McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area
Guide

Introduction

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is a 193 square mile Bureau of Land Management property that sits within the high desert canyon country near Grand Junction, Colorado. This BLM land which was initially known as Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area was renamed in January 2005.

There are plenty of unique natural resources at McInnis Canyons NCA, chief of which is the 117 square mile Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness which has the second-largest natural arches in North America. This NCA is also renowned for the important fossils that have been uncovered within its boundaries. The Old Spanish Trail also runs through this BLM land in Colorado.

Different camping and recreational sites and areas are available at this NCA for visitors and campers to visit, whether it's for group recreation or to spend some time away from the noise. The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness is one of those sites you must visit to get a taste of McInnis Canyons has to offer. Other places within the park that are popular among visitors are Rabbit Valley and Rattlesnake-Mee Canyons, while Colorado National Monument and Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area are external sites with more adventurous possibilities.

RV Rentals in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Transportation

Driving

Located near Grand Junction in Mesa County, west of Interstate 70, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area can be accessed via a network of roads that branch off the highway. The western boundary of the park is Utah, from which guests can also access the park via I-70 and Highway 50.

The terrain within this BLM property spans dry and high desert lands to dramatic canyons, so navigation within the park can be difficult with personal vehicles. Some of the roads in the park are good for cars, for example at Rabbit Valley, but it is recommended that bikes, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles or high clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles be used in the park by visitors. The rough roads in the park do not really support the use of trailers and recreational vehicles.

There are designated parking spaces within the NCA for all kinds of vehicles, including RVs and horse trailers, so parking is not allowed on the side of the road or anywhere else.

Equipment rentals are available nearby at Colorado National Monument for visitors and campers who wish to make use of RVs and trailers within the park.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Campsites in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Alternate camping

Knowles Canyon Overlook Campground

Knowles Canyon Overlook Campground is a primitive campground from where you can enjoy scenic views of the Colorado River and the Black Ridge Canyon Wilderness. This campground can only be accessed by high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles, so you are advised not to drive your RVs/trailers there because of the rough road.

There are seven undeveloped sites within the campground with a pit toilet and fire rings available. Dry camping opportunities are available and you can come along with your pets. The maximum stay is 7 days.

Castle Rocks Campground

Castle Rocks Campground is a pet-friendly campground within Rabbit Valley at McInnis Canyons NCA with campsites available for primitive and dry camping opportunities. The campground has a pit toilet and two picnic tables and the sites are free.

Stay within the campground is limited to seven days and there are hiking opportunities for campers. Accessibility by vehicles is not guaranteed due to the dirt roads that lead to the BLM campground.

Jouflas Campground

Jouflas Campground is a pet-friendly campground located in Rabbit Valley, available free of charge and open to dry camping and vehicle camping opportunities. Dispersed camping is also available for guests who fancy that.

Eight of the sites within the campground are equipped with picnic tables and fire grates, while toilet facilities are present throughout the campground.

The roads that lead to the campground are not maintained in winter, so they can be rough at times. RVs and trailers that exceed 30 feet cannot be accommodated here. The maximum stay is 14 days.

Seasonal activities in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

In-Season

The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness is a very popular site within McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, not in the least because of the distinct spires and arches, beautiful desert patina, massive alcoves as well as the seven major red rock canyon systems that it features.

One of the most attractive things about the wilderness is the abundance of wildlife within its corridors. The recreational opportunities within the wilderness include hiking, hunting, horseback riding, backpacking as well as rafting.

Trails

The trails at McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area offer various recreational opportunities for visitors at the park to choose how they want to explore this BLM land in Colorado.

The primitive roads within the BLM park as well as the trails provide equestrian riders, mountain bikers, riders and cyclists as well as hikers with challenging and engaging activities. Mack Ridge and Kokopelli’s Trail, for example, feature outstanding single-track mountain biking opportunities, while ATV riders and cyclists enjoy Rabbit Valley’s trails.

Wildlife

Wildlife and bird enthusiasts are intrigued by the sight of the deer, mountain lion, golden and bald eagles, as well as desert bighorn sheep that call the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness within McInnis Canyons NCA wilderness home. Other birds often seen in the park include blue herons and peregrine falcons. Hunters are attracted to the park for the desert bighorn sheep and black bear within this BLM property.

Migratory waterfowl are yet another huntable game at the park. Hunting is regulated by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Off-Season

Colorado River Corridor

Fun opportunities abound at the Colorado River Corridor at McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area for visitors who love water-based recreational activities. Along the 25-mile stretch of Ruby-Horsethief on this corridor is flat-water that runs through beautiful red rock canyons. This section of the Colorado River Corridor features lots of day hike opportunities for those seeking solitude within the park as well as those that fancy an adventure. Another section – Black Rocks – consists of a rock that is about 1.7 billion years old.

Rabbit Valley Motorized Area

Rabbit Valley is one of the areas within McInnis Canyons National Canyons Area that is favorable for the use of vehicles and cars. As a result, the most common activities within this area are ATV and motorcycle riding. Mountain biking is also a popular activity within this area. The trails that are present here are marked so that users will know what activities are permitted on them. Additionally, dispersed camping opportunities are available within the Valley.

Rattlesnake-Mee Canyons

If you want to enjoy primitive and solitude fun activities at McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, then Rattlesnake-Mee Canyons is the perfect place for that. This area is characterized by giant alcoves, windows, spires, arches and desert patina. The arches are rocky and steep and require that you exercise caution as you navigate them. The majority of the canyons’ parts are connected by hiking trails so be sure to have with you your best hiking boots for your exploration of the region.

Find the perfect campsite.