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Browns Canyon


Browns Canyon WSAThe Browns Canyon WSA contains very rugged topography, with many mountains, canyons, and gulches. Drainages generally cross the WSA in an east-to-west direction and empty into the Arkansas River. Browns Canyon WSA offers outstanding opportunities for solitude, especially in canyons and gulches such as Middle Cottonwood Gulch, Cottonwood Gulch, Spring Gulch, Sawmill Gulch, and Green Gulch.

The 14,000-foot peaks of the Sawatch Range are located directly west of the WSA and provide a majestically scenic background. The Ruby Mountain area is very popular among rock hounds, and the Arkansas River Valley offers a wealth of natural and cultural resources. 


Total Area: 
7,451 acres
Elevation Range: ~7,400 to ~9,000 feet
BLM Field Office:
Royal Gorge
Designated: 1980 (Wilderness Study Area)

Location: The Browns Canyon WSA is located in Chaffee County, approximately six miles south of Buena Vista; seven miles northwest of Salida. The area is bounded on the east by the San Isabel National Forest.

Flora & Fauna: Vegetation consists mainly of pinyon pine and juniper, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, aspen, willow, cottonwood, rabbitbrush, blue gramma grass, mountain muhly, Indian ricegrass, prickly pear cactus, cholla, yucca, and various wildflowers. Fauna includes mule deer, mountain lion, bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, peregrine falcons and various other raptors, and numerous other birds.

Recreation: Activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and photography. For more information, visit the Recreation page. Please note that though unconfined recreation is encouraged in wilderness study areas, specific types of recreation may be barred from a specific area to prevent degradation of natural conditions.

Click here for additional information about the Browns Canyon WSA from the Royal Gorge Field Office.


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Royal Gorge Field Office  |  (719) 269-8500  |  3028 E. Main St., Cañon City, CO 81212