Beginner Packrafting Western CO


Apr 18, 2022
I just bought my first packraft! I am already scouting out some trips in my area (Grand Valley + 2 hr driving radius). My biggest problems are that I'll be solo, so intensity ideally would be Class 2 max, and routes that I can manage to get back to my car (original start place), without a shuttle, are preferred. I realize trying to hike back to my car may be challenging, so if anyone has suggestions towards managing a shuttle with service would be great.

I am eyeing some routes in Canyonlands, but I'm also running into the issue of not having a shuttle to get me back to my start point. I could get a ride from friends for local stuff but organizing that in Moab is another story. I already have some routes in mind on the Ruby-Horsethief stretch of the CO River (put out in Fruita, take out in Knowles or Mee, backpack the canyon, raft to Mcdonald Creek, take out at Mcdonald Creek Canyon, hitch a ride back to Fruita).

I'm just trying to get ideas from others who have packrated around here! The packraft was a big investment getting good use out of it is a big priority.
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I've never packrafted, but I have rafted the Ruby-Horsethief stretch from Loma to Westwater. We did it in three days, stopping to hike some canyons. It was an epic trip in that someone started a fire and we came upon the remnants of a dozen or so tents melted to the ground and debris still smoking and a fire raging up a nearby canyon. Also rescued a canoeing pair earlier who had capsized. Then we had epic winds to the point we were rowing and still going upriver. We had a kayak but had to give up on that because of the winds. We later were interviewed by rangers about the fire, but weren't able to add much. But it's a really nice trip and if you did it, odds are good you could catch a ride back to Loma from Westwater, as there are generally lots of folks around there.
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To get some practice in before going on a bigger/remote trip you can float sections of the Colorado River through town and use your bike on the Riverfront Trail as a shuttle. I’ve done that a few times and it makes a nice after-work float in the summer.
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