navigation bar

Colorado River, Utah
Report by Marc W. McCord

2004 Westwater Canyon Permit Requirements
and Application Procedures


You can request a river access permit for Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River in Utah by calling (435) 259-7012, 60 days in advance of your intended launch date and requesting a permit, according to the following instructions from the BLM Moab Office:

Due to heavy recreational demand and to protect the primitive nature of the Canyon, permits are required year-round for private and commercial use. Between April 1st and September 30th, private use is limited to five permits or 75 people (whichever occurs first) per day; commercial use is limited during this period to 75 passengers per day. From October 1st through March 31st, private use is limited to nine permits or 150 people per day. Commercial use generally does not take place during this time period.

How to Obtain a Private Permit

A permit is required year-round to run Westwater Canyon. Permits are issued only through advance reservation to individuals 18 years and older. The maximum group size is 25 people. Do not show up at the launch ramp without a permit expecting to launch or to join another group. No waiting lists are maintained. Launches become available 2 months prior to the launch date. For example, July 5th launches first become available on May 5th. If the day to call is a weekend or federal holiday, then you need to call the next working day. You can acquire any launch dates available within the two-month period. Launches are issued on a first-come, first-served basis using the telephone. For example, the first five people to call (435) 259-7012 on May 5th (starting at 8 am) will receive a permit for July 5th. You do not need to submit an application to acquire a permit. All needed information is obtained when you call for a launch including: date of launch, size of group, name, address, and phone number of trip leader, name, address, and phone number of alternate trip leader (this is optional), payment information (i.e., credit card number, expiration date, and billing address). You need access to a fax machine if picking up a launch within one week of the launch date. You can acquire only one launch per day, and possess only one unpaid permit at a time.


The fee is $7.00 per person and can be paid with cash, check, or credit card. Payment can be made when you acquire a launch, and all fees are due at least 30 days prior to your launch date. If you pick up a launch that is less than 30 days away, you need to pay for it at the time your reservation is made. Payments must be made by the trip leader or alternate trip leader. Payments cannot be made at the launch site. There is no fee charged for launches between December 1st and February 28th.

Changing or Cancelling a Reservation

  • Changing of trip leader
  • Increasing group size (if space is available)
  • Changing of launch date (if another launch is available within the two-month time frame).

  • Changes must be made at least 24 hours prior to your launch date during River Office hours. Please notify the River Office if you are unable to use your launch date. This will reduce the amount of unused Westwater launches. If you haven't already made two changes to a paid permit, you can request a launch date change (and payment transfer) at the time of cancellation. If canceling a paid trip more than 30 days in advance, you can request, at time of cancellation, that a credit be transferred for payment of an already obtained Desolation Canyon or San Juan River launch. NO REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED!

    Smooth Operation

    Our permit issuance process incorporates the following elements to ensure smooth operation:

  • Calls must be received during River Office hours: 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Monday-Friday (excluding Federal holidays)
  • Please designate one person per group to call in for your chosen launch
  • No walk-in reservations before 9:00 a.m.
  • An online calendar is available showing open launch dates (updated daily)
  • You must speak to someone at the River Office to obtain a reservation and/or make changes to an existing reservation (please, no phone messages)
  • Permit Stipulations


    Failure to comply with these requirements may result in trips being delayed or permits invalidated, and may result in penalties under Federal or Utah Law and Regulations. Launching without a permit may result in penalties under Federal or Utah Law and Regulations.

  • 1. The permit is not transferable without prior approval of the issuing office, and must be in the possession of the permittee on the trip. Permittee must provide photo ID at permit inspection;

  • 2. Permittee must allow rangers to complete permit checks to determine the validity of the permit, ascertain that the group has all required equipment, and orient participants about river etiquette and safety;

  • 3. The permittee must, at the launch site, have:

    No more people than the number paid for on the permit;
    A MAJOR First Aid kit;
    A repair kit or kits (for inflatable craft);
    An air pump or pumps;
    A washable, reusable toilet system;
    A durable metal fire pan. Fire pans must be carried on all overnight trips and all trips even if stoves are to be used for cooking;
    A properly fitted whitewater USCG-approved Type I, III or V life jacket for each member or the party

  • 4. Each raft or dory must, at the launch site, have an extra oar, paddle or motor, and a bailing bucket;

  • 5. Parties using only low capacity vessels (canoes or kayaks) under 16 feet in length must carry spare paddles as follows: 1 to 3 boats require 1 spare paddle, 4 to 6 boats require 2 spare paddles, 7 to 9 boats require 3 spare paddles, etc.;

  • 6. Each boat of 16 feet or longer must have a type IV throwable device such as a ring buoy, or a throw bag with at least 40 feet of line;

  • 7. The permittee must ensure that all trip participants:

    Carry all charcoal, fire ash, garbage, solid human body and pet waste out of the river area (leaving solid human body waste on public land or dumping it into vault toilets or trash receptacles at BLM administered facilities is prohibited);
    Adhere to the Utah Boating Act, which includes the wearing of life jackets, and registration of motor boats;
    Not engage in commercial use;
    List any trip sponsor associated with the trip on the permit application;
    Keep side canyon streams and springs free of soap and other contaminants;
    Not remove, damage or destroy archaeological, historical, ecological resources;
    Make campfires only in fire pans and limit the use of wood to driftwood;
    Not engage in upstream motorized travel or engage in downstream motorized travel at other than a low speed;
    Launch, travel and camp together as a group;
    Not camp or build fires on public land within 1/2 mile of the mouth of Rock Creek

  • Click the links below for information regarding the section of the Colorado River and its tributaries where you want to paddle.

    [ Colorado River Homepage ] [ Westwater Canyon ] [ SH 128 to Moab ] [ Moab to Lake Powell ]
    [ Dirty Devils River ] [ Dolores River ]

    Southwest Paddler
    Click to return to the Southwest Paddler Homepage
    Home Page
    Southwest Paddler

    Utah Rivers Index
    Canoeman River

    Guide Services
    Return to the homepage
    Home Page
    TARGET="_BLANK">Return to the homepage
    Home Page

    CobraGraphics - Web Designs with a Bite!

    Send E-mail This web page designed, created and maintained by
    Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics
    © March 4, 2003. All rights reserved.
    Last updated March 3, 2014

    Copyright © 1997-2012, Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. All rights reserved. Southwest Paddler, CobraGraphics and Canoeman River Guide Services are trademarks of Marc W. McCord dba CobraGraphics. The textual, graphic, audio, and audio/visual material in this site is protected by United States copyright law and international treaties. You may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except for your personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All original photographs on this web site are the exclusive property of Marc W. McCord or other designated photographers and may not be copied, duplicated, reproduced, distributed or used in any manner without prior written permission under penalty of US and International laws and treaties.