A Guide to Hiking During Hunting Season

Hike year-round, even during hunting season, at places like Colorado National Monument and McInnis Canyons outside of Grand Junction.

There are plenty of safe and scenic places to hike in the Grand Valley during big-game hunting season.

Generally, big-game rifle hunting seasons in the Grand Valley run from around Sept. to Nov. So anywhere you find deer and elk, you're likely to find hunters. If you do hike where big-game may be present, think before you go and wear something with hunter's orange on it to make it easier to be noticed.

If you don’t want to hike where hunters are, however, don't go near deer and elk. Around the Grand Valley, that means hiking in the desert, in Colorado National Monument, or along the Colorado or Gunnison rivers.

Though you’ll likely see a few deer and elk in the desert and along rivers, hunting is not allowed in the Monument and the rivers attract too many people and scare big animals and hunters away.

There are plenty of places in the Grand Valley where hikers can hike and horseback riders can ride without putting themselves in the field with hunters. 

Both the Colorado National Monument and BLM's McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area are located just west and north of town. Within the monument, there are several well-established trails such as Serpent's Trail, Liberty Cap and Corkscrew trails, Ute Canyon, Monument Canyon, the Alcove Trail, the trail to Otto's Bathtub and Old Gordon's Trail.

It’s pretty hard to get lost in the Colorado National Monument, but it can happen. Get a map at a local sporting goods store, or at the visitor's center at the top of the monument. Between the monument and McInnis Canyons, there are a few parcels of private property. It is your responsibility to know where you are. Get the BLM’s Grand Junction Resource Area map that shows private and public property. The BLM office is on H Road across from the airport.

Remember the law of the West: Leave gates the way you found them. If they are closed when you go through, shut them behind you. If they are open, leave them that way. If they say “No Trespassing,” please don’t.

At McInnis Canyons, be sure to check out the trails on Pollock Bench and hike or ride into Pollock Canyon, Rattlesnake Canyon, Flume Canyon or Devil's Canyon, or trek along the Colorado River.

To reach the Pollock Bench trailhead for most of these trails, go west from Grand Junction on I-70 to Fruita (Exit 19). Travel south across the river for 1.3 miles on Colorado Highway 340 to Kings View Estates Subdivision, located directly across the road from Rimrock Adventures. Turn right (west) and go through the subdivision. When the pavement ends, veer to the left around the new Fruita Open Space area and follow the signs toward Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area.

The Pollock Bench trailhead parking lot is 3.3 miles from the subdivision. You’ll pass the Devil’s Canyon trailhead and the Fruita Paleontological Area along the way — both excellent detour attractions.

The Pollock Bench trailhead is on the south (left) side of the road just before you enter the main section of Horsethief Canyon. This parking area is large enough for numerous horse trailers, as this trail is accessible to both hikers and horseback riders. Mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed.