Backpack in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

Details

Distance

4.2 miles

Elevation Gain

1000 ft

Route Type

Loop

Added by Jon Mattrisch

Head out to the Black Ridge Canyon Wilderness and backpack under the stars of Western Colorado. Camp out looking over the natural cliffs and be in almost 100% seclusion as you relax and take in the incredible views.

If you're looking to backpack outside of the highly publicized areas of Colorado (aka the Rockies), head out to Western CO for some amazing experiences. Located 4 hours west of Denver along I-70 is the McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area (NCA). Overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), McInnis Canyon is home to over 120,000 acres of natural wilderness. Within this sprawling land is Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. One thing you must know going into this area though is that there is no access to water. There are no streams nearby nor are there any water stations. Be sure to pack enough water for the length of your stay!

To access these BLM lands, you first have to head through the Colorado National Monument which is operated by the National Park Service. Once you enter the park, you'll need to drive along Rimrock Dr. for about 20 minutes. CAUTION: drive slow along this winding road as it quite literally hugs the sides of the red rock cliffs. After about 11 miles, you'll take a right onto Black Ridge Rd.

From here, you'll head down dirt roads which are best handled by 4-wheel drive vehicles. Follow the signs and head to the Rattlesnake Arches Trailhead. You'll encounter some steep grades, gravel and sand roads, so make sure your vehicle has a high enough clearance and that you are also comfortable traversing this type of terrain.

Once you arrive at the trailhead, park your car, grab you pack and supplies, and head onto the trail. While on the trail, spot an area that you like and head about 100 yards from the trail (a requirement in certain "day use areas" only). From there, set-up your camp, get your dinner cooking, sit back, relax and enjoy the incredible views laid out in front of you.  

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Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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