The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness displays an array of ecosystems, ranging from upper Sonoran piñon-juniper desert along the Gunnison River, to Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine to aspen at higher elevations. Dominguez Canyon Wilderness consists of two major canyon systems, Big Dominguez and Little Dominguez. The canyons drain the northeastern corner of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Little Dominguez is the longer of the two at approximately 12 miles in length. It joins the larger Big Dominguez Canyon a little over a mile before their confluence with the Gunnison River.
The area possesses outstanding geological features, spectacular scenery, ecological diversity, two cascading mountain streams and opportunities for solitude and primitive unconfined recreation. The terrain is characterized by large mesas dissected by deep red slick-rock canyons and arroyos. The area provides valuable wildlife habitat for desert bighorn sheep, deer, elk, mountain lion, black bear, wild turkey and chukar.
Fishing is year round in Big Dominguez Creek. Plenty of other recreational opportunities are available for your enjoyment such as, camping, hiking, horseback riding and don't forget your camera!
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness.
The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness is located 29 miles southeast of Grand Junction.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 - Public law 111-11 (3/30/2009) An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.
FACILITIES: Only available facilities are at Big Dominguez Campground (outside the wilderness), toilets (wheelchair accessible), tables and grills.
DRINKING/STREAM WATER: No fresh drinking water available. Big Dominguez Creek runs year round except during extreme drought periods. It is highly recommended that a water filtration system be used for all drinking water. If you pack in water, plan to pack in 1 gallon per person, per day.
DIRECTIONS: There are 4 access points to Dominguez Canyon Wilderness - Bridgeport footbridge, Big Dominguez Campground, Cactus Park Trail or by floating the Gunnison River.
Bridgeport Footbridge: From Grand Junction, travel south on Hwy 50 for approximately 17 miles to the Bridgeport Rd turnoff (CO Rd 39.50) turn right. It's 4.5 miles on the Bridgeport Rd to the parking area. The footbridge is 1 mile upriver from the parking area. Note: The footbridge is open to hiking and horseback riding only.
Dominguez Campground: From Grand Junction - travel south on Hwy 50 to Hwy 141 west (7.5 miles), the turnoff will be on your right. Travel 11.5 miles to the Divide Rd turnoff (Forest Service Access Rd) on your left. The gravel/dirt road switchbacks until you reach the top. Once on top stay on the main road until you come to a Y in the road, it's approximately 6 miles to this point, go to the left towards the Dominguez Conservation Area. From this point it's approximately 5 miles to the Big Dominguez Creek Trailhead. Caution: Road becomes extremely hazardous in wet conditions. Watch for rock slides on last 2 miles of road leading to Big Dominguez Campground. We DO NOT recommend taking RVs or travel trailers to the Big Dominguez Campground.
Cactus Park Trailhead: From Grand Junction, head south on Hwy 50 towards Delta, turn right on Hwy 141 west (7.5 miles), the turn off will be on your right. Travel 8 miles to the Cactus park turnoff on your left, it's another 4.5 miles to the Cactus Park trailhead. The last couple of miles will require a high clearance, 4X4 vehicle. From this point, a short, steep, primitive trail drops to the canyon floor.
Gunnison River: From the Escalante River put-in, travel downriver to where the Big Dominguez Creek flows into the Gunnison River about 12 miles, river left. The mouth of the canyon is a popular campsite. Hiking trails leading up in to the drainage will take you into the heart of the wilderness.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.