Dominguez Canyon

Dominguez Canyon

Page Type Page Type: Album
Additional Information Image Type(s): Hiking, Scenery, Water, Canyoneering


Dominguez Canyon is a spectacular canyon in western Colorado offering a beautiful desert scenery with nice rock formations, year round water source with waterfalls, petroglyphs, primitive stone shelter and many other wonders. I visited this place several times, and keep coming back. I used different trailheads - Cactus Park Trailhead, and Bridgeport Trailhead. If you have only a short time, Bridgeport Trailhead is easier to access and brings you to the petroglyphs faster. 

Cactus Park Trailhead: elevation 6,120 feet

Primitive Stone ShelterPrimitive Stone Shelter
Geology of Dominguez Geology of Dominguez Canyon
Info sign Dominguez-Escalante Wilderness Area
Mushroom RockMushroom Rock Formation

The United States Congress designated the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness in 2009 and it now has a total of 66,260 acres. All of this wilderness is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Since it is a Wilderness area now, the Cactus Park Trailhead is not longer accessible by a 4WD vehicle, you have to hike to get there. I did not measure the distance, but it is a long hike on a rough dirt road. It is the largest BLM roadless area in Colorado. 

another view into the canyonView into the Canyon
Duchess taking a breakDuchess taking a break

Big Dominguez and Little Dominguez Canyons have been carved through the sandstone of the Uncompahgre Plateau over the last 65 million years. For thousands of years Native Americans used these canyons for shelter, hunting, and as a travel corridor to the high country of the Uncompahgre Plateau. The rock art sites, located on the main trail, tell the story of those who came to Dominguez Canyon before us. 
The petroglyphs are Barrier Canyon rock art, dating back two millennia, with some later images of Ute Indians on horseback as well. You'll see depicted hunting weapons knowns as atlatls, Desert Bighorn Sheep, deer, coyotes, migration symbols, and running rivers on large boulders. Please don't touch the rock patina as human contact can degrade the rock art. 

Canyon Rim TrailCanyon Rim Trail - as seen from Cactus Park TH
Detail of petroglyphsPetroglyph detail

TOPO map

Topo Map 

Bridgeport Trailhead

Bridgeport Trailhead is the most easily accessible trailhead for Dominguez Canyon. After reaching the Gunnison River on a good dirt road, there is a parking lot with toilet and signs. The road continues past the gate, which provides access for people living there. There is a new pedestrian bridge built over the Gunnison river, in the past people had to use the private bridge to the ranch or take a boat.

Bridgeport Trailhead: 4,720 feet

Bridgeport TrailheadThe initial section is along railroad and Gunnison River, 0.7 mile distance to the actual TH for Dominguez Canyon
Rafters on Gunnison RiverRafters on Gunnison

Below is a new pedestrian bridge across the Gunnison river. There used to be only an older privately owned bridge, and it was not advised to use it. In the past hikers were advised to use the boat to get across the river - what an adventure!

BridgeportDuchess on a new pedestrian bridge
Along Gunnison RiverOn the other side of the river
Bridge over Gunnison RiverBridge over Gunnison
WaterfallWaterfall on Dominguez Creek

External Links

Dominguez Canyon Wilderness


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