Saturday, June 4, 2016

De Beque, CO (5/29/2016)

De Beque is a small village of about 500 people living on the north side of I-70 some 30 miles east of Grand Junction.  I've passed it several times over the years without even realizing it was there.  Most travelers along the interstate would stop here only if they needed fuel, even though the area around the town is filled with colorful mountains and mesas.  

I came here because I had learned of an area with unusual rock formations, nicknamed "Little Bryce Canyon", and another area called "Goblins" because of its whitish hoodoos.  Both areas were said to be located on a long unpaved road north of De Beque.

Incidentally, the town was named for a Dr. De Beque, who came to the area in the 1880s to start a cattle ranch.  There is a very large ranch operating in the area, called "High Lonesome", but I have no idea if it is connected to the doctor's ranch.

As I entered town, I was surprised to see a sign proclaiming this to be the "Gateway To Wild Horse Country".  There is even a statue of a wild mustang sort of in the center of town.

It didn't take long to find the road leading into the mountains.

This area is known as Dry Fork and the map shows a Dry Fork Church, which I assume is this cabin, the only structure out there other than the ranch buildings.

Just past the church, I spotted a band of horses, but didn't know if they were wild or owned by the ranch.  A BLM sign pointing to that area said "Wild Horse Area", so that settled my question.  Later, I found the ranch horses were kept in a corral.

Some years ago, there was a big controversy over the BLM's proposal to open this area to oil and gas drilling.  BLM withdrew the proposal in 2007 after several environmental groups took them to court and won a stay.  However, I did encounter numerous oil and gas wells along the road, but it was never clear if they were on private property or public land.

When I came to a fork in the road, I took the very faint two-track that led high onto a mountain, thinking it was the logical place for the formations I was seeking.  It turned out that I spent about an hour driving a very rough trail up and down mountains and valleys, but not seeing anything interesting.  Eventually, the trail returned to the "main" road, so I had lost nothing but time.  Not long after, I came upon the "Little Bryce Canyon" area.  I personally don't think it deserves that name, but it was an interesting and colorful canyon.

A short distance down the road, I began to see the "Goblins" area, which I think looks a lot like the Bisti Wilderness Area, only much smaller.

I knew from looking at a map earlier that the road circled back to town, some 27 miles away.  However, when I came to a fork in the road, the sign didn't indicate which I should take to get back to De Beque.  Consequently, the one I took led onto a huge mesa and numerous other forks, all without helpful signage.  I ended up at dead ends six times before giving up and back-tracking to the original branch.  Three hours on rough roads was made barely tolerable by sightings of wild turkeys, wild horses and plenty of wildflowers.

Ironically, once I returned to the original fork and took the other path, within 100 yards was a small sign indicating town was 19 miles away.  At least I got to see more colorful formations on the way back to town. 

No comments:

Post a Comment