BLM Colorado is introducing a new camping permit system in the Ruby-Horsethief area of the Colorado River, between Loma, Colorado and Westwater, Utah. Between May 1 and September 30, you’ll only be able to camp in one of 35 set sites—four more than in 2011–and you’ll need to reserve a spot by acquiring a permit before you launch your boat-toad.
The Ruby-Horsethief area falls under the auspices of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. The new permit system has come into place because of significant increases in visitor numbers—20,000 individual camping groups used the area in 2010, with more than 9,500 visitors overall. In 2012, the camping will be free, but in 2013, there will likely be a fee, based on group size. Interesting to note is that you may bring up to two dogs per campsite, but your tail-wagging friend counts towards group size. (Story continues below.)
Pick up your Friday-Saturday permits from Grand Junction Field Office at 2815 H Road; you can order them by phone or in person Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. You can reserve these weekend sites 60 days before the weekend you need. Permits for Sunday through Thursday would be by iron ranger at the Loma boat launch. A more convenient online permitting system may be introduced in future.
You also need a permit to use the Ruby-Horsethief area during the daytime. They are unlimited and free. If you want a fire, bring your own fire pan and firewood; collecting wood is not allowed. You must also bring a portable toilet (“human waste containment system”) which should also be used for dog waste. As always—pack it in, pack it out.
Boondockers interested in leaving their rig for a day or two and messing about on the Colorado River can find out availability of sites by visiting the BLM website or calling 970-244-3000. Elsewhere in McInnis Canyons NCA, in Rabbit Valley, there is both designated dispersed camping and three campgrounds.
Castle Rock and Knowles Overlook Campgrounds are “not recommended” for RVs, but there is at least one RV-friendly campground; ask at the BLM office for details specific to your size and type of rig. Standard dispersed camping is allowed in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, but access is through hiking and boating only.
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