Rattlesnake Arches

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area, Colorado

Elevation Gain3,625ft
Trailhead Elevation5,462ft
Elevation Min/Max4600/5537ft
Elevation Start/End5462/5462ft

Rattlesnake Arches

Rattlesnake Arches is a hiking and horse trail in Mesa County, Colorado. It is within Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area. It is 5.1 miles long and begins at 5,462 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 10.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,625 feet. This trail connects with the following: Rattlesnake Arches Connector and Pollock Bench.

Rattlesnake Arches Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

100 Classic Hikes in Colorado (The Mountaineers Books)
Scott S. Warren
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"Containing the second-largest collection of natural arches in the country—behind only Arches National Park—Rattlesnake Canyon is as nice a slickrock wonderland as any to be found in Colorado. While these arches make for a worthy destination, the route described below traverses some tremendous scenery and offers a real adventure. That is because it follows the challenging Pollock Canyon Trail. Given the route’s rugged stature, novice hikers should avoid this hike."
Colorado's Incredible Backcountry Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"The hike described here starts at the Pollock Canyon Trailhead, but as mentioned above you can also begin at Rattlesnake Arches Trailhead. Unfortunately a 4WD vehicle is required to reach Rattlesnake Arches Trailhead, but if this is not a problem I suggest you begin there. The hike from Rattlesnake Arches Trailhead to all the major points of interest and back is only 5.2 miles, whereas if you begin at Pollock Canyon Trailhead your hike will be 12.7 miles long. This is a very hot hike with no reliable water along the way, and the extra 7.5 miles of walking might be stretching the limit for some people. The season is also important in choosing your trailhead."

Rattlesnake Arches Trip Reports

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Difficult to find camping away from the biotic crust, to leave low impact. The scenery was awesome, and climbing up the final arch on the trail was fabulous, but not to be attempted by the inexperienced or faint hearted.
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Very thrilling for a beginner! Pretty rocky in places. We turned around just where the pullouts are overlooking Rattlesnake Canyon. Gorgeous!

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I started out from the Pollock Canyon trail head at 0730, not sure if I could hike 14 miles. The guide book says if you are a novice hiker you should avoid this trail. Maybe next time I will listen,but on the other hand maybe I should give myself more credit. I have lived in the local area for about a year now and have hiked many of it's trails. If I included all of the toughest parts of the trails I have hiked, you will have the Rattlesnake Arches trail.

This is a challenging and extremely strenuous trail. Be prepared for severe increases in elevation and rough terrain. Make sure you have plenty of water, I started out with 4 liters and ran out with 2 miles to go. That alone could have been disatrous, but a phone call to my wife had water and qatorade wating for me at the end. The guide book estimated 8 hours to make the round trip and I did it in 7. Next time I plan to leave at dawn and take the full 8 hours.

All in all the beauty of the trail was well worth the time and effort. The arches are truly amazing and a camera is a must. You won't be disappointed if you can make the 14 plus miles round trip.

Rattlesnake Arches Photos

Trail Information

Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area
Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Area, BLM, Grand Junction
Local Contacts
Mack (USGS)
Local Maps