- Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness
Infobox_protected_area | name = Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness
iucn_category = Ib
locator_x = 76
locator_y = 81
Coloradoand Utah, USA
nearest_city = Grand Junction
lat_degrees = 39
lat_minutes = 06
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 108
long_minutes = 59
long_direction = W
area = 75,439 acres (305.29 km²)
October 24, 2000
governing_body = U.S.
Bureau of Land Management
The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness (BRCW) is located in western
Coloradoand eastern Utah, USA, within the arid Colorado Plateauregion approximately 15 miles (25 kilometers) west of Grand Junction, Colorado. The wilderness lies on the northwest flank of the Uncompahgre Plateau. It is characterized by the high, east-west trending Black Ridge dissected by seven major canyonsystems, draining into the Colorado Riverin Ruby Canyon. Elevations range from 4,700 feet (1,400 meters) above sea levelalong the river to 6,800 feet (2070 meters). Canyons vary in length from several miles to twelve miles in length and may contain interesting side canyons. Geological features in these canyons include spires, windows, giant alcoves and desert varnish. Canyons may reach a depth of almost 1,000 feet (300 meters), forming spectacular redrock cliffs. Spring runoff and summer thunderstorms create glistening waterfalls and plunge pools. Rattlesnake Canyon contains the second largest concentration of natural arches in the country. Mee Canyonis even more remote, and contains Arch Tower.
Vegetation in the meandering canyon bottoms includes pinyon-
juniper, grasses, and cottonwoods, willowand box elder. The upland mesas contain a dense stands of pinyon-juniper with some sagebrushparks. Cryptobiotic soils are well developed in the upland area. Wildlife viewing may include deer, mountain lion, desert bighorn sheep, along with golden and bald eagles.The wilderness area is 75,439 acres (305.29 km²). Coloradocontains 70,319 acres (284.57 km²) and Utahcontains 5,120 acres (20.72 km²). It was designated by the U.S. Congressin 2000and is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness forms the core of the 123,430-acre (495 km²) McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.
There are three main access points for the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness:
front country(Fruita urban-interface), high country(Black Ridge via Glade Park) and via the Colorado River. Visitors have easy access the front country area year round while the high country and Colorado River access remain accessible only to the most dedicated visitors.
The front country area of the the BRCW is located a few minutes from the town of
Fruita, Coloradovia State Highway 340. This area, known as the " wilderness-urban interface" is a popular destination for local residents and dogs looking for their daily exercise. The Bureau of Land Management maintains three trailheads in this area - Devils Canyon, Fruita Paleontological Area, and Pollock Bench.
The high country of the BRCW is accessible from the community of
Glade Park, Colorado. Visitors to this area are treated to a true wilderness experience in a rough, remote land that provides outstanding opportunities for solitude. The Rattlesnake Canyonarea is home to the world's second-largest concentration of natural arches (after Arches National Park). Mee Canyon contains a 300' deep alcovethat is accessible only by way of a difficult hiking trail with many exposed ledges and scrambling. Knowles and Jones Canyons offer visitors a true wilderness experience, with outstanding opportunities for solitude and a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.
The Colorado River bisects the
McInnis Canyons National Conservation Areaand forms the northern boundary of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness as it winds its way through Horsethief Canyonand Ruby Canyon. The river itself is not a part of the wilderness, however floaters are able to hike up many of the main canyons of the area including Rattlesnake Canyon, Moore Canyon, Mee Canyon, and Knowles Canyon. The most popular put in to float this section of the river is the Loma boat launch in Loma, Colorado. Most river users take out in Westwater, Utah, although some continue on through the Class III and IV rapids of Westwater Canyon (permit required). Rattlesnake Canyon, with its nine arches, is the second largest concentration of natural arches in the country [ [http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/mcnca/recreation/hiking/rattlesnakecyn0.html Hiking Rattlesnake Canyon] ] .
* Lynna P. Howard, "Utah's Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide" (Westcliffe Publishers, 2005) ISBN 1-56579-388-9
National Wilderness Preservation System
List of U.S. Wilderness Areas
* [http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&wname=Black%20Ridge%20Canyons Wilderness.net: Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness]
* [http://www.co.blm.gov/mcnca/wildernesshp.htm BLM Colorado: Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness]
* [http://www.co.blm.gov/mcnca/index.htm BLM Colorado: McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area]
* [http://local.google.com/maps?hl=en&t=h&ll=39.112481,-108.924637&spn=0.246674,0.462799&t=h Google Maps satellite view]
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