BLM staff hiking

Cactus Park: This area provides rich opportunities to motorized vehicle enthusiasts to experience the back country. Miles of trails wind within the NCA provide access to the Uncompahgre National Forest, which manages a successful multi-recreational trail system. Opportunity exists for BLM to link into this system. The 142-mile Tabeguache Mountain Bike Trail, which connects Grand Junction to Montrose, goes from Cactus Park on its ascent from Grand Junction to the top of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Visitors interested in the geology of the area can stop at the Gunnison Gravels Area of Critical Environmental Concern, which contains geologic evidence of the ancestral route of the Gunnison River through Unaweep Canyon.

Gunnison River: The relatively flat stretch of river between Escalante Canyon and the mouth of the Dominguez Canyon is attracting increasing numbers of commercial and private boaters, with its unprecedented views of stunning red-rock canyons and wildlife viewing opportunities. Nearly 30 miles of the river flow through the NCA. Campsites are marked and available along the river.

Escalante Canyon: Escalante Canyon includes the Potholes Recreation Area, popular with extreme kayakers in the spring and picnickers in the summer. Restrooms and picnic tables are available for day-use recreation as well. The Escalante Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) contains sensitive plant species, natural seeps, and several globally-unique plant associations including beautiful hanging gardens of small-flowered columbine and Eastwood’s monkeyflower. A 15-mile county road offers visitors a trip back to pioneer days through Escalante Canyon’s “Red Hole in Time” (popularized by local author Muriel Marshall. The road provides easy vehicle and viewing access to historic cabins and trails, rock walls with early settler and Native American inscriptions, and spectacular geologic formations.

Sawmill Mesa: Immediately adjacent to the town of Delta, this area provides critical motorized links to the Uncompahgre National Forest. The Delta-Nucla/25-Mesa Road borders the NCA on the southeast and connects Delta to Nucla and the Divide Road, which follows the spine of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Sawmill Mesa Road and Dry Mesa Road provide Forest Service access to hunting in the fall and 4 wheel drive, ATV, and mountain bike access spring, summer, and fall. This area is rich in history, providing the only access route for settlers in Escalante Creek to Delta in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Hunting Grounds: West of Hwy 50 and east of the Gunnison River this area is rich in cultural heritage resources and a popular location for dispersed recreation.  The area was the traditional hunting area for Ute and Fremont Indians that migrated and hunted through the area.  The area provides valuable opportunities for many different forms of recreation, particularly OHV and horseback riding.

Ninemile Hill: As a result of its close proximity to the Grand Valley, this area is valued for its easily available recreation opportunities for nonmotorized recreation. This is a popular area for relatively unimproved exploration via hiking and horseback riding. The Tabeguache trail, a long distance mixed use trail popular with mountain bikers, motorcycle riders and jeep enthusiasts, also runs through the Ninemile Hill area. Ninemile Hill is easily identifiable by its communication towers along the crest. 

East Creek: Unaweep Canyon is on the northern boundary of the NCA. The canyon is unique because it has drainages running east and west out of the canyon.  East Creek is the eastern drainage that runs along Hwy141 which is designated by the state of Colorado as the Unaweep-Tabaguache Scenic Byway.  Scenic auto touring, bouldering and multi pitch climbing occur along East Creek.