Dominguez Canyon Wilderness

Activities: Backpacking, hiking, horseback riding, camping and wildlife viewing. Dominguez Canyon Wilderness offers scenic canyons and mesas carved in sandstone, cascading streams, waterfalls, spectacular geologic features, desert bighorn sheep, Native American rock art and historic structures from early mining settlements. The Big Dominguez Trail accesses some of the most popular areas of the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness, including waterfalls and rock art. The most common access is from the Bridgeport Trailhead or from the Gunnison River at the mouth of Big Dominguez Canyon. The upper end of Big Dominguez Canyon can be accessed on a primitive trail from a small trailhead near the Big Dominguez Campground. There is no maintained trail from this trailhead through the canyon to the Gunnison River. Adventurous travelers can make a large loop using Big and Little Dominguez Canyons. This trip can take several days to a week, depending on how much exploring you plan to do. CAUTION: Crossing between Little Dominguez Creek and Big Dominguez Creek requires advanced route finding skills, as there is no defined trail. This route is not recommended for novice hikers. Visitors can also reach the Wilderness on the south end, via Escalante Canyon.

Cactus Park

Activities: Mountain biking and OHV riding on existing roads and trails, hiking and horseback riding. Although it may be small in size, this area protects an important gravel deposit. The physical characteristics of the gravel provide geologic evidence that the ancestral Gunnison River once flowed through the Cactus Park and the Unaweep Canyon area. Some areas of Cactus Park also provide habitat for Desert bighorn sheep. Cactus Park includes miles of existing routes, trails and roads for motorized recreation, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. The Tabeguache Trail and Nine Mile Hill are popular sites for motorized recreationists and mountain bikers. Note: Mountain bikes or high clearance vehicles are required on the Tabeguache Trail (see the Tabeguache Trail brochure for more information).

Escalante Canyon

Activities: Boating, camping and hiking Beautiful scenery, hidden rock art and solitude bring visitors to this 800-foot-deep canyon. Expect Class I and II water. The 39-mile trip takes 11 to 16 hours and offers ample opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing and exploring. Dominguez Canyon is a popular stop along the way, with primitive camping, a hike up Big Dominguez Canyon, hidden rock art and a breathtaking waterfall. Please check the current streamflow data (available online at and weather before your boat trip.

River Access Points:
Escalante Put-In
Bridgeport Put-In/Take-Out
Whitewater Put-In/Take-Out*
Redlands Dam Take-Out (outside the NCA Boundary)

Activities: Day-use picnicking, camping, hiking, wilderness access, driving All-Terrain Vehicles and motorcycles on existing roads and trails, historic touring and exploring. This deep red-rock canyon contains sensitive plant species, natural seeps and several globally unique
plants including beautiful hanging gardens of small-flowered columbine and Eastwood’s monkey flower, protected in the Escalante Canyon Area of Critical Environmental Concern. A 15-mile county road offers visitors a trip back to pioneer days through Escalante Canyon’s “Red Hole in Time” (popularized by local author Muriel Marshall). The road provides easy vehicle and viewing access to historic cabins and trails, rock walls with early settler and Native American inscriptions and spectacular geologic formations. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail also passes near the NCA. The Potholes Recreation Site, located 12 miles up Escalante Canyon, offers picnic tables and shade shelters with several designated overnight camping sites nearby.

CAUTION: Hidden currents found in the potholes formations can catch and keep you underwater, regardless of river flows or your swimming skills. Jumping and diving in the potholes is prohibited.