Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness on the northwest flank of the Uncompahgre Plateau is characterized by the high, east-west trending Black Ridge dissected by seven major red rock canyon systems, draining into the Colorado River. 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 patina. Canyons may reach a depth of almost 1,000 feet, forming spectacular redrock cliffs. Spring runoff and summer thunderstorms create glistening waterfalls and plunge pools. The area contains the second largest concentration of natural arches in the world. Vegetation in the meandering canyon bottoms include pinyon-juniper, grasses, and cottonwoods, willow and box elder. The upland mesas contain a dense stands of pinyon-juniper with some sagebrush parks. 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.
From the Pollock Bench TH ; my track recording came out at 13.8 miles, I went up through the last arch on the trail to reach another short connector trail, to make a loop of the end instead of backtracking 2.2 miles, it is less than a mile back to the main trail. Took me less than 6 hours total to complete the entire trail (breaks included). Loved every part of it and the abundant wildlife was phenomenal. Did not see or hear another person today, very peaceful. Trail is a bit tough to follow but as long as you follow the cairns you will make out fine. The sandy soil, no shade, and searching for the correct way is what made it difficult for me in my opinion, drained a lot of energy. Overall absolutely fantastic gem of a hike with no fee, public land, go use it!!!
This is a stunning and solitary hike. There are two ways to hike to Rattlesnake Arches. The best is from the Pollock Bench trail head near Fruita. This is a long and strenuous hike, traversing two canyons, with lots of elevation change and some scrambles. The trail would be difficult to keep if it were not for the numerous helpful rock cairns. This is a 15.5 mile in and out hike. Leave early and plan on taking the whole day to complete.
The second way is to drive to the trail head inside the Colorado National Monument Park. Take the incredibly scenic Rim Rock Rd to the Black Ridge Rd, and then to either the Upper or Lower Rattlesnake Arches Rd, depending on the season. Ask the park ranger for details. This is a 12 mile rugged road and requires a 4 wheel-drive vehicle with good clearance. In contrast to the hike from the Pollock Bench trail head, the hike from here is an easy 5 mile in and out hike with only moderate elevation change.
this is a 15.5 mile hike ( not 5 miles). there is a lot of good information on the Grand Junction website (http://visitgrandjunction.com/rattlesnake-arches-loop?utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fm.visitgrandjunction.com%2Fhiking-trails). there are a couple of areas crossing crevases where you have to rock scramble so keep a close eye out for the trail marking cairns. we also felt the AllTrails map open with our "location" GPS turned on so that we could backtrack when we got off trail and look for the cairn we missed. plan on 5-6 hours. it was beautiful weather in October and the fall colors combined with the rock formations was outstanding.
Amber M. on Rattlesnake Arches Trail
Hot as shit! Bring lots of water!! It took three attempts to get to this beauty!!! Not a drop of water in sight but wind felt amazing!
Awesome hike!!!! I'm visiting from Missouri not really a hiker back home but heard about this and had to do it and loved it!! I consider myself in pretty good shape but this hike sticks it to you!! Very steep upward climbs up through rocks and loose gravel with nothing on sides so complete drop off on sides so be very careful!! Two ares where it plateaus off for some good resting areas for a break and snacks and you can take in the scene!!! Great pictures opportunities all the way through I went during fall and the colors at the bottom was just breath taking!! Once you make it to the top sit back and enjoy the view it is absolutely gorgeous!!! Take your time on the way down very steep with loose rock can cause some serious slipping but just take your time and pay attention and you'll be fine!!! Worth the time spent about 5 hours hiking and taking pictures. Gods luck and enjoy!!!
Phyllis M. on Rattlesnake Arches Trail
Couldn't quite get the car all the way to the trailhead as there is a shelf of rock across the road that requires high clearance. Therefore, I hiked an additional half mile to the trailhead. I chose the lower trail out to the end past many arches. It was an easy trail for me and my medium sized dog. It was well marked the whole way. The arches were rather nice, and I got some good pictures. I could have taken a shortcut back at the end through a climbable arch... saw some hikers coming down. But I went a ways up and decided it was really too steep and slick for my sense of safety. Therefore, I hiked back the long way. Good excercise and I enjoyed seeing the arches again in the afternoon light.
Great hike to 7 arches. You can hike the loop around the base of the arches or hike on top of the plateau and see them from the top. You could hike this year 'round if there is no snow/ice. A couple of spots would be tough for dogs and you'd have to lift them over edges (with dropoff below) about shoulder high.