The Colorado River, with its meandering path through the breathtaking landscapes of the American West, is not only a lifeline for nature but also a treasure trove of hidden spots waiting to be discovered. While many travelers flock to well-known attractions along its banks, there are numerous hidden spots, canyons, trails, and rock formations just off the beaten path. Join us on a journey as we unveil some of the hidden gems along the Colorado River and explore the lesser-known wonders of this iconic waterway.
1. Radium Hot Springs – Colorado and Utah Border:
Nestled along the Colorado River at the border of Colorado and Utah lies a hidden oasis known as Radium Hot Springs. Accessible only by a rugged dirt road, this natural hot spring offers a serene escape. The warm waters blend seamlessly with the river, creating a soothing experience surrounded by pristine wilderness. Relax in the pools and soak in the stunning views of the rugged terrain.
2. Pumphouse Recreation Area – Near Kremmling, Colorado:
Located near the town of Kremmling, the Pumphouse Recreation Area is a lesser-known spot along the Colorado River. It’s an ideal area for water enthusiasts looking to embark on a river adventure. You can rent kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards and float down the river, taking in the beauty of the surrounding canyons and forests. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and enjoy a riverside lunch. In the warmer months, you can also enjoy this area with a guided scenic float trip, offering chances to swim, jump, and spot wildlife along the banks!
Did you know that Colorado boasts its very own volcano? Dotsero Crater, often referred to as Dotsero Cone, is a volcanic cone that rises dramatically from the banks of the Colorado River, near its intersection with Eagle River. It last erupted 4200 years ago and is Colorado’s youngest volcano. While it’s not possible to hike to the top of the cone, you can explore the area around it at the Dosero Crater Recreation site. A high-clearance vehicle is necessary to navigate the access point.
4.Saddlehorn Campground – Colorado National Monument, Colorado:
Tucked away within the Colorado National Monument, the Saddlehorn Campground offers a unique camping experience along the banks of the Colorado River. This hidden gem is a tranquil escape, allowing you to camp beneath the starry night sky while listening to the gentle flow of the river. It’s an ideal spot for stargazing, birdwatching, and hiking through the monument’s striking red rock formations. Plus, it’s just a short drive from the town of Grand Junction, making it a convenient yet serene retreat along the Colorado River.
5. Ruby Canyon – Near Loma, Colorado:
The Ruby Horsethief section of the river is an ideal area for a serene float trip or kayak adventure, where you can admire the colorful rock formations and the river’s gentle flow. Carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, the canyon walls alongside the Colorado River create a striking red-rock wonderland and a natural marvel. A wide variety of wildlife are also home to this area, including bald eagles, peregrine falcons, herons, and bighorn sheep.
6. Fisher Towers – Near Moab, Utah:
While Fisher Towers may be well-known among hikers, it remains a hidden treasure for many others. These towering sandstone formations rise dramatically from the Colorado River’s edge, creating a breathtaking backdrop. A scenic drive along Utah Highway 128 offers stunning views, and a hike to the base of the towers reveals their grandeur up close.
7. Parriott Mesa – Near Moab, Utah:
Parriott Mesa is another hidden spot worth exploring near Moab, Utah. This massive sandstone mesa rises abruptly from the riverbanks, providing a unique opportunity for rock climbing and hiking. The views from the top are simply spectacular, offering a panoramic vista of the Colorado River winding through the desert landscape.
8. Cisco Landing – Near Cisco, Utah:
Cisco Landing, located near the ghost town of Cisco, Utah, is a serene spot to relax by the river and take in the peaceful surroundings. It’s a perfect place for a picnic, fishing, or simply unwinding while watching the river flow. The site’s historical significance adds an extra layer of intrigue to your visit.
9. Moab Rock Art Sites – Moab, Utah:
Moab is renowned for its outdoor adventures, but it’s also home to hidden rock art sites that reveal the area’s rich history. These ancient petroglyphs and pictographs are tucked away in the canyons near the Colorado River. A guided tour or some adventurous exploring will lead you to these remarkable archaeological treasures.
10. Hittle Bottom – Near Moab, Utah:
Hittle Bottom is a lesser-known river campsite located near Moab, Utah. It’s a peaceful spot to camp, picnic, or simply enjoy the serene beauty of the Colorado River. The surrounding cliffs and red rock formations provide a stunning backdrop for your riverside escape.
The Colorado River, with its hidden spots and lesser-known wonders, carves its way 1450 miles, creating numerous cracks, crevices, and canyons ripe for exploration. Whether you want to explore the natural hot springs, delve into ancient rock art, or simply savor the river’s beauty, these hidden gems offer a chance to connect with the river and create unforgettable memories along the way.