The 210,172-acre Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area, which includes the 66,280-acre Dominguez Canyon Wilderness, was created by the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act and is part of the Bureau of Land Management's National Conservation Lands. Elevations in the NCA are approximately 4,800 to 8,200 feet.
Known for its breathtaking scenery, the Dominguez-Escalante NCA is a fine example of the spectacular canyon country of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Red-rock canyons and sandstone bluffs hold geological and paleontological resources spanning 600 million years, as well as many cultural and historic sites. The Ute Tribes today consider these pinyon-juniper–covered lands an important connection to their ancestral past.
The Escalante, Cottonwood, Little Dominguez and Big Dominguez Creeks cascade through sandstone canyon walls that drain the eastern Uncompahgre Plateau. Unaweep Canyon on the northern boundary of the NCA contains globally significant geological resources.
Nearly 30 miles of the Gunnison River flow through the Dominguez-Escalante NCA, supporting fish, wildlife and recreational resources. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail, a 19th Century land trade route, also passes through it. A variety of wildlife call the area home, including desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, golden eagle, turkey, elk, mountain lion, black bear, and the collared lizard. There are 115 miles of streams and rivers in the NCA, and there is habitat suitable for 52 protected species of animals and plants.