The Hunting Grounds Material:Silicified Wood, Fossils, misc Vehicle: Moderate clearance / 4-wheel drive GPS Coordinates 1st entrance: 38° 56.011′N , 108° 23.670′W GPS Coordinates 2nd entrance: 38° 53.573′N , 108° 21.737′W
The Hunting Grounds is a large area of land that stretches from a few miles southeast of highway 141 in Whitewater Colorado all the way to Escalante Canyon just west of Delta Colorado. The southern portion is bordered by the Gunnison River and the northern portion is bordered by Highway 50.
This post focuses on the western end of the area. There are a couple ways to access the vast area. The first and closest to Grand Junction would be to travel south out of Clifton Colorado on 32 Road for about 5 ¼ miles until you reach Highway 50. From here you need to turn left and travel south towards Delta Colorado for just over 7 miles until you come to Bean Ranch Road on your right and just past Kannah Creek. Turn right and travel on Bean Ranch Road for about 2 miles until the road turns to gravel and dirt. Once you pass through the fence and cattle guard you are on BLM land from here until you reach the Gunnison River which is about 3 ½ miles farther on. Unless you have a high clearance four wheel drive and want to do to some rock crawling to get to the cliffs overlooking the Gunnison River I would not suggest taking this route because it does have some pretty rough sections.
The other route I know of is to continue on Highway 50 past Bean Ranch Road for about another 3.3 miles until you come to a dirt road that turns off the highway and travels south. There is an address on the fence and the road looks like someone’s driveway but it will continue past the residence on the left. This route is far better than the Bean Ranch Road access although just past the entrance to the residence there is a fairly deep wash that you have to pass through that might require some clearance. Once past the wash the road bears right. On your left you will see the dam to a small stock pond, you will want to turn left here and begin travelling south. The road is fairly good other than it has a good number of loose rocks on it and a wash or two you will need to navigate but overall it is not too bad.
From the stock pond all the way to the Gunnison River is labeled as BLM land on my map so anywhere around there is fair game, of course the farther south you go the more likely you might find interesting specimens.
An interesting story of this area is that when they were building the train tracks along the river they chose to dig a tunnel through the mountain. To make transporting the supplies easier and to supply fresh air for the workers digging the tunnel, they drilled another tunnel from the top of the hill and down to the train tunnel below. Years later the train engineers would pass through the tunnel and during a certain time of day there would be a light on the tunnel wall. The engineers not knowing what it was began a legend of a ghost in the tunnel. In reality it was just light shining down the second tunnel they dug years ago and striking the wall. I have looked for that second tunnel and have never been able to find it.
There is really no specific area that I know of that is better than another to do some rockhounding. There are all kinds of different rocks and minerals scattered over the area including silicified wood and the possibility of fossils. The area was also used by the Indians as part of their major hunting areas, so you might even be able to see some wildlife. I have seen signs of mountain lion or bobcat, deer, coyote and have seen antelope in the area as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes also.
This is kind of an interesting area. If you want solitude, peace and quiet this might be the area to go. I have been out here numerous times and have never seen another person. There are roads that go in all different directions so you need to make sure you know where you want to go because some of them can get pretty rough.
Have fun, be careful and rock on!