by floating and sitting in the river.

Trying to Keep Cool

Later in the evening when it finally started to cool off slightly, there was some kite flying in camp and then a game of Kubb just before sunset.

Lift Off

Kite Flying

High Flying Kite

Of course, I took a few photos shortly before sunset…

Black Rocks View

Black Rocks Evening

I stayed up a little later this evening hoping to see at least one meteor from the Perseid Meteor Shower, and I’m glad that I did because once it got dark out I saw one amazingly bright meteor streak across the sky, which was good enough for me, and then I headed to bed. As I was getting into my tent I also saw a line of Starlink Satellites march across the sky. Again, the sand under our tent was warm and I didn’t end up using my sleeping bag most of the night.

We were up before sunrise on Tuesday to enjoy the cooler temperatures while we ate breakfast on the beach and watched a couple of muskrats play in the water. We packed up our boats and were on the river by 8:30am so we could make it to Westwater before noon. Diane and I were driving up to Wyoming right after this trip and didn’t want to get too late of a start.

There was some great color in the sky this morning.

Moore Bottom Morning

Morning Color at Camp

I liked the reflection on the water in this photo.

Morning Boats

River Reflection

River Reflection

Getting back on the flat water.

Downstream Morning

Three Boats in Black Rocks

Three Boats in Black Rocks

Black & Red Rocks

Black & Red Rocks

Striped Rocks

Striped Rocks

This morning there was a bunch of boat swapping going on and Diane got a little rowing lesson on the big raft from Bob.

Rowing LessonRowing

Diane Rowing

Jackson wanted to try out Diane's paddleboard.

Jackson on the Paddleboard

He actually stood up on it for a while and seemed to be having fun.


Now Jackson is rowing the raft and Diane is pointing out a Bald Eagle above.


Here's Lisa paddling Jackson's boat. If you look closely above her at the top left of the photo, you can see the Bald Eagle that Diane was pointing to in the previous photo.


Nearing the end of the float as we approached the ramp at Westwater.

Nearing the End

Luckily, we had a ramp to ourselves at Westwater and were able to pack up our gear quickly and get going. Diane and I said goodbye to the rest of the group and headed back home to shower, change, grab our hiking gear and then started heading north on our trip to Wyoming. Although it was a hot trip, we managed to stay as cool as best as we could and still had a great time!

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  1. Amy Taylor
    Amy Taylor August 28, 2023

    Thank you Randy!

  2. SteveR
    SteveR August 30, 2023

    Hard to beat a relaxed river trip when it’s hot out!

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