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Lonesome Lips Arch & Horsethief Canyon Overlook

Canyons of the Black Ridge Wilderness | Thursday, May 7, 2020

This evening I headed out after work again to continue my local arch hunting endeavors within the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness. I drove over Black Ridge for the second time this week, but this time I continued all the way to the Rattlesnake Arches Trailhead at the very end of the road. I had no intentions of visiting the popular arches in Rattlesnake Canyon this evening, instead, I was going to look for the lesser-known Lonesome Lips Arch which is located at the edge of a small mesa above a short unnamed canyon that is closer to the Colorado River. As I started descending the Rattlesnake Arches Trail I quickly spotted the arch I was looking for far below and headed that direction.

I turned right at the trail junction on the lower bench and hiked away from the Rattlesnake Arches toward the Pollock Bench Trailhead, but soon I got off the trail and started making my way through the backcountry.

Rattlesnake Arches Trail

I decided to visit the arch from below first and then I would climb back up onto the mesa for a view from above, so I followed a very steep and loose game trail to the bench below the mesa.

Gulch Descent

I ended up descending about 1,000 feet from where I parked my Jeep at the trailhead to reach the bench below the arch.

Below The Bench

Less than an hour after leaving the trailhead I was looking up at the arch from below.

Lonesome Lips Arch Setting

Lonesome Lips Arch

Lonesome Lips Arch

Next, it was time to start my climb back up onto the mesa so I could get a view from above.

Steep Climb

Following the rim of the mesa.

Along The Rim

Lonesome Lips Arch from above.

Above Lonesome Lips Arch

Before returning to my Jeep, I thought it would be fun to hike out to the very northern tip of the mesa I was on for a view over the Colorado River into Horsethief Canyon.

Edge of the Wilderness

Here is a view from the Horsethief Canyon Overlook. It was very windy on this point, so much so that I could barely hold the camera still for a shot! There was a raft below on the river that looked like it was struggling against the wind that was coming up the river, which didn’t look like a lot of fun.

Horsethief Canyon Overlook

Lichen Spots

Lichen Spots

I returned to the Rattlesnake Arches Trail and then it was easy hiking all the way back to my Jeep.

Rattlesnake Arches Trail Sunstar

Here’s a view over the small mesa I was just hiking across.

View From Above

If you look closely in the middle of this photo, you can see Lonesome Lips Arch in the shadows.

Lonesome Below

Another evening view over the Grand Valley as I reached the top of the trail. I returned to my Jeep about 30 minutes before sunset after hiking about 7.5 miles.

Top of the Trail

Shortly after leaving the trailhead on my way back home, I stopped at an overlook of Rattlesnake Canyon just before sunset.

Along The Edge

Rattlesnake Canyon Sunset

Rattlesnake Canyon Sunset

>> Lonesome Lips Arch & Horsethief Canyon Overlook Photo Gallery


  1. Charles
    Charles May 12, 2020

    Just found this website and wanted to thank you for documenting all these hikes. Im a native of Denver currently living out of state but im moving to Fruita next month, I know parts of CO quite well but not the western slope – so thanks for all this great info! I will be referring back to this site often i think.

  2. Charles
    Charles May 13, 2020

    Hi Randy – just a quick question for you: do you have any recommendations for maps for hiking in these areas? I have a watch that has a basic GPS breadcrumb sort of navigation but ive spent enough time in the (utah/arizona) deserts to know that its easy to get off trail and that a map can come in handy.


    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat May 13, 2020

      If you want to use your phone, I’d recommend trying out Gaia GPS. It’s what I’ve been using for a few years now and there are a bunch of different map options in the app.

  3. Charles
    Charles May 13, 2020

    Perhaps, never mind! I just saw the resources tab on your site. Ill check it out. Thanks.

  4. Charles
    Charles May 14, 2020

    One more question! What is the rattlesnake situation around there? On the Front Range i know where they are and in the mountains i am not worried about them even though i know their range can get near ~8k feet i have never seen one in decades of hiking in that state in the mountains.

    But we have a dog and i like to go running and just curious whats your take on the snake (non) situation?


    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat May 14, 2020

      While I know they are around, I can count on one hand then number of rattlesnakes I have seen on the Colorado Plateau in 15+ years of exploring, and I have never run into one in western Colorado yet.

  5. Charles
    Charles May 14, 2020

    Thank you, this is very good news for me and my dog. Appreciate the local knowledge!

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