Rocky Mountain Region
Tucked into the southwest corner of Colorado next to the Utah border is a beautiful river canyon. You won’t find it in guidebooks, and on maps it appears as a tiny blue squiggle. The Dolores River Canyon is rugged, remote, and private. You can ride all day without meeting another soul. There’s nothing to remind you of modern-day civilization. You can step back in time and ride like the pioneers.
Sun Canyon Ranch
Although the canyon is remote, you can explore it from Sun Canyon Ranch, which our family owns. We have a Southwestern-style, three-bedroom ranch house, if you’d like to return to luxury at the end of the day. We also have a campground with full hookups for your living-quarters trailer, plus a bed-and-breakfast room in our modern stable, and primitive camping.
For your horses, we have indoor stalls and outdoor paddocks. We’ll watch your horses for you if you’d like to sightsee on foot. After your ride, relax in our hot tub as you watch the sun set behind the Abahjo Mountains in Utah. Or, drink a glass of wine under the arbor and enjoy the fireplace.
Trails on the canyon rim provide mostly easy riding. More adventurous riders may want to go down onto the benches that jut out along the canyon rim. Most of the bench trails were created by miners. They loop back to the main road, so the miner didn’t have to turn around to get back to camp.
While exploring the benches, we found one so rugged and untamed it didn’t have a name. We dubbed it “Infinitair,” because it’s literally “infinite air.” You start the ride to this area riding through grassy meadows, under ponderosa pines. Once you turn the corner and start down the bench, you glimpse canyon views through the trees.
Once the trail narrows and starts to descend, tie your horses in the shade of ancient spruce tress, and hike to the edge of the bench for a breathtaking view. You’ll see the canyon and river below from all directions, including the point where the river bends around a pyramid formation. Follow the river with your eyes as it turns to the west, to an area called the gooseneck.
Looking north, you can see for hundreds of miles to Disappointment Valley. Early settlers expected this valley to be rich farmland, but found instead that it was a collapsed salt dome. They gave the valley a name reflecting their mood, and moved on.
“Infinitair” is only one of the many trails you’ll find along the Delores River Canyon rim. There are hundreds of miles of trails along the rim, and more inside the canyon, beside the river. Last winter, we had wonderful moisture in southwestern Colorado, and our summer is beautiful. Our ponds are full, and the trees green and fragrant.
If you want to ride like the early explorers, this is an excellent time to visit the Dolores River Canyon.
For more information on Sun Canyon Ranch, call (866) 737-3377, or visit www.suncanyonranch.com.