Eagle Float Birdwatching

A unique chance to go birdwatching on the Colorado River

2023 Dates TBD

The Eagle Float is Canyonlands Field Institute’s iconic tribute to those who don’t mind waking up a little early to see the magnificent waterfowl of the Colorado River. Anybody is welcome, from serious birders looking to check off a few bucket list species, to outdoor enthusiasts looking to experience a fun, relaxing float through a beautiful canyon.

Guest Outfitter & Experts

CFI guides team up with Sheri Griffith Expeditions for this motorized day trip through Ruby Horsethief Canyon as we spy for eagles, falcons, and other magnificent birds along the river corridor.  Guest biologists provide tips on identification, habits, population status and current wildlife management issues.

Calling all Birders

Whether you keep your dog-eared Sibley Bird Guide close at hand, or you can’t tell a grebe from a pelican, this trip will be sure to capture your imagination. The serene sandstone of Ruby Horsetheif canyon pairs well with the crisp, clean winter air.


The Colorado River: Loma, CO to Westwater, UT
Group Size:
Minimum of 12, maximum of 16
$220, $209 for members

This is how we rate the challenges you might face on a CFI trip.

Level 1 - Easy

  • Low level of physical activity, minimal movement required
  • 0 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking or walking 0-2 miles per day

Level 2 - Moderate

  • Medium level of physical activity, some movement required
  • 1-4 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 4 miles per day
  • Flatwater or mild whitewater rapids

Level 3 - Active

  • Medium or high level of physical activity
  • 1-5 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking up to 5 miles per day
  • Class I - III whitewater rapids

Level 4 - Challenging

  • High level of physical activity
  • 1-6 nights spent camping or in the field
  • Hiking 5 or more miles per day
  • Class IV whitewater rapids
CFI's Essential Eligibility Criteria outlines specific challenges that you may face on CFI trips. Please consult the EEC for information on responsibilities of participants.
  • The weather will be cold. Please bundle up!
  • a $50 deposit is required to reserve your spot.

See other trips in these categories:

All participants on our adult seminars and on our private trips are required to be fully vaccinated.

Trip Narrative

We will report sightings as data to federal and state wildlife agencies. Over the years, the late February and early March sightings have varied from six to fifty eagles on this stretch. Temperatures and conditions can be chilly so proper clothing and footwear is essential.

Participants will meet at Westwater Ranger Station (the “take out”) at 8 a.m., park here, and then be shuttled by CFI to the launch point at Loma.  We cover 25 miles in one day, rowing and with the help of small outboard motors.   Be sure to bundle up for this February trip, and feel free to bring a thermos full of a hot beverage! The trip reaches the takeout between 5-5:30 p.m

We can run the trip in inclement weather however, extreme weather may cause us to cancel or postpone the trip. We will reconfirm with all participants 48 hours prior about the trip status. If we cancel, you have the option for a reschedule, gift certificate to another program or full refund.

We also offer regular season non-motorized by-request overnight trips through Ruby Horsethief Canyon!


Need to Know

  • CFI staff are trained educators and guides with first aid and CPR certifications. Back-country trips carry satellite communications devices.  
  • All cook and dishware, meals, snacks, and river gear are provided by CFI.   
  • This can be a very cold trip. Expect to be on a moving boat with possible rain and snow.


Some people say food is the most important part of the adventure. On all our overnight trips, CFI will provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a morning and afternoon snack, and an appetizer before dinner. If you have a dietary restriction or food allergy, note it on your medical form so we can best prepare.

Depends on the trip. As a general rule, CFI provides all group gear related to fully outfitting your trip. Specialized gear like PFDs, wetsuits, dry bags, educational materials are all provided by CFI. Additionally, we take care of all kitchen and dishware needs. 

Find out more about trip specific packing.

Most importantly, a willingness to slow down, connect to your surroundings, and experience the moment. Additionally, participants are required to bring a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, personal clothing, medication, and other essential personal items. Many gear items are available for rent. Reach out to us if you are interested in seeing a trip specific packing list, or learn more about trip specific packing here.

CFI provides options to rent gear:

  • Two person tent: $30 / trip
  • Sleeping bag: $20 / trip
  • Kid sleeping pad: $7 / trip
  • Adult sleeping pad (paco pad): $15 / trip
  • Package deal: Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and one tent per two people: $40 / trip

For any CFI summer camp, gear rentals are free!

Every CFI guide has either a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Your trip leader will have a Wilderness First Responder certification. Anyone working with youth has passed a background check, and shuttle drivers are insured with clean driving records. Backcountry trips carry In-Reach satellite communication devices for emergencies. All guides have been evaluated by Canyonlands Field Institute as possessing the judgement, skills, and disposition required for mitigating risk in the field. 

As technology grows more and more invasive by the day, CFI promotes connection to what matters. To achieve this, all school and youth programs are unplugged and students are not permitted to bring electronic devices. Not only is there rarely cell service, devices are a distraction to our ability to connect to the present moment. On Private Group Trips or Adult Seminars, the use of devices is permitted but discouraged.

CFI works hard to ensure a positive experience for all guides and participants. Because of the unpredictable nature of outfitting, we have created a series of policies so maintain our ability to manage risk in the outdoors.

For critical information regarding cancellations, deposits, and other participant responsibilities, please view our trip policies page or contact us with any questions.

Thanks for asking! We know this can be an awkward subject. The fact is that our guides work extremely hard and appreciate getting tipped! 

On school trips, tips are not expected, but they are greatly appreciated. 

On an adult or private trip, an industry standard is to tip $25 per day for each customer.