Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area
Season Dates: March - November
Site Overview: The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area consists of 36,113 acres of public lands characterized by gentle sloping plateau dissected by four major canyon systems (Main, Coal, Cottonwood and Spring Canyons) with many side canyons. Excellent opportunities exist for solitude and unconfined recreation. The outstanding scenic beauty, topographic diversity and the presence of the wild horse herd offers photography opportunities also. The ruggedness and abrupt slopes leading to the valley floor give it distinct character with many challenges for the visitor.
WILD HORSE VIEWING: Wild horses are most frequently spotted in sagebrush parks scattered throughout the horse range, traveling in small bands made up of a stud and his harem of mares, or in bachelor bands of young stallions. Horses use the higher country in spring, summer and fall, moving to lower country in winter where there is less snow and feed is more easily found. Some of the best opportunities for catching a glimpse during the summer months is in the Indian Park or North Soda areas (the De Beque/Winter Park Rd entrance). And during the winter they may be spotted in Coal Canyon or Main Canyon (Coal Canyon entrance). NOTE: The herd is constantly on the move and viewing them is usually a matter of being at the right place at the right time.
The 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act provides for the management, protection and control of all unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands administered by the BLM. Though wild horse herds live in many parts of the western United States, the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area is one of only three areas in the United States set aside specifically for them. Just 8 miles northeast of Grand Junction, the Wild Horse Area encompasses rugged canyons and plateaus. From 80 to 120 wild horses roam the sagebrush parks and pinyon-juniper covered hills which dominate the area. Natural barriers such as cliffs and canyons are supplemented with fencing to define the area and control horse movement. Every 3 to 4 years, 20 - 60 wild horses are rounded up and adopted out through the wild horse adoption program, to control herd levels.
Directions: There are two accesses into the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area, Coal Canyon and Winter Flats Rd. Coal Canyon Entrance: From Grand Junction take I-70 east to the Cameo exit (Exit 45), cross the Colorado River and drive past the Public Service power plant. Stay on the main road. Follow the road westward for approximately 1.5 miles to the trailhead. NOTE: The Coal Canyon Trail is closed to motorized traffic from December 1 - May 30. Hiking and horseback riding are permitted year round. DeBeque/Winter Flats Road Entrance: From Grand Junction take I-70 east to the DeBeque exit (Exit 62). Cross over the Colorado River and stay on main road, take a left in to the town of DeBeque (4th Street) stay on this road until you come to the gas station, take a left and follow the road all the way to the end. This is 2nd street. Proceed to Winter Flats Road and turn right here. Travel approximately 20 miles to a fork in the road. The right branch will take you to the North Soda area (the northern most point of the Wild Horse Area) and the left branch will take you into the Indian Park area. CAUTION: Winter Flats Road is a 4X4 road year round and usually impassable during winter months and in rainy conditions.
Contact Information: Grand Junction Field Office 970-244-3000
Additional Recreation Opportunities in the Bookcliffs
Little Bookcliffs WSA
Coal Canyon Trailhead
Mount Garfield Trailhead
Friends of the Mustangs
Beginning in the mid-1980s Friends of the Mustangs and the BLM have worked together to ensure that both the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Range and the horses living there are kept healthy. Projects include trail clearing, spring development and maintenance, and tracking horse numbers, locations and range conditions. Friends of the Mustangs also assist in gathers and in finding adoptive homes for the animals, working with prospective owners and checking back with them to make sure horse and owner are doing well.