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Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness

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A bright green lizard sunning itself on a large gray boulder.
Library image #296: Collared lizard


The United States Congress designated the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness (map) in 2000 and it now has a total of 75,479 acres. Colorado contains approximately 70,380 acres. Utah contains approximately 5,099 acres. It is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.


Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, on the northwest flank of the Uncompahgre Plateau, is characterized by the high, east-west trending Black Ridge which is dissected by seven major red rock canyon systems that drain into the Colorado River. Canyons vary in length from several miles to twelve miles in length and may contain interesting side canyons. Elevations range form 4,700 to 6,800 feet. 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.

Planning to Visit the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness?

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 Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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