The Colorado River cuts through the Colorado Plateau to create many magnificant canyons, from its headwaters in La Poudre Pass on the continental divide, to its end 1,450 miles (2,334 km) later in the Gulf of California in Mexico. Geologists tell us that the thick, unbroken Colorado Plateau was uplifted 10,000 ft (3 km) over time during the Laramide orogeny 60-40 million years ago when the Rocky Mountains, and other US western-states geologic formations were created (see our Geologic Sites menu). Cycling banner photos, northeast to southwest, show a bit of the diversity, scenery, and geology in these awesome canyons.
This article attempts to explore the fourteen canyons inside Scenic Color Country between Dotsero, Colorado, and Needles, California, as the Colorado River cuts through the Colorado Plateau.
Glenwood Canyon is around 25 miles (40 km) long from near Dotsero to near New Castle, Colorado (some have the canyon shorter, cutting it off at Glenwood Springs, but it does run on toward New Castle).
I-70 in the canyon is one of the most expensive interstate highway segments ever built; an engneering marvel as huge precast sections were positioned along the canyon wall by a monster
De Beque Canyon is about 15 miles long between De Beque and Palisade, Colorado.
Horsethief, Ruby, and Westwater Canyons, end-to-end, are 42 miles (68 km) in length from the Loma, Colorado, launch to the Cisco, Utah, takeout, with a single mid-canyons launch at the Westwater Ranger station at the end of Ruby Canyon, 25 miles downstream from Loma. Westwater Canyon, 17 miles (42 km) long is famous for its class III & IV rafting. The rapids in Westwater Canyon are dramatically affected by the spring snowmelt.
Two unnamed canyons along Utah 128 (Scenic Byway 128, BLM's Colorado River Byway) parallel the Colorado between Dewey and Moab, Utah.
Seven canyons - Meander, Cataract, Glen, Marble, Grand, Boulder, and Black Canyons - are connected end-to-end for 800+ miles (1,287+ km) from Moab, Utah, to Needles, California, in Utah and Arizona, and along the Arizona/Nevada/California borders. Boulder Canyon was completely flooded as Lake Mead began filling in 1935-1936 - no map or photos are available. Prior to the opening of Grand Canyon Bridge (now known as Navajo Bridge) in 1929, there were no highway crossings for this 800+ miles other than the risky Lee's Ferry that operated occasionally.
The Photo Gallery contains 67 pictures of the Colorado River Canyons in Scenic Color Country, with a menu of 11 auto-shows of individual canyons and all of the photos of the canyons.
Maps includes a map of the Colorado River and maps of the canyons and campsites.
Laramide orogeny at Wikipedia tells the story of the mountain-building era in the western United States and along the west coast of North America including the building of the Rocky Mountains. It appears to be responsible for most, if not all, of the geology in the Geologic Sites menu.