McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area delights adventure seekers
Relax. Unwind. Discover a new trail or plan a weekend float trip.
The wide open spaces and the opportunity to enjoy a range of activities in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area are a delight for adventure seekers.
The 123,000-acre swath of public lands in Fruita’s backyard and west of Grand Junction along Interstate 70, is one of the area’s best-kept secrets for those seeking any number of rugged, outdoor escapades.
Opportunities in the vast expanse of sandstone cliffs, rock bridges and sheer canyon faces include camping, rafting, hiking, biking, horseback riding, hunting and investigating dinosaur fossils.
If you only have a few hours, wake up with the sun and head to Devil’s Canyon. This trail system offers some of the area’s best bang for your hiking buck as visitors can soak in stunning red rock canyons and have a good chance at spotting wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for a rustic, preserved mining shack.
Or, take the leisurely route. With a little more planning, linger on one of the calmest stretches of the Colorado River along the Ruby Horsethief Canyon. Gather your friends, rent a boat and pack some meals. Get to the river put-in early and sign up for a campsite.
Being a conservation area means this U.S. Bureau of Land Management land is managed to accommodate a multitude of uses, but will never be used for commercial drilling.
“It’s kind of a haven for recreation,” said Joe Neuhof, director of Colorado Canyons Association, a friends-of-public-lands group that includes McInnis Canyons. “There’s something Wild West about the area that you don’t get when there’s a visitor center.”
The McInnis Canyons area also accommodates livestock grazing and motorized vehicle use in some areas.
The Rabbit Valley area, accessible from Exit 2 off Interstate 70, is popular with off-road vehicle users.
A conservation area is managed differently than a national park or monument in that it does not have official signage, government structures and some limits on the land’s use.
Bring binoculars and your camera as area wildlife include big horn sheep, peregrine falcons, antelope, deer and elk.