As temperatures rise and the Colorado River quickens its pace with springtime snowmelt, Moabites take to the river. Beloved today for both its wild whitewater and placid sections, the river draws recreational watercraft of many varieties.

Historically, the river has seen a wide variety of boats plying the water. Photographs in the Moab Museum’s Collection paint a picture of the wide and varied boating history of the Colorado River, from ferries to steamboats to rafts and more.

Before bridges connected Moab to the outside world, ferry boats north of Moab and at the site of today’s Dewey Bridge were a crucial transportation link. Here, a ferry boat crosses the river near Moab. [Moab Museum Collection]
 A steam-powered drilling rig makes its way downstream. [Moab Museum Collection]
Flexible, inflatable rafts helped put Moab on the map as a recreation destination. Here, a group of boaters float the “Moab Daily” section of the river in the 1970s. [Photograph by Fran Barnes, Moab Museum Collection]

The Moab Museum is dedicated to sharing stories of the natural and human history of the Moab area. To explore more of Moab’s stories and artifacts, find out about upcoming programs, and become a Member, visit