Best Trails in Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

17 reviews

#9 of 43 Wildernesses in Colorado

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

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.