A river runs through it.
The dry, sparsely populated valley is named after the apparently paradoxical course of the Dolores River. Colorado State Highway 80 follows Paradox Valley on its way to Naturita to Utah State line, crossing the historic Dolores River Bridge near the small town of Bedrock. The town of Paradox lies a few miles north of the highway. Paradox is located 5,000ft at the Dolores River to nearly 6,000ft at the southeast end. Steep sandstone and shale walls bound the valley to the northeast and southwest. The valley was named in 1875 by geologist and surveyor Albert Charles Peale after he noted that the Dolores River had a “desire to perform strange and unexpected things,” in the area. Instead of flowing down the valley, the river emerges from a narrow gap in one wall, cuts perpendicularly across the middle, and exits through another gap. As a consequence of this unusual geography, the valley cannot be easily irrigated by the Dolores River, but springs and streams fed by snowmelt from La Sal Range support farming in the valley.