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Colorado National Monument

The Colorado National Monument was set aside as a National Park by President Taft in 1911, mainly due to the efforts of John Otto. Now for over a century, this National Park has been preserved and protected and has been an attraction for tourists and Colorado natives alike. This a breathtaking area is part of the Colorado Plateau just like the Grand Canyon and the Arches. The area is 2,000 feet higher than the Grand Valley and Colorado River and its red rock formations were shaped from millions of years of erosion. Is that an oversimplified description? You betcha! To learn more on how this geologic phenomenon happened, read Professor Bill Hood’s explanation on the National Park Service’s website. Located just west of Grand Junction, you and your family will want to spend more than a day here. The area of Grand Junction is also home to fantastic wineries and other activities. But definitely take time to see this national treasure.

Scenic Drive

While visiting the Colorado National Monument, many people take the 23-mile scenic Rim Rock Drive by the canyons. You’ll be able to stop at popular look out points and take pictures of scenery and animals. Be sure to be careful during your drive, as you will share the road with cyclists. Be patient, go slow (max speed on this drive is 25 mph!), and be aware of your surroundings.  

Hiking and Biking

There are over 40 miles of maintain trails you will enjoy here, some that even take you right up to the monoliths towering over the valley floor. Before you start, download the hiking brochure or pick one up at the visitors center. Trails here range from a quarter of a mile to 14 miles. That’s a big difference and knowing where you are going, knowing how to get back, and knowing the animals you could encounter on your hike will keep you safe and happy. Colorado residents know a few things about hiking here. For one, always have plenty of water and sunscreen, and always wear layers. You may be warm when you start, but when that afternoon storm rolls through, you may just discover you need some extra padding.

Rock Climbing

Hundreds of experience rock climbers visit the park each year to climb the magnificent peaks and boulders. Do not start climbing here without the proper gear and training. This is no joke. If you are interested in rock climbing, go through the necessary proper steps to learn. There are plenty of places in the area to take classes and we highly recommend trying out this awesome experience.

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service - Photo by Sally Bellacqua