Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dolores River at Slick Rock

Slick Rock is one of five boat launch sites along the lower Dolores River in southwest Colorado. It is 28 river miles below Dove Creek and 14 river miles above Big Gypsum Valley. On the road, it is 22 miles east of Dove Creek on Highway 141.

The Slick Rock site is the only one of the five launch sites that is on private property and there is a fee to park there. About 1 mile further east on Highway 141 there is a pull over point with an old road that descends to the river bank and provides about 1.3 miles of trail along the Dolores River. The area with the trail is on the BLM managed land.

This trail is slightly upstream of the boat launch point and travels further upstream. The Dolores River flows alongside Highway 141 from the trail down to the launch. The flow of the Lower Dolores River is controlled at the McPhee Dam about 60 river miles upstream.

During the time period that I hiked the water release had been steady at 70 cfs. During late July local showers could cause temporary increases in flow. I noticed that the flow 50 miles downstream at Bedrock was steady at about 52 cfs during my hike but shot up to 170 cfs later in the afternoon, before gradually decreasing.
The trail descends to cross a dry creek bed and then passes through a gate. A sign on the gate reminds visitors not to disturb archaeological resources. The Dolores River is very silty here after leaving the Dove Creek area still very clear. There appears to be a lot of willows along the bank but not much other riparian habitat. I checked the large boulders along the way for petroglyphs and kept an eye out for ruins sites but I didn't notice anything.

The east side of the Dolores River next to the trail is steep and rocky while the opposite side is grassy with mild slopes. There appears to be a trail on the other side of the river that continues further upstream. After about 1.3 miles and 0:35 minutes of hiking the trail fizzles out. My total hike took 1:10 hours for 2.6 miles on an 86 F degree late July day.

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