Intimating Landings – Dolores Point (strip on left) is a beautiful mesa overlooking the Dolores River, four miles west of Gateway, Colorado. The airstrip sits atop the mesa in a sagebrush meadow between the depths of the red rock canyon country below and the snow capped peaks of the La Sal Mountains.
The runway was originally a mile long (oriented north-south) but in recent times, most pilots choose to confine themselves to the northern 2200 feet and avoid the visibility issues with a slightly rolling hilltop and dogleg on the southern end. That hill is approximately seventy feet higher than the north end of the strip near the mesa rim. Due to the substantial slope, landings to the south and takeoffs to the north are recommended (and easier). The average elevation is 7120 MSL making density altitude an important consideration. Flying conditions are usually best in the morning when temperatures are lower and there is less convective activity.
Once airborne from the mesa, you can drop down to 4670 feet MSL and land at Hubbard Field (air access to Gateway Canyons). Actually, all one has to do is depart Delores Point and glide down to Hubbard Field and have lunch at Gateway.
Many different types of aircraft use this airstrip year around. Always take a low pass over the strip before you land. Get the feel of the ebbs and flow of the strip. Take precaution to land to the south and be slow by the time you get to the dogleg in the strip. Taking off to the north can be extended back to the farthest point pas the dogleg, pilot’s judgment of course on the position of the plane at start of run.
Dolores Point today, has no facilities other than space to camp (in the meadow or in the pinõn woods nearby). You will need to bring your own water, food, rain gear, warm clothes, and tie-downs.
To the east of Dolores Point is Palisade Point it is however, direct in line of Hubbard Field when departing north (as shown in photo). The field of view as one begins the takeoff is intimating, to say the least. There is, however, plenty of room once one rotates to turn left or right. It is a beautiful place to take photos. Gateway Canyons Resort (below) is an amazing place. There is an awesome collection of antique cars, great restaurant, and many more amenities. It would be a great place to “get away” from civilization and enjoy one’s significant other.
For being so far out of the way, Dolores Point is pretty well connected by air. Fuel and services are available at four airports approximately 35 nm away, Nucla (6V6), Grand Junction (GJT), Mack Mesa (C07), and Canyonlands (CNY). It is right on the border of Utah and Colorado where beautiful vistas, mesa, mountains abound. Be sure and bring a camera.
Some information and photos supplied by the author, Foreflight, the Colorado Pilots Association and the Utah Back Country Pilots.