Spring in Dominguez Canyon

Dominguez Canyon was a gem of a place I explored a few years ago.

A bit of Utah only four hours from my home.

A place to enjoy, savor, and explore when the high country is full of snow.

Red rocks beckon. The smell of sage gives the desert air a pungent smell. Wildflowers dot the canyon floors. And the sheer cliffs of the canyon wall pull a person further and further up the canyon.

I love red rock country. And visit it when I can.

Time to again to go to Dominguez Canyon.

On this trip would be Rachel and Mike. Two friends of mine who are new to Colorado. And seem to enjoy the little nooks and crannies of Colorado I’ve discovered over the years and enjoy sharing with friends.

At the trailhead

We crossed the river and made our way up the canyon.

Some of the local wildlife greeted us as we made our way to the mouth of the canyons.

Soon we were in the canyon proper.

Not wanting to cross the mesa with an impending storm brewing, we decided to make camp a little early.

We found an exquisite area for camping.

Secluded, protected, and lush with a large pool nearby.

The following morning we continued up Little Dominguez Canyon.

The high desert canyon wildflowers continued to be striking.

We did a little backtracking down the canyon.

We discussed the possibility of an off-trail route across a mesa between Little and Big Dominguez Canyons and found an obvious exit point.

We savored the views into the canyons below.

We had to look for an exit point, though.  As tempting as it was, we could not stay above the canyon forever.

Two potential exit points had short, but very steep cliffs that did not show up on the contours of the map.

We spotted a possible exit point after some more scouting along the canyon rim.  Mike even noticed a cairned route…much to everyone’s surprise.

We descended to the canyon floor of Big Dominguez.  We now cruised along a well-trafficked trail that sees much day hiking use.

We soon started to leave the canyon proper and again walk along the Gunni river.

We reached the trailhead, gratefully donned cotton and sandals, and made our way back to The Front Range.

Another satisfying trip completed in always magical Colorado Plateau.

All the photos

UPDATE OCTOBER 2021 – Since this route is somewhat well-known versus almost a decade ago, I think it’s responsible for noting some changes since my earlier trip report that still gets some traffic, if not as much as AllTrails nowadays. 🙂  Please see the updated information on a trip Joan and I did in October 2021. In short, a lot more signage, and some more regulations concerning wag bags, and we found a non-technical descent into Little Dominguez Canyon.

UPDATE APRIL 2022 – This past weekend, I hiked the upper reaches up Little Dominguez, and I found the NatGeo map reasonably accurate of the track’s location in the past. The desiccated cow patties formed cairns that made finding the old stock trail reasonably easy with minimal bushwhacking to where the “Black Point” trail leaves the canyon on an obvious old pack road. Joan and I often follow old stock paths, often not on current maps, and the trick is to think where a horse and cattle would comfortably travel.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Drew Smith
Drew Smith
4 years ago

I did this loop the first week of Nov 2019. The upper portion of Little Dominguez Canyon. was a very tough bushwhack. It took me nearly two days to thrash through the length of the canyon. I suspect it has become considerably more overgrown since Paul posted this. It is a fine shoulder season loop, but be prepared to crawl through Gambel Oak thickets and scramble on steep canyon sidewalls. Trip report here https://drewsmithblog.com/2019/11/losing-the-highway-dominguez-canyon-loop/

Drew Smith
Drew Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

Yeah, I think it was the wet spring this year. The canyon walls and streambank were heavily gullied and eroded, and it looked pretty fresh.