Ruby Horsethief Canyon – Private Group Trip

Family friendly overnight river trip on the Colorado River

The Ruby-Horsethief stretch is a family friendly river destination for both desert dwellers and first time visitors. This guided experience is the ideal way to spend some quality time with your group while enjoying all the breathtaking scenery and rich naturalist interp the river has to offer. Say goodbye to frantic civilization for a few days as you watch dramatic red sandstone towers rise above the flat waters of the canyon.

If you are looking for a family friendly trip that promotes group bonding through disconnecting from our fast paced society, look no further than Ruby Horsethief Canyon. CFI river trips are the perfect combination of luxuries like fresh food and cast iron cooking with backcountry serenity and beauty.

Adventure and Exploration

Ruby-Horsethief is filled with side canyons to explore. An ambitious group can fill their adventure with guided naturalist hikes throughout their journey downriver. Relaxing at camp is totally acceptable as well!

Guided Natural History

This river corridor home to incredible geology, from the dramatic sandstone spires to the ancient black rocks of the ancestral Rocky Mountains. Spot birds and other wildlife and feel free to ask your Naturalist Guide questions.

Family Friendly

Your CFI guide is first and foremost an educator! They are experienced teachers who can dive into geology, ecology, history, and other topics in a way that is sure to capture the interest of everyone in your group.

Looking for more adventure? Funnel Falls awaits!

Extend this trip through Westwater Canyon.
Packaged price is $970 for a 4 day 3 night trip.

The Colorado River: Loma, CO to Westwater, UT
Call 435 259-7750 for availability
3 days and 2 nights
Group Size:
6 to 25

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.
  • Fee includes $10 BLM special area fee

See other trips in these categories:

Trip Narrative

This popular trip starts in Loma, Colorado, and ends at the Westwater Ranger Station in Utah. Groups aged 14 and older have the option to continue past the ranger station and tackle the thrilling challenges of Westwater Canyon.

As we kick off from the boat ramp, turn your devices on airplane mode, because there is no 5G where we’re going! This is your chance to leave your worries at home and settle into river life for a few days.

As we navigate through the canyon, we will come across archeological, geological, historic wonders. Ancient stepways tell stories of past inhabitants, while towering canyon walls expose dramatic geologic features. Your naturalist guides are close by to answer questions you have about the unique history and ecology of the area.

After a day of boating, we will pull off on one of the beach campsites and set up camp. Feel free to break open our trip library, relax by the riverside, or grab a set of watercolors and wander off in search of the perfect vista. You won’t have to go far! Your guides can also conduct kid friendly activities that are designed to help everyone slow down to connect to nature, and to each other.

Soon, the smells of a tasty dinner will waft across the campsite, and the whole group will share a meal together. Eventually, you’ll be treated to some of the darkest skies in the country as you fall asleep to the sounds of the nearby river.

This trip is ideal for families and groups who aren’t afraid to ditch their cell phones for some authentic connection through nature. 


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, our guides work extremely hard and appreciate getting tipped! 

On school trips tips are not expected but greatly appreciated. 

On an adult or private trip, an industry suggested tip is about 10% if your program fee, depending on your experience.

If you wish to include a gratuity, cash is preferred, but sending a check or a payment to CFI's Venmo: @canyonlandsfieldinstitute is also a great way to thank your guides for their hard work.  Tips are always pooled and distributed.

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.   
  • Tents are provided and sleep kits (sleeping bag, sleeping pad) can be borrowed at no additional cost 

CFI is a non-profit organization and fees are not taxed. By choosing CFI, you are supporting our efforts to provide lifechanging outdoor experiences for hundreds of children per year.  Scholarships are available on an as needed basis.