The Dolores River begins in the San Juan Mountains and meets the Colorado River in southeast Utah near Moab.
The flow of the Dolores and the river’s ecology have been severely impacted by the construction of McPhee Dam, which was completed in 1984 and built primarily to supply irrigation water. Downstream from McPhee Dam, stretches of the Dolores have dried up in recent years, but the 2022-2023 winter delivered a tremendous snowpack to the San Juan Mountains that filled the reservoir and provided a rare opportunity for recreational boaters to float the river.
See this page in our multimedia library for drone-captured photos and videos of a historic hanging flume along the Dolores River and this page for imagery of the river near Gateway and Bedrock, Colorado.
- “The disappearing Dolores River,” Jonathan Romeo, The Durango Telegraph, June 17, 2021
- “Conservation momentum surges for southwest Colorado’s Dolores River as record flows draw rafters,” Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun, May 1, 2023
- “Can the Dolores River be saved?” Jonathan Thompson, High Country News, May 11, 2023
|May 26, 2023
|Dolores River and McPhee Reservoir, Colorado (map)
|Mitch Tobin/The Water Desk with aerial support by LightHawk
|Free to reuse under Creative Commons license.
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