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


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Map Key

13.7

Miles

22.0

KM

Point to Point

7,117' 2,169 m

High

4,738' 1,444 m

Low

2,440' 744 m

Up

62' 19 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

12%

Max Grade (7°)

Dogs Leashed

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

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.

Description

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 and the road has been regraded, I've driven my Honda Civic to the upper trailhead without problems. Other years the road to the upper parking lot can be a mess and requires high-clearance vehicles. The road to the Bridgeport trailhead is also a good gravel road - be careful around blind corners.

NOTE: The outhouse and large parking lot are set back from the river. The Trail does NOT start directly from this parking lot. Instead walk down the road towards the river and start the hike beside the railroad. Follow this road to the 2nd bridge (the first bridge is private property).

The vast majority of visitors only hike about 5 miles up or down the trail. Doing that part of the 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.

Attempting to hike the whole length of the trail is a much tougher undertaking.

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.

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Janice Shepherd

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 20 votes

#228

Overall
  4.7 from 20 votes
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Trail Rankings

#48

in Colorado

#228

Overall
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10,433 Since Apr 23, 2015
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Photos

Bighorn Sheep abound in Big Dominguez Canyon.
Jun 1, 2022 near Whitewater, CO
One of several nice watering holes in Big Dominguez Canyon.
Jun 1, 2022 near Whitewater, CO
Red cliffs, blue sky and beautiful fall colors.
Apr 23, 2015 near Clifton, CO
Nice water sources in Big Dominguez Canyon.
Jun 1, 2022 near Whitewater, CO
Interesting Petroglyphs in Big Dominguez Canyon.
Jun 1, 2022 near Whitewater, CO
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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 71 days ago
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Check-Ins

May 27, 2022
Elizabeth Johnson
Backpacked to just beyond the pink zone. Beautiful! Petroglyphs, swimming holes, and cacti in bloom 5.5mi
May 22, 2021
Charlie Taliaferro
Serpents w/jennifer 3.7mi — 1h 30m
Sep 27, 2020
Atsuko Ohtake
Jul 25, 2020
Marc Corona
May 24, 2020
Kim W
Cold windy breeze the whole hike, partly cloudy, and really crowded on Memorial Day weekend. 10.3mi — 5h 30m
Apr 26, 2020
Kim W
Trailhead packed, parked alongside road. Outhouse open and clean. Beautiful trail, busier than I expected. We took our time hiking, made many stops. 9mi — 5h 30m
Apr 21, 2020
Janis Wood
4mi — 12h 00m
Dec 25, 2019
Stew Michaels
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