Welcome to the Bureau of Land Management’s McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness.
McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, or NCA, is west of Grand Junction, Colorado. Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness lies at the center of the NCA. Both areas are managed by the BLM Grand Junction Field Office.
The landscape that makes up the NCA is part of the Uncompahgre Plateau, which rises above the Grand Valley of western Colorado. Rugged sandstone canyons lead to the Colorado River. Geology, erosion and time have resulted in a unique mix of colorful cliffs, deep canyons and sculpted arches. Visitors will find a remote and rugged back country experience in a fragile and beautiful desert environment.
You can enjoy a variety of activities in the NCA, such as: boating and fishing the Colorado River; hunting for mule deer, elk, mountain lion and waterfowl; off-highway vehicle use; livestock grazing; fossil viewing; sightseeing; photography; hiking; horseback riding; mountain biking; and dispersed camping.
Meandering through the NCA and along the northern edge of the wilderness is the Ruby-Horsethief section of the Colorado River. This 25-mile stretch of flat water takes boaters from Loma, Colorado, to Westwater, Utah. It offers Class I & II rapids, except during high water when boating is more challenging. Boaters travel through red rock canyons and have many day-hike opportunities. The float takes between 8 and 15 hours, so plan ahead by signing in at the Loma register box to indicate where you will camp. Please pack out waste, only camp in designated sites, and bring your own water.
Hiking and horseback riding are great ways to explore the wilderness. From the Colorado River, you have access to three spectacular canyon hikes: Rattlesnake Canyon has an entrance 3 miles below the Loma put-in, and the Mee and Knowles Canyons offer camping and hiking spots from the river. Hikers may also enjoy the Trail Through Time, McDonald Creek, and Rabbit’s Ear trails. These trails are outside the wilderness, but within the NCA.
Some trails have seasonal closures to protect the environment and the plants and animals that depend on it, so check with the Grand Junction Field Office before you go.
If wheeled recreation is more your speed, there’s the 20,000-acre Rabbit Valley area 26 miles west of Grand Junction. Visitors will find easy ATV and 4WD roads or 8 challenging single-track motorcycle trails. The area includes a challenging rim trail and a practice course for beginners. Mountain biking and camping are also popular activities in Rabbit Valley.
12 miles west of Grand Junction you’ll find world-class mountain biking opportunities at Mack Ridge, with six loops to test riders’ skills. The Kokopelli Trail weaves through the area and continues for more than 140 miles before ending in Moab, Utah. Roads and trails within the NCA have travel restrictions to protect resources, wildlife habitat and the safety of all users. Please remember that motorized and mechanized travel is not permitted within most of the Wilderness.
While exploring the NCA, you may discover fossils, lithic scatters, rock art, and plants important to Native Americans for medicinal and ceremonial values. Visitors may view dinosaur bones or watch a dig in progress at the Trail Through Time, Dinosaur Hill or the Fruita Paleontological Area. Native Americans and early settlers also roamed much of the area. Paleontologists and archeologists study these sites to interpret our past, so please leave things undisturbed so that others can learn from them too. The NCA is a living landscape and outdoor laboratory. BLM has partnerships with local education and scientific institutions, and scientific study is ongoing.
Restoration projects are continual in the NCA. What is learned about land restoration here may have value on all BLM lands. This area benefits from the dedication of many local volunteer and friends groups on these and other projects in the NCA.
The McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area and Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness are managed by the BLM’s Grand Junction Field Office. For more information please call 970-244-3000 or visit the Web site at: www.blm.gov/co and click on the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area link under the “special areas” section.
Please play safely while enjoying your public lands.