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McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area

Rattlesnake Canyon/Arches Trail

Using Undeveloped Camp Sites

ELEVATION CHANGE:  Upper Trailhead:  460' (5800' - 5420')
                                    Pollock Bench:  820' (4600' - 5420')

LOCATION:  Upper Trailhead:  28 miles southwest of Grand Junction
                    Pollock Bench:  10 miles west of Grand Junction

LENGTH:  Pollock Bench:  11 miles round trip (including the Arches Trail 3.2 miles)
                Lower Loop: 4.2 miles

DIFFICULTY:  Pollock Bench:  Moderate to Strenuous

APPROXIMATE TIME TO COMPLETE:  Upper Trailhead:  2 hrs
                                                            Pollock Bench:  8 hrs, best done as an overnight trip

SEASON:  April - November

FACILITIES:  Restroom at Pollock Bench trailhead.  Upper trailhead and Colorado River access have no facilities.

DRINKING WATER:     None. Plan to pack in a minimum of 1 gallon per person, per day.

CAMPING:   Floaters camping overnight are required to have portable toilets and firepans or stoves to cook on.   Backpackers are encouraged to use stoves while back country camping, to use preexisting camp sites whenever possible.   NOTE:  Overnight camping is prohibited in and around the arches, along the cherry stem road (last 1.5 miles of access road), and the parking area at the trailhead.  Use of firepans and/or stoves may be prohibited during high fire danger periods.

DIRECTIONS:   Upper Trailhead (most popular).  From Grand Junction - take I-70 west to the Fruita Exit (#19).  Turn left at off ramp and cross back over I-70 and follow the signs to Colorado National Monument (CNM).  Travel 11 miles from CNM entrance station, go right at the Glade Park Store turn off sign.  Travel .2 miles to the "Black Ridge Access Roads".  Stay on the Black Ridge access road for 13 miles to the Rattlesnake Arches trailhead.  CAUTION:  High clearance 4X4 vehicles are required for last 1.5 miles of road to trailhead because of steep grades.   NOTE:  There are 2 roads leading to the Arches Trailhead, the Upper Road and the Lower Road.  Use of these roads is seasonally rotated for motorized travel.   The Upper Road is open from April 15 - August 15 and the Lower Road from August 15 - February 15.   From February 15 - April 15 no motorized travel allowed on either road.   CAUTION:  If the road appears wet, do not attempt to travel on it.   NOTE:   Rattlesnake Canyon Arches trail is part of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, no motorized or mechanized travel is allowed off the Upper or Lower roads.  

Pollock Bench:   From Grand Junction, take I-70 west to the Fruita exit (#19), turn left at off ramp and cross back over I-70 and go 1.5 miles to Kingsview Estates.  Turn right into the subdivision and stay on the main road until it turns to a dirt road.  Go approximately 6 miles to parking area/trailhead on the left side of the road.  Follow the Pollock Bench trail until you come to a junction on the trail, going left - will take you to Pollock Canyon or going right will take you to Rattlesnake Canyon/Rattlesnake Arches trail. The trail is marked by rock cairns (small rocks stacked atop each other) and white arrows. The trail isn't heavily used but is fairly well defined.  Best done during cooler weather or as an overnight trip.  Creeks in the area usually have little to no water in them.  Plan to pack your water in.  This is a physically strenuous trail, lots of ups and downs.  

Colorado River:   3.3 miles down river from the Loma boat launch on river left is the mouth of Rattlesnake Canyon. This is a steep, strenuous < game trail. Travel up the canyon approximately 1.5 miles in the east drainage, steep ascent up the canyon to connect to the Arches Loop Trail.

ATTRACTIONS:   Rattlesnake Canyon/Arches trail is located within the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness.  Rattlesnake Canyon with its nine arches, is the second largest concentration of natural arches in the country.  Extensive canyons and majestic uplands offer visitors spectacular scenery and solitude.  The areas pinyon/juniper, sagebrush and riparian vegetation provide habitat for various wildlife species including deer, mountain lion and a herd of bighorn sheep as well as bald and golden eagles.