The McInnis Canyon Conservation Area is totally awesome, although I didn't really know that until my brother, Doug,  and I decided to do a little hiking and camping there.

McInnis Canyon is 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.

Accessing McInnis Canyon

The first thing you need to know is that the McInnis Canyon Conservation 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, horseback riders, and hikers. However, we encountered only a handful of people.

There Is A Road and A Trail

There is a pretty good road that takes you into the various campsites and trailheads,  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. One of the lessons we learned is this. Trail does not mean road.

Primitive Camping

We camped at the Castle Rocks campground, 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.

The Hike

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 oftentimes 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 farther 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.

Check out the photos below from our hike.

McInnis Canyons Hike Exceeds Expectations

Western Colorado is like one gigantic playground with all kinds of cool places to visit and have fun. A popular place on Colorado's western edge is the McInnis Canyon Wilderness Area just off of I-70 near the Colorado/Utah border. Some folks go there to ride motorbikes, while others go there for horseback riding. Some of us just go there to hike the western Colorado desert. Here's a look at my experience in the wilderness.

Gallery Credit: Zane Mathews

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