Guided wilderness hikes are available this fall from the Bureau of Land Management and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.
The free hikes focus on exploring more remote Wilderness Study Areas, said museum manager Ray O’Neil.
“They don’t get visited as much. This is a great opportunity to visit with a knowledgeable guide and learn about wilderness study areas,” he said.
Space is limited. Call (970) 882-5600 to sign up during business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Participants should bring a sack lunch, plenty of water, sun protection and a sense of adventure. Prepare to carpool, and bring a four-wheel drive vehicle.
- Sept. 9: Weber Mountain WSA, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The hike is 5 miles round trip and reaches the summit. Meet at the south end of Boyle Park in Mancos. The route is rated “difficult in steep terrain.” The guide is BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Jeff Morris.
- Sept. 16: Menefee Mountain WSA, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meet at the south end of Boyle Park in Mancos. The hike is 2 to 3 miles round trip through moderate terrain in a burn area along a two-track road. The guide is recreation planner Jeff Morris.
- Sept. 28: Cahone WSA, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., 4 miles round trip on an old dirt road. Meet at the Pleasant View Post Office, 26070 U.S. Highway 491, Pleasant View. Park near the dumpster in the back. Marian Rohman, a Canyons of the Ancients National Monument volunteer, botanist and archaeologist, will lead the hike.
The 4-mile hike follows an old dirt road and goes cross-country through some brush and juniper woodland. Hikers will visit a walled in spring, see unique species of golden blooming rabbit brush and visit historic and prehistoric archaeological sites. Rohman and her husband, Peter Rohman, have been conducting botanical surveys throughout the monument for decades. She will discuss how the concept of wilderness influences their work.
After meeting at the post office, people will carpool to the Cahone WSA. The gravel road into the WSA entrance is accessible to two-wheel drive vehicles. The hike may be canceled if there is heavy rain. Guides will assess weather conditions on Sept. 27 to make the final call whether to proceed or cancel. Participants will be contacted if the hike is canceled.
- Oct. 22 Cross Canyon WSA, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The hike is 5 miles round trip. Meet at the post office in Lewis, 18794 U.S. Highway 491.
The 5-mile hike is on nearly level ground, with several shallow crossings of Cross Creek, which may or may not have water in it at this time of year. The hike passes through cottonwood tree groves.
The hike will be led by Southwest Colorado Canyons Alliance board member Chris Barns. Barns retired in 2015 as the BLM’s representative at the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, was the lead author of the BLM’s Wilderness and Wilderness Study Area policies and has co-authored several law journal articles about wilderness stewardship and history. He will discuss the establishment, management and differences between Designated Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas during the hike.
The hike may be canceled if there is heavy rain. Guides will assess weather conditions on Sept. 27 to make the final call whether to proceed or cancel. Participants will be contacted if the hike is canceled.
From 8 to 10 p.m. Sept. 22, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument will host a free Star Party for the Autumn Equinox at the Visitor’s Center, located on Colorado Highway 184, 3 miles west of Dolores.
The family-friendly event explores human connections to the stars, constellations and celestial objects.
The guest speaker will be archaeologist Mary Weahkee of the Santa Clara Pueblo. Weahkee works as an archaeologist for the state of New Mexico and will discuss bridging the gap between cultures using the sky as a common experience.
Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, the Whirlpool Galaxy and Ring Nebula will be visible and highlighted by the telescopes. Participants can bring telescopes, binoculars, red lens flashlights and questions.
The Society for Cultural Astronomy in the American Southwest and San Juan Mountains Association are co-hosting the event. If the weather is unfavorable, presentations will be moved indoors.