The Uncompahgre Plateau in west central Colorado certainly is an area worth experiencing. This is a high desert region located along Highway 50 just south of Grand Junction that is fairly easy to access, yet most of the high speed vehicular traffic simply flies on by toward the Black Canyon oF the Gunnison National Park, the central Rockies and south on Highway 550 to points of interest in the San Juan Mountains. The tiny signs marking the conservation area access roads pass by in a blur and it is not till later when researching the vague memory that the opportunity which was missed is realized.
The main feature in the vast wilderness area is Dominguez Canyon, which is where several historic old west ranches are located. This is one place where half of the fun is just getting there, because the scenery along the bumpy dirt road is as majestic as can be. Several creeks run through this lengthy canyon and there are many hidden lush green oasis meadows to be discovered along the way. Wildlife abounds in these areas and Dominguez Canyon actually is one of the best places in Colorado to do some serious high desert bird watching. There are numerous flocks of Chukar to observe, which were introduced from Eurasia during the new world conquest.
Dominguez Canyon is the ancestral home of the Ute Sovereign Nation and many relics of their forefathers can be observed in this large conservation area. Of course this high desert area was explored by its namesake Dominguez-Escalante Spanish priest expedition long before the rest of the Europeans arrived, which adds yet another layer of stories to tell. During the westward expansion is when ranches and outposts entered the picture and one of the remaining remnants of that era is the Captain Smith Cabin.
There is a lot of history involved with the Captain Smith Cabin and researching the material will certainly add plenty of insight when doing a Dominguez Canyon Journey. The old historic cabin has been going through protective renovations the last few years and the site is closed, but a visitor can still walk around the fencing to take a look. This historic site displays how the wild the old west truly was, so be sure to chalk this unique destination high on the list when touring Highway 50 through central Colorado!
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