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Run to Rattlesnake

By Ann Driggers

Last week I enjoyed a beautiful run to see the Rattlesnake Arches in the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, outside of Fruita in the Grand Valley. Just minutes from I70 and adjacent to the Colorado National Monument, this area gives you quick access to the best red rock canyon country in Colorado. Extra bonus is the arches found along the rim of Rattlesnake Canyon which are the highest concentration found outside of Arches National Park. Janis, Holly and I chose to start at the lower trailhead, known as Pollock Bench, so we could log some miles underfoot and take in the incredible scenery along the way.

Lower down the trail traverses a number of mesas and canyons, up and down, with a couple of fun little scrambles and creek crossings. Early spring flowers were out in force, the first act of an incredible show the desert will put on over the next month. A kaleidoscope of color unfolded before us. Set against the cerulean blue sky and red rock walls was a carpet of bright green flecked with vibrant red paintbrush, white primroses, purple milkvetch, yellow daisies, white pepperseed, lavender phlox and blue scorpionweed. It was spectacular! The desert is such a rich environment in the spring.

Having started at the Colorado River and with Rattlesnake Canyon up 1,500 feet higher, we knew we'd have some climbing to do. Sure enough the trail morphed from being very runnable and rolling to a steep, rocky incline.

When we reached the top the views were pretty awesome. The Bookcliffs far off in the distance stretch deep into Utah and in the foreground the Colorado River carves its way through the earth's folds.

After 6 miles we reached Arches Alley where 7 arches line up one after the other along the rim of Rattlesnake Canyon.

We cruised along the trail taking in the sights before it dead ended and we returned the way we came. We were greeted on the homestretch by fields of primroses - a lovely way to end a fifteen mile run.

The whole way we did not see one other person. If solitude amongst beautiful scenery is what you are after (and I don't know who isn't) this trail comes highly recommended.

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