Squaw/Papoose Canyon


 Squaw/Papoose Canyon WSA (Photo by John Fielder)
The Squaw/Papoose Canyon Wilderness Study Area consists primarily of two beautiful, steep, and winding canyons-Squaw Canyon and Papoose Canyon-that were cut by fluvial erosion into an uplifted sedimentary bed composed of the Morrison Formation and the Dakota Sandstone. Due to the arid nature of this area, the canyon slopes are composed of exposed rock outcrops and steep talus slopes. Numerous tributary canyons, that spread out from the main canyons, merge in this area.

The exposed stratigraphy of the Dakota Sandstone and Morrison Formation reveal the historic-geologic processes of portions of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods; the Morrison Formation is rich in fossilized plants and vertebrates.

There are also various remnants of the Ancestral Puebloan culture in the area, such as lithic sites, masonry dwellings, and food storage structures dating from approximately six to 20 centuries ago.


Total Area:
11,261 acres (4,585 Colorado; 6,676 Utah)
Elevation Range: ~5,300 to ~6,600 feet
BLM Field Office: Tres Rios
Designated: 1980 (Wilderness Study Area)

Location: The Squaw/Papoose Canyon WSA is located in Dolores County, approximately 12 miles southwest of Dove Creek. The WSA extends an additional 6,676 acres into Utah.

Flora & Fauna: Vegetation consists mainly of pinyon-juniper, sagebrush, mormon tea, mountain mahogany, rabbitbrush, cliffrose, antelope bitterbrush, Naturita milkvetch, cottonwood, tamarisk, saltbrush, sedges, rushes, and cattails. Fauna includes black bear, mountain lion, coyote, gray fox, bobcat, beaver, badger, long-tailed weasel, various owls, golden eagles, and various other raptors.

Recreation: Activities include hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, hunting, rock climbing, and photography. For more information, visit the Recreation page. 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 Squaw/Papoose 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