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Big Dominguez Canyon

Intermediate
 4.6 (19)

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 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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Janice Shepherd

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 19 votes

#163

Overall
  4.6 from 19 votes
5 Star
68%
4 Star
26%
3 Star
5%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#41

in Colorado

#163

Overall
168 Views Last Month
8,065 Since Apr 23, 2015
Intermediate

6%
6%
88%
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Photos

Red cliffs, blue sky and beautiful fall colors.
Apr 23, 2015 near Clifton, CO

Weather


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Check-Ins

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
Dec 21, 2019
Stew Michaels
Sep 2, 2019
Tyler Hincy
7mi
Jun 1, 2019
Savannah Weaver
Mostly explored rather than made headway on the trail. Super cool wilderness. Minimal tree cover though so gets very hot.