Colorado National Monument. Canyon in Colorado, United States

Colorado National Monument

Canyon in Colorado, United States

Otto's trail, Colorado National Monument Photo © Pedro Díaz

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Colorado National Monument

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Colorado National Monument -
	Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument - Colorado National Monument. Photo by vtgohokies
Colorado National Monument conserves one of the greatest landscapes in Western United States. This marvelous fortune has much more to it than just a monument. The enormous plateau consists of canyon vista and lofty monoliths as high as 137 meter. You can explore and experience spectacular views from the Rim Rock Drive and trails lined with sheer walls of the red rock canyon that wind along the plateau, to catch a glimpse of soaring eagles and bighorn sheep.

Colorado National Monument is locally referred to as ‘The Monument’. It is part of National Park Service and is located northeast of the vast Colorado plateau, near Grand Junction City, Colorado.

Its breathtaking canyons cut deep beneath sandstone and granite-gneiss-schist rock formations. The Monument is desert land seated atop the Colorado Plateau with juniper and pinion forests on the plateau. Moreover, this park is home to a variety of wildlife including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks; ravens, desert bighorn sheep; coyotes, mule deer; mountain lions, foxes; bobcats, squirrels; rodents, desert cottontails; and jays.
However, the best feature attraction in Colorado National Monument is Monument Canyon that runs the entire width of the park. It includes rock formations such as the Kissing Couple, Coke Ovens, and Independence Monument.

Colorado National Monument -
	Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument. Photo by David Mendosa

History

Colorado
	National Monument - September 9, 2014 - Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument - September 9, 2014 - Colorado National Monument. Photo by mlhradio
Colorado National Monument was first discovered by John Otto (Wikipedia Article) in the early 20th century. Before his arrival, the residents of that area deduced the canyon to be godforsaken. Otto then came and started constructing trails into the canyons and on the plateau. Soon after, word spread out to the Grand Junction’s Chamber of Commerce regarding his work, who then sent a contingent to probe. Otto got praised for his work and the picturesque beauty of the desert area.

President William Howard Taft declared the canyons as a National Monument through the Antiquities Act and presidential proclamation in order to safeguard the canyons. Colorado National Monument was established on May 24, 1911 and Otto got hired as the first park ranger. He continued creating and maintaining trails in the succeeding 16 years working as a park ranger and residing in the park’s tent.

The park became more popular in the 1980s somewhat due to the involvement as a platform of the Coors Classic (Wikipedia
	Article), a major international bicycle race. The race became known as ‘The Tour of the Moon’ because of the glorious landscapes the race journeyed on the Rim Rock Drive.

Scenes from
	Rimrock Drive in Colorado National Monument - Colorado National Monument
Scenes from Rimrock Drive in Colorado National Monument. Photo by Frank Kovalchek

Activities

There are countless activities to partake in at Colorado National Monument such as horseback riding, hiking, scenic drives, and road bicycling. Also on the west side is a visitor center with a natural history museum and a gift shop. Close-by is Book Cliffs and a grand flat-topped mountain worldwide called the Grand Mesa (Wikipedia Article). Just beneath the Grand Mesa is a secluded habitat of claret cup cactus, barrel cactus, and prickly pear cactus revealing their multicolored flowers in purple, yellow, white, and red.

Colorado National Monument offers memorable views for campers, bikers and hikers. Hiking in The Monument is perfect for every season but there is something exceptional about the spring, particularly during mornings and evenings.

 - Colorado National
	Monument
Colorado National Monument. Photo by sfgamchick

Trails

The Monument has 14 hiking trails of varied lengths and difficulties, each offering a unique perspective to the monument park. Most of the trails are well-maintained despite them having rough terrains and rattlesnakes. Also, summer storms result in flash floods hence unsafe trail conditions.

Liberty Cap Trail

It is famous for winter cross-country skiing. The Liberty Cap is an ancient sand dune that offers a breathtaking view of the Grand Valley.

Serpent's Trail, Colorado
	National Monument - Colorado National Monument
Serpent's Trail, Colorado National Monument - Colorado National Monument. Photo by Photo Granny

Serpent’s Trail

It is Colorado National Monument’s original dirt road. Presently, it is the most favored hiking trail that marks 54 switchbacks in just two-and-a-half miles. It offers stunning views of the monument and the great valley under.

Devil’s kitchen

This trail is located directly to the other side of Rim Rock Drive from Saddlehorn Visitor Center. It is substantially level and regarded as reasonably moderate hiking. If you want to experience a short hike of the monument, this is the trail to go by. It is only approximately a half hour walk (1.6 kilometers) of spectacular scenery of plants, animals, and rocks that the monument offers; take time and enjoy the trail with your kids since it offers child-sized exploration.

Corkscrew Trail

Though this trail was closed for several years, it reopened again in the year 2006. It extends off Liberty Cap and circles small cliffs and canyons that cannot be spotted from the valley basin. It is the only loop trail on the monument about 4.8 kilometers long, featuring a less challenging climb compared to Liberty Cap.

Monument canyon trail

It is a popular train of about 8 kilometers. It is usually hiked up and back, and offers a close view of Independence Monument, which is the most distinct feature of Colorado National Monument.

No Thoroughfare Trail

It is located near the east entrance. As implied by the name, there is no designated trail atop this canyon.

Dead-end trail

It covers a few miles into the canyon and requires up and back hiking.

 - Colorado National
	Monument
Colorado National Monument. Photo by unknown

Preparation

In order to fully enjoy your walks of the eye-grabbing monument, ensure to have proper footwear for the exploration ahead. Hiking shoes or lightweight tennis shoes are of necessity. Some trails will require you to have a sturdy pair of boots or shoes depending on the nature of the walk. As much as you wish to have fun and soak up the wonders of nature, just remember that your safety comes first.

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Author: marisa. Last updated: Jan 24, 2015

Pictures of Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument.

Colorado National Monument in Winter - Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument in Winter - Photo by Johnia!

Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument. Photo by sfgamchick

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