Billings Canyon Jeep Trail

Round Trip Distance: 5.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5248 - 5890 feet
Cellphone: 1-4 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Third Flats
Fee: none
Attractions: Extreme Jeep Trail, Scenic canyon hike

The Billings Canyon Jeep trail is located in the BLM Bangs Canyon Management Area off Little Park Road near Grand Junction, Colorado. The jeep trail was constructed in partnership with local 4x4 enthusiasts from the Grand Mesa Jeep Club and the BLM to provide a place for extreme 4x4 use after other trails deemed no longer appropriate for OHV use in the area were closed. The result of their combined effort is a world class jeep trail that has also preserved the canyon as a great hiking trail.

This post begins from the parking area across Little Park Road from the Third Flats trailhead. No parking is available at the actual trailhead. People with jeeps that are being trailered in will continue up Little Park Road to the Bangs Canyon Staging Area and park there. From the staging area they will follow the Billings Canyon Road to the jeep trail.

From the trailhead it is an easy hike heading east on the Third Flats Road. All of the trails in the Third Flats area are multi use trails that are opened to hiking, horseback riding, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, ATV's, snowmobiles and jeeps. Not all trails are opened to all uses but each trail is marked for the purposes it supports. The Third Flats Area is day use only so there is no camping and no fires allowed.

For anyone interested in driving in on the Third Flats Road to either cut down on the length of some of the hikes or to just enjoy the area a good 4-wheel drive vehicle will be required. There are a few pretty rocky and rutted spots on the road that require a high clearance vehicle.

After hiking down the road for almost 1 mile you come to the beginning of the loop. Continue on the main road to hike the trail in the same direction that the jeeps take within the canyon.

At about the 2.7 mile point take the right fork in the road that leads past the Art Cooks View trail to the Billings Canyon Jeep trail.

The sign at the entrance to the canyon has a list of required equipment for all jeepers to have before making their attempt. Items include 35" or bigger tires, winch, locking differentials, rollover protection, high lift jack, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, oil absorbent material and a bucket. The trail has an 8 out of 10 rating which indicates that vehicle damage is likely and equipment or mechanical damage is probable.

The canyon itself is a very pleasant hike. As far as obstacles that jeeps are going to face the canyon starts out pretty tame.

It's not long though before things begin getting a lot rougher. A little ways into the canyon and a sign warns of the increasing difficulties that are ahead and suggests that some people may want to consider turning around before it is too late.

Billings Canyon contains a lot of slickrock that helps a great deal in controlling any erosion that you would expect from jeeps spinning their tires and such. It is also pretty amazing how clean the canyon is with hardly an oil spill to be found anywhere. Most peoples driveways have more oil on them than the jeep trail does. Every once in a while you may find a small item like a piece of a u-joint or something.

If you are lucky you might even run into some jeeps. These people were smart and traveling in a group so they could help each other out.

Here is someone that is really into the sport with his custom rock crawler. He was leading the way for the other jeeps to get a better feel for the canyon.

Here is a short compilation of several videos some of which didn't turn out all that great but they give a bit of an idea of the fun these guys were having. After watching these jeeps you can really appreciate how special areas need to be set aside for everyone to enjoy our public lands and not pander to any special interest group in particular at the exclusion of everyone else. A good balance between wilderness areas, National Parks and Monuments, mountain biking and off road vehicles is a win win for everyone. Us hikers have it nice because we can go pretty much anywhere on public lands. While most anyone would be repulsed seeing this sort of activity in somewhere like Monument Canyon they should be able to see in an instant how well it is suited to this location.

There are several big shelves that present quite the obstacle for jeeps but one in particular near the top of the canyon appears to be over 6 feet high. An eyelet has been anchored into the rock to provide somewhere to hook a winch to. It is hard to imagine anyone making it over it without a winch.

Taking a right at the top of the canyon will lead back to where the loop began. Jeeps can follow the road to the left that will take them back to the Billings Canyon road.

The Billings Canyon Jeep trail is an enjoyable and picturesque hike. It was surprising that with 5 jeeps within the canyon that you couldn't hear them until you were almost right upon them (and most of them sounded pretty cool). Dirt bikes in contrast that are buzzing around on some of the other trails above the canyon can be heard from several miles away. All in all they have done a good job building and maintaining the trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.