A Guide to Floating Ruby Horsethief Canyon


The hardest part of the whole trip is organizing all of the food and gear, but once you’re off, you’re off.  Ahead, 25 miles of desert views and canyon walls.

Crack open a drink and enjoy the views. For two days you’ll switch between paddling, letting the current guide you, and navigating shallow water and tiny rapids. You’ll get creative with your buddies and tie everyone together, so no one floats away. You’ll figure out the most efficient way to get your cooler full of drinks to float along between all of you. You’ll pull over to inspect the views and eat some lunch.

There’s nothing to be done, except what you want to do.


Dinner doesn’t have to be simple, if you brought a raft with a camp stove.

Thunder echoes off canyon walls, and lightening gives you a brief glimpse into the wild place you’re somewhere in the middle of. If you’re me, you sit and wait it out, feeling helpless in your tiny exposed tent. If you’re Andrew, you drink a beer and watch the show.


The morning brings clear skies. The sun hits the canyon walls that begin to glow. You take it all in from your tent. After breakfast, the gear tetris of packing starts again, and then you’re off. You don’t get far before the volcanic rock tempts you to explore it.


Everyone jumps, so you do too. The water is cold and you come out with a layer of desert mud in your hair, ears and across your body. By the end of the trip, everything you brought is covered in a layer of the sticky red mud.


As you continue to float, you reach the Utah border. (You know this because you brought a map.) At the same time, you look up to see bald eagles nesting high on the canyon wall above you.

Towards the end of the 25 miles, the canyon walls begin to disappear, and otters and wild turkeys play on the river banks beside you.

The skies begin to build with clouds—a possible afternoon thunderstorm prowls. You want to paddle a little more than you did the day before, but no one else seems to mind the impending storm. The water moves slow on this section of the river, and so do you.


Just like the end of every trip to the desert, you’ll long to stay, but look forward to going. You’ll miss the wild open spaces, no service, no agenda. But, you’re skin is red from the hot desert sun and you’re ready to wash off the dirt that has made its home across your body.

“Let’s do it again,” everyone says as they part ways. It’s easier to go, when you agree to come back.



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