ELEVATION: 4,700' - 6,800'
LOCATION: 10 miles west of Grand Junction
ACREAGE: 75,550 (with 5,200 acres in Utah)
SEASON: May - Oct Biting gnats may be prevalent from late May - late July. Summer day time temperatures commonly exceed 100°. Hats, sunscreen, bug repellant and 1 gallon of water per person, per day recommended.
FEATURES: The longest canyon of the seven canyons is twelve miles in length, and all contain interesting side canyons. Geological features in these canyons include spires, windows, giant alcoves and desert patina or “varnish.” Canyons may reach a depth of almost 1,000 feet, bounded by spectacular redrock cliffs. Spring runoff and summer thunderstorms create glistening waterfalls and plunge pools. The area contains the second largest concentration of natural arches in the country. Vegetation in the meandering canyon bottoms include 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.
FACILITIES: No facilities available at the Rattlesnake Arches, Knowles Canyon or Jones Canyon trailheads. Wheelchair-accessible restroom at the Pollock Bench and Devil’s Canyon trailheads.
DRINKING/STREAM WATER: No fresh drinking water available. Streams within the wilderness are sparse and typically only have water in them for short periods of time in the spring and fall. Plan to pack in at least 1 gallon per person, per day.
CAMPING: Backpackers are encouraged to use stoves while back country camping, and to use preexisting campsites and not create any new disturbances. Boaters camping overnight are required to have portable toilets and firepans or stoves for cooking. A permit is also required to camp overnight in the river corridor. Please see the Ruby-Horsethief boating information page for more details.
NOTE: Overnight camping is prohibited in and around the arches, along the cherry stem road (last 1.5 miles of the motorized access road), and the parking area at the trailhead. During established fire bans, all fire, including that contained in firepans and stoves, may be prohibited.