Roaming wild and free
Watching wild horses on Little Book Cliffs a thing of beauty
Tucked behind the majestic Bookcliffs, near the back side of Mount Garfield and just a few miles from Interstate 70, horses roam free.
This wild bunch has a sliver of parched land they call home.
On this Sunday, four wild horses were grazing high up on a hillside, munching on whatever they could find, living the life of wild horses.
Oblivious to me and any other distractions around them, the horses just did their thing, grazing in the warm sunshine of late summer.
The Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area is only about 15 miles from Grand Junction, west of the Cameo exit at mile marker 46 on I-70. The area encompasses more than 36,000 acres of land, some rugged, some desolate, some with a combined desert and mountain beauty.
It’s a place where a number of wild horses call home.
The wild horse parking area is only a couple of miles up the dirt road from the Cameo exit. The hike to see the valley is only a few hundred yards, then there are trails that take you deeper into the valley.
I came here to see wild horses, but I had no expectations.
The one thing people should realize if they make this trek and have this quest — these horses are wild. There are no guarantees that you will see any wild horses.
This was reinforced when I passed a man frustrated that he didn’t see a single one. He grumbled and mumbled about driving out of his way so his daughter could see wild horses.
It’s not a zoo!
After a short hike, it looked like I, too, would head for home without spotting a single elusive equine. But I decided to keep going, hiking deeper into the valley.
This is not a very pretty hike. Yes, it’s an easy hike, but not much to look at. People don’t come here for a pleasant hike, they come for the chance to see wild horses.
I hiked and looked, looked and hiked. Nothing.
Then I passed a couple who pointed to the northwest. Sure enough, there they were. Four wild horses blending into the landscapes like rocks.
Here’s a tip that eluded me: Bring binoculars. These wild ones are difficult to spot.
When I saw a slight movement, I headed that way. I would have never seen them without help. Dark specks in the distance were all I could see.
I hiked across the dry gully and headed up the rocky hillside.
The last thing I wanted was to spook these horses and become an intruder in their territory, so I planned to keep my distance.
Then I saw them. A majestic black horse grazing with a two others — a paint and another the color known as dun.
I would later spot another nearby black horse who preferred to roam and graze alone.
I crept a little closer and the sleek black horse calmly looked up and evaluated my presence. Unfazed by me or my camera, and sensing no danger, the horse went back to grazing.
My presence didn’t bother any of them. Undoubtably, they’ve seen their fair share of people.
I was a fascinated by this unique sight.
Even though they were just horses, rather good-looking, healthy horses for living in the wild, they were similar to the kind you can see in any pasture around the Western Slope.
But these are wild horses.
There was something oddly fascinating just watching them graze and wander around the hillside.
There was nothing exciting or overly enthralling about how they spent this afternoon, but I sat and watched them.
It’s a pretty cool scene. Four wild horses just hanging out and being wild and free.
And remember, if you go, this is not a zoo. This area is home to wild horses.