Colorado National Monument, near Grand Junction, CO 10/20/16

Colorado National Monument was declared in 1911 following a nearly single-handed 5-year campaign to protect these canyons by John Otto who used pickax and shovel to create the trails and launched a letter-writing campaign to Congress to turn this “heart of the world” into a National Park. Otto became the Monument’s first ranger, and is memorialized in this sculpture at the Visitors Center:

The Monument is about 32 sq miles, and is the northeast corner of the Colorado Plateau – this GoogleMaps satellite image shows the Plateau in its red rock glory, covering northeast Arizona, southwest Utah, and corners of NM and CO:


The Colorado National Monument features 23-mile long Rim Rock Drive which brings you up to spectacular views of the canyon, and around lots of switchbacks with charming names like Dead Man’s Curve – yikes! You also get views of the city of Fruita in the valley below:

Independence Monument was named by Otto himself – it’s a striking lone monolith in the middle of the canyon:img_9231 img_9232 img_9233

We did see photos of early attempts to climb Independence – the most popular path for rock climbers is called Otto’s Route.

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Next stop on the road is the Coke Ovens overlook, to see the formations that look like beehive-shaped ovens for smelting coke ore:

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The red rock walls of the canyon, with Rim Rock Drive above:


Fallen Rock is an unusual rock formation – a huge chunk on the canyon wall broke off and slid down, still standing nearly upright instead of crashing into the rubble on the canyon floor:


You can see how the Fallen Rock fit into that cleft in the canyon wall:img_9243

Further down the road, you reach Ute Canyon Overlook. There’s a stream through the canyon, putting the cottonwoods along the stream into full fall yellow foliage. Love the way the greenery and trees follow the S-curve of the stream.




Riding down towards Grand Junction:

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Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions in front of Grand Mesa


Heading back towards Boulder, along the Colorado, as the sun sets:



1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    What an interesting place!

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