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Big Dominguez Canyon

 4.8 (12)
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13.7 Miles 22.0 Kilometers

2,440' 744 m


-62' -19 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (7°)

7,117' 2,169 m


4,738' 1,444 m


Shared By Janice Shepherd



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A popular and beautiful trail traversing the length of this red sandstone canyon.

Janice Shepherd

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife · Commonly Backpacked

Dogs must be leashed in the lower 5 miles of Big Dominguez and lower 3 miles of Little Dominguez to protect desert bighorn sheep. Read signs at trailhead for possible changes in policy. Bicycles or mechanized equipment of any kind are NOT allowed in wilderness areas.


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 (if you are arriving by boat). The upper end of Big Dominguez Canyon can be accessed from a trailhead at the Big Dominguez Campground which is 11 miles off CO-141 on a good dirt road. When it is dry I've driven my Honda Civic to the upper trailhead without problems. The road to the Bridgeport trailhead is also a good dirt road but should be avoided when wet. The outhouse and parking lot are set back from the river and the hike starts with a hike down the road towards the river to the road beside the railroad. Follow this road to the 2nd bridge (the first bridge is private property).

This hike is fairly easy, whichever end of the canyon you start at. It maintains a mostly steady low gradient with occasional very short steeper parts. There are no crossings of Big Dominguez Creek the entire length from Bridgeport to Dominguez Campground.

If you are lucky you may spot some desert bighorn sheep along the canyon slopes.

As cattle are sometimes being moved through this area it is important to remember to leave gates as you have found them, namely closed if it was closed and open if it was open.

Backcountry camping is permitted in parts of the canyon. Camping by the river is limited to boaters from May 1st through Labor Day. Camping is not permitted in the lower 5 miles of Big Dominguez canyon and 3 miles of Little Dominguez canyon. Many backpackers make a multi day loop around Big and Little Dominguez canyons.

Flora & Fauna

Look up at the cliff sides to see if you can spot a desert bighorn. Look down at the ground to see lots of small lizards. Birds also abound in the canyon and make a very pleasant soundtrack to the hike. You'll see hawks soaring overhead. In the spring to early summer there are wildflowers of many kinds all around.


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Your Check-Ins


May 12, 2018
Taylor Nakamoto
Sep 16, 2017
Sean McCaffrey
Left camp site near cactus park trail intersection at 10:30am.
Sep 15, 2017
Sean McCaffrey
Jul 29, 2017
Derek Jacob
May 27, 2017
Nick V
Absolutely gorgeous trail! I hiked this from the campground at the top of the canyon, and the trail is actually very good and easy to follow. 8mi
Nov 13, 2016
Ernest Shackleton
did little dominguez 8mi

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 12 votes


  4.8 from 12 votes
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4,264 Since Apr 23, 2015
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James Ortmann
Minneapolis, MN
James Ortmann   Minneapolis, MN
Has anyone hiked BDC and linked up with the Upper Bar X trail to loop back to either the Bridgeport or Dominguez trail heads? Nov 24, 2018
Eugene Aufdembrink
Needville, TX
Eugene Aufdembrink   Needville, TX
Is there water in both Big and Little Dominguez canyons say late May? Trying to plan a backpacking trip for week of May 20 2019. Thanks for any input! Dec 29, 2018
When I was in the canyon this year on May 5th there was water in the creek in Big Dominguez. It likely depends on the amount of snow we get this winter. Dec 29, 2018

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