where, when, and what to find

Montezuma Creek Road -- Lower

posted by Tim Avery at
on Friday, April 10, 2015 

No Photo At This Time photo by Utah Birders

Managed by the BLM, Montezuma Canyon is situated in San Juan County about 6 miles east of Monticello, and 13 miles east of Blanding.  There are no officially established trails, campsites, or other facilities in Montezuma Canyon. For the most part, the graded dirt road is suitable for 2 wheel drive vehicles however, after a rain or snow storm it can become impassable in some locations. The canyon is about 38 miles long from north to south, and the Montezuma Creek drainage eventually flows into the San Juan River near Aneth.  The creek is intermittent and lacks water most of the year outside of spring run off and during flash floods.  The canyon is dry desert and cliffs, with a wide flat bottom in most places desert scrub covers most open spaces.  Greasewood and Rabbitbrush are common, while along the creek huge Fremont Cottonwood follow the canyon bottom for its entire length.  In some places the trees are very thick while in others they can be sparse.  Willows and other understory can be found in may places--there are seeps and springs that produce water at a number of places in the canyon year round--even when the creek isn't flowing.  Numerous side canyon jut off the main canyon and any can be worth exploring.  The are also several large ponds and dams creating small bodies of water at various points in the canyon--some are large enough that wetland and marsh habitat is present.  Various small ranches and farms dot the landscape and oil pumpjacks can be found randomly throughout the area.  Notably the area is home to numerous rock art sites, cave dwellings, and native artifact dumps.  This varied location is currently split into 4 hotspots:

Montezuma Creek Rd -- Lower
Montezuma Creek Rd -- Middle
Montezuma Creek Rd -- Upper
Montezuma Creek Rd -- Ranch & Pond

Remember to take plenty of water. Watch the weather and stay on the designated roads if you visit in the summer months.  Spare tires, and emergency supplies are always a good idea in remote locations like this where you may potentially not see another person for several days if you end up on a back road or deep in a side canyon.

In working to create more valuable data by splitting the canyon into sections we can have more specific data.  The lower stretch of the canyon is more open, has fewer trees, and is by far the driest section. This means the species found here are going to differ slightly than what's up canyon--mainly in respect to the riparian species.  I need to go break some older lists out, but I know BLACK-THROATED SPARROW and both ROCK and CANYON WREN are easy finds here.  HORNED LARK are often seen along the road, while RED-TAILED HAWK, NORTHERN HARRIER, and other raptors can often be seen hunting the open areas.

From the intersection of Main and Center Streets in Blanding head south on Main Street for 1.8 miles.  Turn left onto 1800 South/Browns Canyon Road. After 1.1 miles turn right onto Perkins Rd/Rte 2416/Universe Road. Follow this for 4.2 miles then keep right at the split on CR-206/Around the World Road for 14.3 miles till you reach Montezuma Creek Road. The lower section is everything south from here to Hatch Trading Post for for 9 miles.

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