Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

Bordered to the east by Colorado National Monument and to the north by the Colorado River, Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness offers amazing opportunities for outdoor recreation and primitive camping, as well as lots of sights to see. This 118 square mile Bureau of Land Management property in Colorado that extends into Utah can be accessed with ease by vehicles, especially off Interstate 70.

Even though vehicles are not allowed within the wilderness areas, plenty of other exciting opportunities are open to visitors who wish to spend time in the park. Hiking and backpacking are chief among the things to do here. The natural landscapes and geological features also provide good sightseeing opportunities. If you’re a plant or animal enthusiast, there’s more than enough to keep you busy in the wilderness. The Colorado River is also home to activities such as fishing, rafting, kayaking, and canoeing.

Dry camping opportunities abound in the wilderness areas as no facilities/services are provided. More free camping and vehicle camping options are provided at McInnis Canyons NCA.

The US Congress designated the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness in 2000.

RV Rentals in Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness lies about 15 miles west of Grand Canyon Junction, Colorado. The wilderness is accessible via Interstate 70. To the east, Colorado National Monument provides easy access to the wilderness areas, while to the western area of the wilderness is the Colorado/Utah boundary. This BLM wilderness is included in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, so visitors also easily gain access to the wilderness area from the NCA.

Within the boundaries of Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, the use of motorized vehicles, including bikes, and other mechanical equipment is not allowed. Therefore, it is recommended that visitors driving to the park look out for signs and posts indicating the wilderness boundaries as they approach the wilderness area. Around these boundary locations, there are places to park vehicles and cars. Navigation within the wilderness area is either on foot or on horses. The use of wheelchairs is allowed within the wilderness.

There are no direct public transport services to this BLM property in Colorado.

Visitors that require RVs and trailers for developed camping opportunities nearby will find rental services at Colorado National Monument.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

Campsites in Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

Alternate camping

McInnis Canyons NCA Campgrounds

Modern camping opportunities are offered in three camping areas within McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area – Jouflas Campground, Knowles Overlook Campground, and Castle Rocks Campground. Together, these campgrounds feature 16 campsites that offer free camping, tent camping, and vehicle camping opportunities.

Amenities provided include fire grates, picnic tables, and toilet facilities. At Jouflas Campground, RVs and trailers as long as 30 feet can be accommodated. RVs and trailers are not recommended at Knowles Overlook Campground because of the rough road that leads there. So, high clearance vehicles are preferable.

All the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and are pet-friendly. Opportunities for hiking and off-highway vehicle riding are open.

The camping limit is seven days.

Seasonal activities in Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

Off-Season

McInnis Canyons NCA

Guests and campers at Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness love to take advantage of the proximity of McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area to explore the various features, landscapes and recreational opportunities on offer in the area.

Popular things to do in the NCA include fishing, hunting and nature observation. The wildlife that roams the park providing viewing and hunting opportunities include trophy mule deer, black bear, elk, and desert bighorn sheep. Migratory waterfowl are also present in the conservation area.

Biking

Mountain biking opportunities are plentiful outside Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, and the areas open to the sport are popular among visitors from across the region. Within Rabbit Valley in McInnis Canyons NCA, mountain biking, all-terrain vehicle riding, and cycling are popular activities.

Some of the commonly used trails are the moderate to difficult Mack Ridge/Kokopelli Trails that provide mountain bikers with outstanding single-track biking opportunities. Some other available trails are marked with permitted activities for adventurers.

Colorado River

Colorado River, which flows through the northern areas of Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness in an E-W direction, is a popular spot for a host of recreational activities. For campers that fancy water-based recreation, rafting, kayaking, and canoeing are allowed on the river. Fishing is yet another common sport on the river, thanks to the presence of over 35 warm- and cold-water fish species, such as trout, walleye, kokanee salmon, and largemouth bass.

Besides these water activities, opportunities for hunting, hiking, and horseback riding are also provided. Note that a Colorado Fishing License is required to fish on the river.

In-Season

Hiking

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness offers peaceful and rewarding hiking experiences to visitors who come prepared and equipped with their hiking gear and supplies. This BLM wilderness features various hiking trails located around the boundary perimeter, so that trail users can begin their adventure as soon as they arrive at the park.

Some of the available trails include Rattlesnake Arches Trail, Rattlesnake Canyon Trail, Mee Knowles Trail, and Jones Canyon Trail. You are allowed to have your pets on trails too, as long as you keep them on leash.

Sightseeing

The landscapes and natural features at Black Ridge Canyon offer delightful sightseeing experiences to nature lovers at the park. Sitting on the northwestern side of the Uncompahgre Plateau, this BLM property is crossed by seven significant canyon systems, all of which drain into the Colorado River. Park explorers will get the chance to enjoy the view of these canyons that extend as far as twelve miles.

Geological features that you’ll want to take pictures of include windows, spires, desert patina, and giant alcoves. Don’t miss out on the chance to see the world’s second-largest concentration of natural arches in this wilderness area.

Flora and Fauna

Good opportunities to see wildlife species are available within Black Ridge Canyon Wilderness’ areas, owing to the fact that a number of animals and birds call this park home. For example, mountain lions, deer, desert bighorn sheep are popularly sighted roaming the wilderness. Also, avid bird watchers see golden and bald eagles soaring the skies too.

Vegetation is relatively sparse in the wilderness; however, flora enthusiasts still get to see pinyon-juniper, grasses, willows, cottonwoods, and box elder.