Last updated: August 28, 2022
Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
Elevation Change: Approximately 1,000 feet (305 meters)
Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Type of Trail: Out and back, not a loop
Trailhead: On the Yampa Bench Road, just east of Wagon Wheel Point Overlook, or from the Harding Hole #1 campsite on the Yampa River.
This steep trail descends from the Yampa Bench Road to the Harding Hole campsites along the Yampa River. The trail provides dramatic views of Bull Canyon and the Yampa River. In addition, river rafters can use this trail to access other sweeping views along the canyon, such as Wagon Wheel Point. Despite its beauty, there are many reasons to use caution when hiking this trail. The are steep drop offs and loose rocks in many areas. Wear closed-toed shoes and watch for cactus along the trail. Additionally, this part of the backcountry is frequented by bears and mountain lions. We strongly recommend brushing up on wilderness safety and hiking in groups!
The Harding Hole campsites are reserved for rivergoers during the high-use river season, but are open to backpackers during the low-use season. Permits are required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. To obtain a permit, contact the Information Desk at (435) 781-7700. Visitors must follow all backcountry camping rules.
The Yampa Bench Road is a rugged, unpaved scenic drive on the Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument. This road required a high-clearance vehicle with four-wheel-drive (4WD). The road is 18 miles (29 km) in length one way, and there are no amenities or restrooms along the entire route. Due to the presence of clay, the road is impassable to all vehicles when wet. The road is typically impassable in winter and spring.
Trail maps of Dinosaur National Monument are available from the park bookstore.
Rules and Regulations
- Pets and animals who provide only comfort or emotional support are prohibited on this trail and in the backcountry.
- Carry out all trash.
- Collecting artifacts, fossils, plants, antlers, rocks, or other objects is prohibited.
- Do not feed or approach wildlife.
- Biking is not permitted on this trail.
- Permits are required for overnight camping in the monument's backcountry. To obtain a permit, call the Information Desk at (435) 781-7700. Visitors must follow all backcountry camping rules.
- This trail is difficult to follow in some places. Route finding abilities, such as the ability to use a map and compass, may be necessary in some areas.
- The trail is steep and contains several drop-offs along the way. Use caution near the cliffs. Watch for cactus!
- There is no shade on this trail.
- Be prepared for desert hiking. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Take water. A minimum of 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of water per person is recommended in summer.
- Temperatures can exceed 100°F (38°C) in summer. To avoid the heat, hike in the morning or evening. Carry a headlamp if hiking near nightfall.
- Let someone know where you are going and when you are due back.
- Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes, such as hiking boots or athletic shoes. Open-toed shoes or sandals are not recommended.
- Watch for wildlife. This is bear and mountain lion country. Keep small children close.