McInnis Canyon Hike Exceeds All Expectations
The McInnis Canyon Conservation Area is totally awesome, although I didn't really know that until Labor Day weekend when my brother, Doug, and I decided to do a little hiking and camping. It's rugged, beautiful, and isolated, and was the perfect spot for a night out. Never mind that earlier in the day we experienced a flat tire about 8 miles in. I will save that story for another time.
The first thing you need to know is that the McInnis Canyon area is huge. It can be accessed via the Monument, or you can take I-70 to exit 2 Rabbit Valley, just before you reach the Utah border. This is the route we took. There are no camping or entrance fees, however, the Bureau of Land Management has rules, restrictions, and guidelines in place. You can get a map and information at the BLM office on H road near Grand Junction Regional Airport.
The area is a popular destination for dirt bikes, four-wheelers, horse back riders, and hikers. However, we encountered only a handful of people.
There is a pretty good road that takes you into the various camp sites and trail heads, however you need to be careful not to get off the road. The Kokopelli Trail runs through the area and it's not a trail that is fun to drive. If you go, do not follow the signs that say "Trail", unless you are on a motorcycle or four-wheeler. This one of the lessons we learned. Trail does not mean road.
We camped at the Castle Rocks camp ground, which is about three miles in. We set up the tent, and built a small fire with the required fire pan. There actually was a restroom facility there and it was decent. It was better than a port-a potty, but a couple of notches down from the Hilton.
In the morning we ventured down to the McDonald Creek Trail Head, a short distance from our camp. To avoid the heat of the day, we started our hike at about 7am, packing plenty of water for what might be a three hour hike.
The trail often times follows a creek bed, which at the time was dry, with a gradual ascent. We took our time, checking out rock formations, lizards, bat dwellings, and even some writing high on a rock wall. I'm not sure if it was graffiti or some sort of communication from a space alien.
The trail was pretty easy to navigate, although the rock formations(seen in the center of the photo above) we were hoping to reach were father away and more difficult to reach than we had imagined. Looking back, we could see how far we'd come. The beehive shaped rock next to our campsite looked tiny, and our legs told us we had traversed long enough, and we headed back.
This was such a small sampling of what the McInnis Canyon has to offer and we are definitely heading back there, now with some experience under our belts, and hopefully a little wiser.