North Soda Cabin & SpringType: Picnic/Scenic/Wildlife
Miles: Approx. 120 miles round trip from Grand Junction
Access: High Clearance/4wd
Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area Brochure
View North Soda Springs Loop in a larger map
The North Soda area is located on the Bookcliffs just north of Grand Junction Colorado and is within the Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Range. The Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Range is special because it is only one of three areas in the United States specifically set aside for the protection of the wild horses. The whole area encompasses a little over 36,000 acres and consists of mainly pinion and juniper trees, sagebrush and oak brush scattered along some of the most rugged and remote canyon country in Colorado. There are three picnic/campground areas within the range, the North Soda cabin & spring, Low Gap camp & spring and Monument Rock spring areas. This post describes the route from DeBeque Colorado as it enters the northern boundary and loops around via the Winters Flat road with a stop at the North Soda spring & cabin in between. The entire route from Grand Junction Colorado ended up being approximately 120 miles round trip.
The route I took to access the range and picnic area was to begin at the town of DeBeque. You can exit I-70 at exit 62 and travel along Roan Creek Road. As soon as you enter the town you will pass a sign that says “Wild Horse Area 23 Miles” and pointing left, ignore this sign and continue for about 3.5 miles on Roan Creek Road where you will soon come to North Dry Fork Road and another sign indicating the wild horse range. Turn left here and travel for about 6.8 miles until you come to another fork in the road. Up to this point the road is just bumpy due to the large gravel they spread for the oil & gas people.
The High Lonesome Ranch is located at this fork. Turn left onto South Dry Fork road and travel for about another 5.5 miles until you come to another “To Wild Horse Area” sign pointing to the left just before a cattle guard. From the High Lonesome Ranch to this point the road deteriorates slightly but would be no problem for any vehicle.
Once you turn left you will be following a dirt road that varies from smooth to somewhat rutted. From this point on if it’s dry you can get by with a two wheel drive vehicle with a little clearance but not your family sedan. Heavy rain can alter the road and make it impassable even for four wheel drive with chains so plan accordingly. If rain is predicted in or around the area make plans for another day.
Continue following this road for about 2 miles until you come to a sign indicating “Cocoran Wash” to the left, do not go left, rather bear to the right and continue following the road for another 4.2 miles or so until you come to the “Goblins” which is an area of odd and strange formations of white/gray dirt and rocks. You will recognize the “Goblins” when you see them; they appear so out of place. The road is pretty steep in this area but should pose no problems if dry.
Continue following the road after the “Goblins” as it climbs up the back of the Bookcliffs. It was shortly after the “Goblins” that we seen a bear, it ran out of a mud hole and across the road and into a thicket of oak brush. This guy took off pretty fast, I would imagine the bears on the Bookcliffs are a little more afraid of people since they don’t see as many humans unlike the bears in the valley around Palisade and Fruita, I think they are a little more used to humans but just prefer to avoid us. You will come to another fork and I believe there is a sign that indicates the direction to the range. Continuing straight will take you to the Indian Park entrance which is about 8 miles, bearing right will take you to the North Soda section of the range which is the way we went.
About 1 ½ miles later there was a cattle guard and a sign indicating that you’re entering the “Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Area”. Continue following this road as it climbs its way to the edge of the Bookcliffs. The road skirts the rim of the valley and offers some truly amazing views of Grand Junction, Fruita and the Uncompahgre Plateau. There is a short spur road that branches off and leads to the trail head of the Ute Trail. It was in this area that we saw the wild horses. It is hard to miss this road and I would highly recommend taking the short detour because it also offers some fantastic views of the valley.
After the short detour it was a quick 1.5 mile or so drive to the North Soda Springs and Cabin area. The North Soda Springs and Cabin area doesn’t have a whole lot along the lines of picnic grounds but there is a vault toilet at least. You might be able to find a flat spot for a tent and maybe an area for a camp trailer.
There is an old cabin located on the site that looks like it was built a very long time ago. The structure is locked up pretty tight but looks like it is used on occasion. I’m guessing it might be used when they do various maintenance project around the range or round ups with the wild horses. They built a modern canopy/roof over the cabin and porch which helps to protect the old cabin and also supplied shade for the porch where we set up our table and had lunch.
Towards the south of the cabin is what I believe to be the head of Main Canyon which exits near I-70 in Debeque Canyon. Towards the North is a two track road that leads over the small ridge and what looks like a large sagebrush flat area. We didn’t explore that direction but it might have yielded some more views of horses. I believe the actual spring is in that direction as well.
Once we were finished with lunch we packed up and headed back the direction we came. After the first few miles of repeat scenery we exited the wild horse range, dropped down to a little lower elevation and arrived at the first major intersection. The area to the west is called Bronco Flats. There is a sign indicating that Indian Park and Winter Flats is to the right, dry fork to the left. We went right and followed the road as it slowly dropped down and connected to the Winter Flats road.
The remainder of the route continues to head towards Debeque and I-70. The road surface up to this point is the usual slightly rutted and soft dirt. The road eventual dips down and connects to V 2/10 road. From this point on the road would be suitable for most any vehicle, the only bad thing about it was they spread gravel to help with the gas & oil rigs but they use whole rock rather than the crushed gravel which results in a bumpy ride.
This was a fantastic trip and one I have been wanting to take for years. The scenery is incredible as well as the opportunity for wild life viewing. I’ve been hesitant to venture into this area mainly because of the road. The BLM indicates that it is a 4WD road all year around. Perhaps in the spring things might be a little rougher but this late in the summer the road was beat down pretty smooth and keep in mind that after a good rain portions of the road could be impassable even days later. This is very rugged and secluded country and I only had cell phone signal when I was close to the rim of the Bookcliffs above Grand Junction. Please don’t go exploring alone in this area, take two vehicles and plan accordingly it would be a very long and trying walk to get back to civilization if something was to break.