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Book Excerpt Below
The Best In Tent Camping
Colorado, 5th edition
A superb guide and a “must-have” for anyone determined to experience the wilds of Colorado for themselves.” The Midwest Book Review
Dominguez Canyon Campsite
Grand Junction Beauty
2800 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 80006
Bureau of Land Management
Mid-May through mid-October
Each site has
Picnic table, fire ring
First come, first served; no reservation
Vault toilets (No water)
At tent camper parking areas
Restrictions – Pets
On leash only
Restrictions – Fires
In fire rings only
Restrictions – Alcoholic beverages
At campsites only
Restrictions – Vehicles
Restrictions – Other
14-day stay limit
Enjoy the both the red canyons and green forests of the Uncompahgre Plateau from Big Dominguez.
To get there
From Grand Junction, drive southeast on US 50 for 10 miles to Colorado 141 and the town of Whitewater. Turn right on Colorado 141 and follow it for 11.5 miles to Divide Road. Turn left on Divide Road and follow it for 5 miles to a fork in the road. Turn left at the fork. There is a sign and arrow saying ìBig Dominguez Resource Conservation Area. Follow this road 5 miles to Dominguez Campground.
Let’s see ….. mountain biking, canyon hiking, trout fishing, scenic drives, Indian petroglyphs, old mining ghost towns, canoeing the Gunnison River ….. all accessible from a free campground made for tenters that happens to be one of the stateís best. This is Dominguez Canyon. Bureau of Land Management campgrounds are generally less known to the public than national park and forest campgrounds. Once you find this little gem, you will be making return trips.
Drop off the Uncompahgre Plateau a bit and descend into Dominguez Canyon. Deep red cliffs are behind you. Below you, on Big Dominguez Creek, is a dense forest of large cottonwoods, complemented by thickets of willow and alder, making for a very green scene. Across the canyon sage gives way to ponderosa pine and Douglas fir intermingling with pinion and juniper. The air cools as you approach the clear chattering creek. Off to your right is a fenced in grassy area below the cottonwoods.
On the far side of a wood fence, three picnic tables lie astride the cool waters and offer creekside camping. The deep shade and chilled air along the creek makes a great escape from the summer sunand heat of the Colorado River Valley. Farther on, just across the shallow ford of Big Dominguez Creek, lies a single site in the very thick of the cottonwoods.
This campsite is for privacy lovers. Just upstream from this campsite is a small footbridge connecting both sides of the campground. The entrance road rises out of the creek and to your right is a small meadow and parking area. An attractive log fence guards more campsites. The cottonwoods here are smaller, still providing ample shade yet letting campers enjoy the views around them. Small openings in the fence allow campers to access these sites on the far side of the fence, making for tent only camping, where the brush rises high enough to make for campsite privacy.
Three of the five campsites have two picnic tables apiece, allowing for larger parties. One campsite is far back in the woods and looks over a mesa that comes to a point over Big Dominguez Creek and an unnamed side creek merging with Big Dominguez Creek. Two other parties joined me on my stay. The small campground rarely fills, so make your plans and come on up. There is no water provided, though springwater from a pipe is located on the entrance road just above the campground. You could also use the water from Big Dominguez Creek and treat it. Two new vault toilets have been put in on both sides of the creek.
The campground is perched on the edge of the 70,000-acre Big Dominguez Wilderness Study Area. The BLM expects this to ultimately become a full fledged wilderness. One look and youíll agree this place should be preserved. A good way to get a look is the Big Dominguez Trail which starts at the campground. You can head down the canyon and enumerate reasons for preservation. On the lower part of the canyon are Indian petroglyphs, but the best way to access them is from Cactus Park. Watch for the sign for Cactus Park on Colorado 141 as you are heading for the campground, then take the trail toward Triangle Mesa and watch for the right split down to the Big Dominguez creek and the petroglyphs. You can also follow the Smith Point Trail up Dominguez Canyon from the campground and enter the Uncompahgre National Forest.
If you like trout fishing small creeks as much as I do, you’ll love Big Dominguez Creek. Take the Big Dominguez Trail down canyon and simply drop into the creek drainage, then work your way up, secretively I might add, and cast with small spinners. Rainbow trout will positively attack your lure.
If you want to ride in the water instead of walk through it, check with outfitters in Whitewater and Grand Junction. The nearby Gunnison River offers some decent canoeing that is more of a relaxed float than a hair raising ride. Mountain bikers take note that the heart of the 140-mile Tabeguache Trail passes right through this campground. You can take the Dominguez section up to the plateau or drop down toward Cactus Park. Send for a map of the Tabeguache Trail from the BLM office in Grand Junction.
Auto tourists will want to return to CO 141 and drive farther up Unaweep Canyon over toward Gateway. In the mountains east of gateway, on BLM lands, are many old mining sites and former habitations of miners here. Again, inquire at the BLM office for details, you’ll like what they have to offer in this part of the state.