Photo Courtesy of John Fitzpatrick
Part of the Sand Canyon Trails System.
East Rock Creek is a popular loop in Sand Canyon. East Rock Creek Trail is west of the main Sand Canyon out-and-back trail and is rated difficult; the trail gains 760 feet in just over 5 miles. Located near Cortez, Colorado and situated in the deserts of the southwest, this National Monument boasts the largest concentration of Pueblo Indian (Anasazi) ruins in the U.S. with about 6000 recorded archaeological sites! These are just the sites that have been recorded and documented. The popular Sand Canyon Trail is 6.5 miles (one-way) from Sand Canyon Pueblo down to the lower trailhead in McElmo Canyon. The trail is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain bicycling, but the upper section is steep and rugged– not recommended for bicycles. Part of the singletrack dirt trail crosses slick rock marked with rock cairns. Combining the main canyon trail with other trails, such as the East Rock Creek Trail, makes for an enjoyable loop. Do not enter structures, climb on walls, take or move artifacts, or touch rock art–the oils on your skin accelerate deterioration of this rare evidence of past lives. Collect nothing and leave what you see for others to enjoy. Pack out your trash and do not leave “offerings.” These only confuse the meaning of the sites.