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, the San Rafael Swell anticline, area monoclines, and other US western-states geologic formations were created. 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 thirteen canyons inside Scenic Color Country between Dotsero, Colorado, and Needles, California, as the Colorado 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, Coloardo, 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.
U128 parallels the Colorado in two no-name canyons (BLM's Colorado River Byway) between Dewey and Moab, and 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. Prior to the opening of Grand Canyon Bridge in 1929, there were no highway crossings for the 800+ miles other than the risky Lee's Ferry that operated occasionally (update: we have found a couple of local bridges that opened in 1916 - more info in our Colorado River Bridges and Historic Navajo Bridge articles).
The Photo Gallery contains all 67 pictures in the article.
Auto Shows is a menu with a quick tour (one photo of each canyon), 11 auto-shows of the canyons, and all of the photos of the thirteen 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 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.