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Class I River Float: Ruby Horsethief-Colorado River Trip


Overnight Night River Rafting Trip 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this new experience.

I grew up spending summers on the Long Island Sound and have always been drawn to water. Even though I’ve lived in Colorado now for twenty years, I have little experience on rivers (and lakes) and have always thought they were pretty much second to the vastness of the incredible ocean. Two nights and three days on a river….I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this new experience we were about to embark on and we had our new puppy, Ozzy in tow. I was looking forward to this new adventure and giving this river lifestyle an opportunity to win me over.

“Sure!” I responded, when my husband first asked me if I was interested in floating a section of the Colorado River, but that’s my customary answer to every and all of the adventures he plans for our family. All I knew is that we seemed to be spending a lot of money getting prepared for this trip. Sun shirts, large brimmed sun hats, Baggies for our two girls, a puppy life jacket, and three pairs of “river” shoes (our standard flip flops were banned from joining) that would stay on our feet getting in and out of the boat. Our friend, who was bringing his two girls, organized our boat rental from Rim Rock Adventures out of Fruita, Colorado. I have come to learn that traveling with another family is key. Both the kids and parents are happier and kid behavior is also a bit better, which is a bonus. Our friend rented two boats, one for each family, and he was connected to this wonderful woman named Sharon, who did all of the food shopping, meal organization for us and provided us with a mobile kitchen. This was such a treat! Not having to grocery shop, create and organize meals, and pack it in coolers was a dream.

Friends on the river summer 2020

We usually roadtrip with our pop up camper and have our detailed camper checklist dialed in (except for sometimes forgetting our pillows), but this was different. It felt like it took us days to get organized and packed. We would be away from the safety of our usual pop up habitat and I didn’t want to forget anything.

On day one, my husband emphasized multiple times throughout the day the importance of having everything from water bottles to sunscreen needing to be attached to the boat at all times. We had a dozen carabiners and straps holding down all of our supplies, even the toilet known as the groover. It was Class I rapids and it didn’t seem like we were in any danger of flipping the raft or these items being tossed out of the boat in the barely existent ripples of this section of the Colorado River. I’m sure this is the rule of the river and it was particularly windy that first day. I am usually a rule follower, but felt like I could relax on this one somewhat the following two days. I even took off my river shoes that last day and left them loose at the bottom of the boat. So daring!

When asked about their best memories from the trip, our girls quickly responded with the following list: playing the card game Sleeping Queens with their buddies at our campsite stops, floating on the inner tubes attached to the boat, jumping back and forth between our two boats along the float, the sandcastle contest they had when we stopped for lunch one day along the river, guessing the flavor of gummy bears they gave each other, and seeing Ozzy jump off the boat and swim. They also mentioned cleaning the dishes after our meals. All of the girls worked as a team to get the dishes clean and they actually liked it. Amazing!!

We (mostly my husband- I only took the oars twice and our girls assisted sporadically) paddled twenty five miles from Fruita, Colorado to Westwater, Utah. That stretch of Colorado River or actually any stretch of the river was unfamiliar to me. The beautiful red rock canyons with the smooth huecos almost looked unreal. The blue herons, the swallows and their wasp like nests were present every day and we even spotted a bald eagle.

With more than 85 bug bites between me and my girls (my husband somehow escaped these pests), the lugging of the tents, coolers of food, dry gear bins, the Camp Chef grill on and off the boat at our campsites, and the odor of the medium sized groover strapped to our boat, if you asked me if I would be interested in a trip like this again, my response would be, “In a heartbeat…” Without a doubt, the river did in fact win me over.

Notes to self – do not wear or bring any white clothing, put bug spray on while on the raft before docking at a campsite and toilet paper is not included with the groover rental.