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When European settlers first arrived in this valley in western Colorado, they were dumbfounded by the fact that the mighty Dolores River cuts perpendicularly across it, spilling out from a deep canyon on the south and entering another deep canyon on the north, instead of flowing down the center of the valley like all other rivers in their experience. At a loss to explain the phenomenon, they named the valley Paradox. We now know that the valley was formed by the collapse of ancient salt dome caves beneath the Dolores River Canyon.

The result is a remote valley with excellent scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. The floor of the valley is filled with sagebrush, where it is easy to find Sage Thrasher, Sage Sparrow, coyotes, jackrabbits, and mule deer. A couple of small farm ponds on the western end of the valley can be good for ducks and shorebirds, and Sandhill Cranes have nested in the area. This is the best place in Colorado to see Ring-necked Pheasant. The pinyon-juniper hillsides should be checked for Gray Vireo, Black-throated Sparrow, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Gray Flycatcher, and Pinyon Jay. Where the highway crosses the river, keep an eye out for Black Phoebe.

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