Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

Infobox_protected_area | name = Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness
iucn_category = Ib

caption =
locator_x = 76
locator_y = 81
location = Colorado and Utah, USA
nearest_city = Grand Junction
lat_degrees = 39
lat_minutes = 06
lat_seconds =
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 108
long_minutes = 59
long_seconds =
long_direction = W
area = 75,439 acres (305.29 km²)
established = October 24, 2000
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body = U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness (BRCW) is located in western Colorado and eastern Utah, USA, within the arid Colorado Plateau region approximately 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of Grand Junction, Colorado. The wilderness lies on the northwest flank of the Uncompahgre Plateau. It is characterized by the high, east-west trending Black Ridge dissected by seven major canyon systems, draining into the Colorado River in Ruby Canyon. Elevations range from 4,700 feet (1,400 meters) above sea level along the river to 6,800 feet (2070 meters). Canyons vary in length from several miles to twelve miles in length and may contain interesting side canyons. Geological features in these canyons include spires, windows, giant alcoves and desert varnish. Canyons may reach a depth of almost 1,000 feet (300 meters), forming spectacular redrock cliffs. Spring runoff and summer thunderstorms create glistening waterfalls and plunge pools. Rattlesnake Canyon contains the second largest concentration of natural arches in the country. Mee Canyon is even more remote, and contains Arch Tower.

Vegetation in the meandering canyon bottoms includes pinyon-juniper, grasses, and cottonwoods, willow and box elder. The upland mesas contain a dense stands of pinyon-juniper with some sagebrush parks. Cryptobiotic soils are well developed in the upland area. Wildlife viewing may include deer, mountain lion, desert bighorn sheep, along with golden and bald eagles.The wilderness area is 75,439 acres (305.29 km²). Colorado contains 70,319 acres (284.57 km²) and Utah contains 5,120 acres (20.72 km²). It was designated by the U.S. Congress in 2000 and is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness forms the core of the 123,430-acre (495 km²) McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.


There are three main access points for the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness: front country (Fruita urban-interface), high country (Black Ridge via Glade Park) and via the Colorado River. Visitors have easy access the front country area year round while the high country and Colorado River access remain accessible only to the most dedicated visitors.

Front Country

The front country area of the the BRCW is located a few minutes from the town of Fruita, Colorado via State Highway 340. This area, known as the "wilderness-urban interface" is a popular destination for local residents and dogs looking for their daily exercise. The Bureau of Land Management maintains three trailheads in this area - Devils Canyon, Fruita Paleontological Area, and Pollock Bench.

High Country

The high country of the BRCW is accessible from the community of Glade Park, Colorado. Visitors to this area are treated to a true wilderness experience in a rough, remote land that provides outstanding opportunities for solitude. The Rattlesnake Canyon area is home to the world's second-largest concentration of natural arches (after Arches National Park). Mee Canyon contains a 300' deep alcove that is accessible only by way of a difficult hiking trail with many exposed ledges and scrambling. Knowles and Jones Canyons offer visitors a true wilderness experience, with outstanding opportunities for solitude and a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.

Colorado River

The Colorado River bisects the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and forms the northern boundary of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness as it winds its way through Horsethief Canyon and Ruby Canyon. The river itself is not a part of the wilderness, however floaters are able to hike up many of the main canyons of the area including Rattlesnake Canyon, Moore Canyon, Mee Canyon, and Knowles Canyon. The most popular put in to float this section of the river is the Loma boat launch in Loma, Colorado. Most river users take out in Westwater, Utah, although some continue on through the Class III and IV rapids of Westwater Canyon (permit required).

Rattlesnake Canyon, with its nine arches, is the second largest concentration of natural arches in the country [ [ Hiking Rattlesnake Canyon] ] .


* Lynna P. Howard, "Utah's Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide" (Westcliffe Publishers, 2005) ISBN 1-56579-388-9

ee also

*Rattlesnake Canyon
*Ruby Canyon
*National Wilderness Preservation System
*List of U.S. Wilderness Areas
*Mee Canyon
*Arch Tower

External links

* [ Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness]
* [ BLM Colorado: Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness]
* [ BLM Colorado: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area]
* [,-108.924637&spn=0.246674,0.462799&t=h Google Maps satellite view]

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