The Cross Canyon WSA consists of several breathtaking canyons, including Cross Canyon itself, Ruin Canyon and Cow Canyon, that have all been cut by fluvial erosion through an uplifted sedimentary bed. Within these canyons are perennial streams. The WSA also contains many smaller tributary canyons that spread out from the main canyons. Numerous rock outcrops, ledges, and cliffs are exposed in the canyons that range in depth from 340 to 850 feet. A number of scenic panoramas of Cross Canyon and surrounding areas can be viewed from the mesa or cliff top.
The Dakota Sandstone and Morrison Formation are exposed from erosion within this area, providing the opportunity to study the stratigraphy of the Jurassic and Upper Cretaceous periods. This WSA also contains abundant archaeological value, such as the numerous Anasazi ruin sites.
Total Area: 12,795 acres (11,787 Colorado; 1,008 Utah)
Elevation Range: ~5,140 to ~6,500 feet
BLM Field Office: Tres Rios
Designated: 1980 (Wilderness Study Area)
Location: The Cross Canyon WSA is located in Dolores and Montezuma counties, approximately 14 miles southwest of Cahone; 40 miles northwest of Cortez. The WSA extends an additional 1,008 acres into Utah, making the total acreage 12,795.
Flora & Fauna: Vegetation consists mainly of pinyon-juniper, sagebrush, cottonwood, willow, tamarisk, boxelder, sage, mormon tea, mountain mahogany, rabbitbrush, cliffrose, antelope bitterbrush, and various other shrubs. Fauna includes black bear, mountain lion, coyote, bobcat, desert spiney lizard, western ribbon snake, Ord's kangaroo rat, various fish, bald and golden eagles, and various other raptors. This area is significant as an undisturbed refuge for indigenous flora and fauna in a region that has been greatly modified by agriculture.
Recreation: Activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, hunting, horseback riding, and photography. For more information, visit the Recreation site. Please note that though unconfined recreation is encouraged in WSAs, specific types of recreation may be barred from a specific area to prevent degradation of natural conditions.
Click here for additional information about the Cross Canyon WSA from the Tres Rios Field Office.
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Tres Rios Field Office | (970) 882-7296 | 29211 Hwy 184, Dolores, CO 81323