According to a press release dated April 1, the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests will implement a mandatory permit for recreationists in the Weminuche wilderness beginning in 2014.
“Beginning in 2014, the San Juan and Rio Grande National Forests will require recreationists to register prior to entering the Weminuche Wilderness. Registration will consist of a short two-part form available online, at agency offices and major trailheads. An individual or group leader will fill out the form, deposit one part in a box at the trailhead and keep the other part while in the Wilderness. There will be no fees associated with the program, and it will not impose any additional limits on use.”
The national forest managers site the reasons for the changes being: environmental impacts such as “denuded vegetation, overcrowding, and improper disposal of human waste.” The program will be similar to other programs in the West such as the one already in place in the Maroon Bells / Snowmass wilderness area.
The permits will be free and there will be no limits on the number of permits. The permit will consist of a two page form that will be filled out by one person per group. One half of the form is deposited in a trail-side box, while the other is attached to a group member’s backpack. The national forest indicates that the information collected from the permits will be used by forest management to monitor usage of the public lands and to reduce the environmental impacts before the impacts reach a ‘tipping point.’ The National Forest management is holding five public forums to educate and request public input on the registration systems implementation. Below is a copy of the dates and locations of the public forums:
- Creede Community Center Tue, Apr 16, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
- Durango Recreation Center Tue, Apr 23, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
- Silverton Town Hall Thu, Apr 25, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
- Lake City Coursey Annex Wed, May 1, 4 – 6 pm
- Pagosa Community Center Thu, May 2, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
- Vallecito Community Center Tue, May 7, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Weminuche Wilderness Required Registration Information – San Juan / Rio Grande National Forest
The Dominguez Canyon Wilderness protects a series of slick-rock desert canyons and mesas in western Colorado. A pair of creeks, named the Little and Big Dominguez carved a pair of parallel canyons into the Uncompahgre Plateau, an area of geologic significance in the canyon lands of western Colorado. The wilderness area protects the Sonoran pinon-juniper ecosystem at the lower elevations, and ponderosa-aspen forests in the upper elevations to the west. Designated a wilderness in 2009, the Dominguez Canyon Wilderness is entirely managed by the BLM.
Frequented by the Ute Indians, several petroglyphs (rock art) are easily found in the Dominguez Canyons. The petroglyphs as well as other archeological artifacts are a special feature of this wilderness area.
When to Visit
It is best to visit Dominguez Canyon in the fall, winter, spring seasons. During summer temperatures skyrocket into the triple digits.
How to Get Here
Access is not excessively difficult, but somewhat complicated by the geography and it’s proximity to the Gunnison River where few bridges limit the number of roads penetrating the area. The nearest cities and towns are Grand Junction and Delta, Colorado.
- Overnight camping is not permitted near the confluence of the Big and Little Dominguez Creeks. See map below.
- Do not touch or disturb petroglyphs and do not remove archaeological artifacts. Please leave them for others to enjoy.
- Please do not create fires, however if you do create a fire, fire pans are required.
- Special regulations apply for camping near the Dominguez creeks.
- Other regulations may apply. Please check with BLM Grand Junction office.
Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Map
Dominguez Trailhead Map – Click to enlarge
Dominguez Creek Trail – A popular hike is to park at the Bridgeport trailhead on the east side of the Gunnison River. Hike south and cross the railroad tracks and further on the path crosses a footbridge over the Gunnison River. Continue south to the Dominguez Creek Trail. A longer loophike is possible by connecting the Big Dominguez Creek trail to the Little Dominguez Creek trail via Dry Fork and Poison Canyon.
Backpackers: There is water in the Little and Big Dominguez Creeks. Stay on and trail and use low impact camping techniques. No camping is allowed the first few miles into Big and Little Dominguez canyons. There is limited firewood in Dominguez Canyon and fires will char the landscape for a long time. Do not create fires. Use camp stoves instead. If camping near the creeks, follow the special regulations for human waste disposal (backcountry toilets are required).
Nearby Wilderness Areas
Black Ridge Canyon, Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, Black Canyon of the Gunnison Wilderness