Dolores River Canyon Wilderness Study Area


The Dolores River Canyon WSA consists of rugged canyons cut through sedimentary strata creating vertical walls with colorful ledges and massive cliffs. Leading into to the main canyon are numerous tributary canyons. Many are very narrow, sheer-walled, and boulder-choked, with hidden grotto pools of clear, cool water and hanging ferns. The geologic history of the area is clearly exposed, offering a 160-million-year-old exhibit, beginning with the oldest exposed rock-limestones of the Pennsylvanian Period (formed 300 million years ago) progressing to the youngest exposed material of the Entrada Sandstone from the Jurassic Period (formed 140 million years ago). The WSA lies within the Colorado Plateau Province. Vegetation includes pinyon-juniper, spineless hedgehog cactus, sagebrush, Mormon tea, skunkbush, buffalo berry, cottonwood, ponderosa pine, aspen, and spruce/fir. Fauna includes desert bighorn sheep, river otter, mountain lion, bobcat, mule deer, waterfowl, coyote, collared lizard, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, golden eagles, and various other raptors. Opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation are excellent and include backpacking, hiking, photography, rock climbing and whitewater rafting.

Visitation Information

The Dolores River Canyon WSA is located Montrose and San Miguel counties, approximately 17 miles west of Naturita; 28 miles north of Dove Creek; two miles south of CO-90.

Visitor Advisory

Total Area: 30,119 acres

Elevation Range: ~5,000 to ~6,400 feet

BLM Field Office: Tres Rios and Uncompahgre

Designated: 1980 (Wilderness Study Area)