Rock on at Dominguez-Escalante

Reese and Wyatt on the rocks in Dominguez-Escalante.
Reese and Wyatt on the rocks in Dominguez-Escalante.

My dogs love rocks. They love to climb on them; love to dig under them; love to chase stones that are rolling.

Wyatt and Reese at Bridgeport.

Thus soon after moving to Grand Junction, Colo., the area formerly known as the Bridgeport Basalt Boulder Site became one of their favorite outdoor destinations. Now part of the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area (which, in turn, is part of the more than 2 million acres that received wilderness status via 2009’s Omnibus Public Lands Bill), the land lurks oft-overlooked in the shadow of nearby Colorado National Monument and borders Bridgeport Road and the Bridgeport Trailhead (from which visitors can access the Gunnison River and/or explore the canyon country and Ute petroglyphs to the west).

But for the dogs, it’s the rocks that rock.

Wyatt knows a rolling stone gathers no moss.
Wyatt knows a rolling stone gathers no moss.

The gently rising mesa on the south side of Bridgeport Road is populated with boulders ranging in size from soccer-ball small to Mack-truck massive in formations from scramble-worthy single stones to veritable fields for frolicking. Most of the boulders are basalt, remnants of the area’s volcanic past and erosion-resistant rocks that retained their stature above the slickrock bed of Dominguez Canyon and amid the sporadic formations of Wingate sandstone.

Wyatt and Reese think this would’ve made a sweet backdrop for a John Ford movie.

Boulders are scattered along the mesa’s slopes and across the top all the way to the rim. The mesa’s edge offers spectacular views of Dominguez Canyon, the Gunnison River and the vibrant, high-desert ravines beyond.

Wyatt and Miles above Dominguez Canyon with Grand Mesa peeking through the clouds.
Wyatt and Miles above Dominguez Canyon with Grand Mesa peeking through the clouds.

Fissures funnel winter drainage on the north side of the mesa, and these slices of solitude host a springtime symphony of rhythmic runoff and melodious birds; just background noise to the dogs, who instead devote their attention to clambering the natural jungle gym of the juniper-shaded rock outcroppings.

Miles surveys the terrain at Bridgeport.
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