Upper Sieber Canyon

Round Trip Distance: 8.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 6045 - 6425 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 6 hrs.
Trailhead: Old BS Rd. near Knowles Canyon
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic high desert canyon

Sieber Canyon is located in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area on Glade Park west of Grand Junction, Colorado. The main canyon is paralleled by BS Road from the Knowles Canyon trailhead on west to the Jones Canyon trailhead. This hike follows a 4-5 mile long upper branch of the canyon that from evidence you will see if you continue reading shows that this branch of the canyon, whether lived in or just a hunting area, was visited by Indians long before any Europeans were ever on the scene.

People generally park in about 3 different places when hiking into Sieber Canyon. They either park where BS Road crosses the top of the wash that drains into the canyon, at Knowles Canyon trailhead, or at a pullout just past Knowles Canyon trailhead. The last spot is the easiest and that is where this post begins. Park in the pullout on the south side of BS Road and pick a well worn cow trail on the east side of the parking area and follow it into the wash.

You should enter the wash pretty close to a fork in the canyon. The right fork leads to a big spillover at the head of the main section of Sieber Canyon. We hike over to there at the end of this post. For now follow the shallow canyon that is heading in the southerly direction.

For the most part the hiking is very easy. Mostly it depends on where you choose to walk. If you follow some of the cow trails where the dirt is real loose and powdery or the loose gravel in the bottom of the wash then the going can be a lot more difficult. Sticking to the slickrock and firmer sections of the wash makes the hiking much easier.

If you watch the slideshow you might notice that we came across 4 different arrowheads on this hike. All 4 of them are still right where we found them. We have our own little theory that in these washes arrowheads tend to get carried along by the water and sometimes they get covered up while others get uncovered and that they all keep moving along until they get firmly lodged somewhere or buried under too much debris. At any rate it is illegal to collect arrowheads even if they are on the top of the ground.

Upper Sieber Canyon has several branches that you come to as you hike up it. At this one the left fork leads a short distance to a dead end at an alcove. You might want to check it out. We did. Actually we explored pretty much every branch, cave, alcove and a few other nooks and crannies.

The canyon gets deeper the closer you get to the head. There are two main forks near the head of the canyon that both end at large alcove type spillovers. We explored the left branch first because it looked like it went a little further.

There are 2 little sleeping sized caves in the alcove on the left branch of the canyon. There was ample evidence that someone had lived here at least sometime within the last 150 years. It was hard to say about anytime earlier than that but the site had several redeeming qualities.

The alcove in the right branch near the head of the canyon isn't really all that deep. The ground in front of it is choked with brush and the alcove looks like it had a lot of poison ivy. After looking at it through the binoculars it didn't look worth the hassle.

On the trip out we checked out a couple of side canyons that we had passed on the way in. The cave in the middle of this picture is blown in with several feet of dirt but there was some bits of charcoal floating on top of the pile off to one side.

There was another alcove further down the canyon that looked like it may have been inhabited at one time although there weren't any standing walls. There were some charcoal fragments on the surface and someone had dug a couple of holes. It is against the law on public land, or private land without the owners consent, to dig for artifacts. From the map we couldn't tell 100% if this was still public land or not but we were pretty sure that it was although immediately to the east of the upper part of the canyon it appeared to be private property.

This is the view from the top of the big spillover at the head of the main section of Sieber Canyon. A little over 3 miles down the canyon is where the Little Dolores River comes into the canyon.

We have hiked portions of this canyon before this trip and it has always been an enjoyable outing. There is an old rock shelter hidden behind the oakbrush near the trailhead. On one trip we found a fur pile where it looked like a mountain lion had been making a meal from a deer. There are both deer, elk and bears in this area. After noticing arrowheads in the area we decided to really explore the canyon to see what we could discover without really disturbing anything. Archaeologists have excavated caves further down the canyon in the past and found quite a few artifacts. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.