Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hamm Canyon in Big Gypsum Valley

Hamm Canyon is a side canyon on the north side of the Big Gypsum Valley in southwest Colorado. The Big Gypsum Valley is about 34 miles east of Dove Creek on Highway 141. After 8.2 miles west on the Big Gypsum Valley Road, there is a side road near some old corrals that can be used as a trail toward Hamm Canyon.

The Big Gypsum Valley is mostly BLM managed land with some mining activity on the south side. This trail is about 5 miles before the Big Gypsum raft launch site on the Dolores River. There are also some hiking opportunities near the raft launch area.

It is only about 0:20 minutes of hiking across the grassy valley floor to a junction of old roads. One of the old road options turns west and continues for several miles along the base of the rocky cliffs.

I continued north into the canyon for a short distance. There is a pour off point at the head of the canyon. The habitat in the canyon changes from the grassland to Pinon and Juniper forest. I was looking in this area for petroglyphs but didn’t see anything on the canyon walls. This area looks like Wingate Sandstone cliffs sitting on the Chinle layer.

I also looked at several of the large boulders near the mouth of Hamm Canyon to the west. I think there are petroglyphs here somewhere but I didn’t find them. There are other archaeology sites in this area.

In the first mile of the Big Gypsum Valley road I had the luck to see three Pronghorns. I saw this group at about 9:30 AM on July 23, 2012. My hike at Hamm Canyon took 2:10 hours for about 2.5 miles of walking. It was 72 F degrees at 9:50 AM and was 86 F at my 12:00 PM finish.

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