Willow Creek Wilderness Study Area
Guide

Introduction

Cut by steep and colorful ridges, as well as deep gullies, hogbacks, sandstone canyons that have been eroded by rain and melted snow waters, and unique rock formations, Willow Creek Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is home to abundant natural features that amaze every nature lover. This Bureau of Land Management park, located about five miles of Dinosaur in Moffat County, Colorado, is a Mecca for every outdoor enthusiast. Access to this WSA that lies south of Dinosaur National Monument is via rough dirt roads that branch off US Highway 40. Come in high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles.

No developed camping facilities are available in this BLM property, so guests settle for primitive camping options within the wilderness. Come along with all you will require since no services are provided. For modern camping opportunities, visit Dinosaur National Monument.

Some of the ways to stay active in the wilderness include hiking along the footpaths where you get to view picturesque vegetation and fauna, rock climbing, hunting, and photography. A visit to the Canyon Visitor Center will offer you the chance to learn about the history and geology of the area. Within the National Monument, recreation activities include fishing, stargazing, river rafting, and auto touring.

RV Rentals in Willow Creek Wilderness Study Area

Transportation

Driving

Willow Creek Wilderness Study Area lies in Moffat County, about five miles northeast of Dinosaur, Colorado. The wilderness area is located eight miles south of Dinosaur National Monument and is bound to the east by Skull Creek WSA. Access to this wilderness area from the south is via local routes that branch off US Highway 40. The park may also be accessed from the west off Harpers Corner Road that leads to Dinosaur National Monument.
It is recommended that you visit the wilderness area in high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles for easy negotiation of the rough dirt roads. In addition, you are advised to come prepared for backcountry conditions, so good knowledge of the weather, terrain and physical conditions of the wilderness will keep you safe.
The use of motorized vehicles and mechanical equipment within this wilderness area is not allowed.
There are no direct transportation services available to this BLM park.
Visitors who wish to rent RVs and camping equipment for developed camping in the region will find rental services in Moffat County and around Dinosaur National Monument.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Willow Creek Wilderness Study Area

Campsites in Willow Creek Wilderness Study Area

First-come first-served

Echo Park Campground

Echo Park Campground is located 38 miles north of Canyon Visitor Center within Dinosaur National Monument. The road to the campground can be impassable at times, so that affects the open season. Group and individual campsites are available in the campground. The group campsite is available by reservation, while the regular sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are 17 campsites here that can accommodate tents and trucks with camper tops and four tent-only campsites. One ADA accessible site is provided. Amenities provided here include vault toilets, campfire rings, picnic tables, and potable water. No trash receptacles are provided, so you should pack out what you pack in.

Pets are allowed.

The road to the campground is not suitable for RVs and motorhomes.

Deerlodge Park Campground

Deerlodge Park Campground is a pet-friendly campground located 53 miles east of Canyon Visitor Center in Dinosaur National Monument. This campground is open all year, but the roads may be impassable in winter. All the campsites here are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.

There are seven shaded sites in the campground, available for tent camping. Amenities provided are picnic tables, fire pits, vault toilets, and potable water (mid-May to mid-July).

RVs/trailers are not allowed in this campground.

Seasonal activities in Willow Creek Wilderness Study Area

In-Season

Hiking

Willow Creek WSA is open for avid hikers to pursue their recreational interests across the different primitive spots scattered within the park. There are no designated hiking trails here, but various footpaths created by previous hikers will guide you along the way.

Even more trails are provided at Dinosaur National Monument where hikers get to appreciate the scenery and rugged landscape present there. In addition, off-trail hiking possibilities are available for skilled hikers that have the right gear.

Flora and Fauna

The steep and rugged terrains within Willow Creek WSA, as well as the numerous canyons, provide good opportunities to view some of the oldest known pinyon pine trees in the region. The vegetation in the wilderness consists of sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, native grasses and forbs, saltbush, and cottonwoods. Boxelder and willows are also common.

Good sightseeing opportunities are also enjoyed by wildlife watchers that get to see fauna such as mule deer, elk, golden eagles, and various raptors.

Canyon Visitor Center

Not only is the Canyon Visitor Center the perfect place to learn about the dinosaurs that once roamed the area, but it also serves as the gateway to the river canyons and mountains in the National Monument. Exhibits are on display to orient guests to the monument’s facilities and areas.

So, as you visit this visitor center, you will get information about the history, geology, plant and animal life, and fossils that characterize the area. Note that no dinosaur fossils are present here. You’d have to visit the rocks in the park.

Off-Season

Horseback Riding

Horseback riders often ride through Willow Creek WSA, even though no equestrian trails are available. Most guests and campers that come with their horse enjoy riding in Dinosaur National Monument too, where they get to explore the dirt roads that are open to horseback riding.

There are regulations in place within the National Monument that guide the use of horses, pack and saddle stock, and other domestic animals. Day and overnight use of horses is available.

Fishing

Fishing is allowed in Dinosaur National Monument, so all angling enthusiasts enjoying primitive recreation at Willow Creek WSA can visit the monument’s water to pursue their desires. A valid state license is required for fishing in the National Monument, so come prepared.

There are four endangered fish species in the rivers in the National Monument. So, if you catch any of these while angling, ensure you release them immediately without harming them in any way.

Stargazing

Believe it or not, Dinosaur National Monument is one of the darkest places left in the US. As a result, campers and visitors get to see the stars of the Milky Way galaxy here with a degree of clarity that is unbeatable. Without doubt, night skies are a vanishing resource, so this opportunity is rare and exciting.

There are plenty of prime places in the National Monument where you can view the night sky through telescopes and binoculars, or with the naked eye.