The Colorado National Monument
The Colorado National Monument - a national monument is a protected area that is similar to a national park - is located just outside the town of Grand Junction, Colorado. You travel through the monument on Rim Rock Drive - through many sheer-walled, red rock canyons filled with monoliths - stopping at overlooks that show the vastness of this area of the American West. An area I never even knew existed until we were pointed in that direction by everyone we met in Grand Junction - "Of course, you have to do the Monument" they would say as I was thinking to myself - What monument?
Drive, Hike or Bike
You can drive, hike or bike the Colorado National Monument. Adventure seekers look at it as a bucket list item - either biking the 23 mile Rim Rock Drive with it's ascents and descents or hiking some of it's 13 back country trails with some at more than 7000 feet elevation.
Driving Rim Rock Road We started at the east end of the road just outside of Grand Junction and worked our way to the Visitor Center at the west end near Fruita. It was July 4th weekend and I thought that maybe we would be there with a few thousand of our closest friends but until we reached the visitor center we saw maybe a handful of visitors. If you're seeking solitude and serenity, this is most definitely the place. (Rim Rock Road is the only paved road through the Monument)
History of Colorado National Monument The area was first explored by it's fiercest champion, John Otto , in the early 20th century. Many in that time believed the canyons to be inacessible to humans. But he began building trails and people started lobbying for it to become a national park. It was established as a national monument in 1911 and Otto became it's first park ranger - for a salary of $1 per month. He lived in a tent in the park and was known as "The Hermit of Monument Park". One of the most interesting things I learned about him at the park was that he was married there in 1911 to Beatrice Farnham, an artist from Boston, at the base of Independence Monument - one of it's most famous landmarks - but the marriage lasted less than 6 months as his bride found out that he wanted her to live in his tent with him. She knew he loved the area but she didn't think they'd be tent camping for life. They divorced shortly thereafter.
If you're in Western Colorado or Eastern Utah and you want to get away from crowds while seeing some incredible scenery, head to the Colorado National Monument. I think you'll be glad you did.
Things to know before you go:
-The Monument is located outside the city of Grand Junction and is open 24/7 year round but Rim Rock Road does close for bad weather conditions. Always check before you go.
-Currently the entrance fee is $15 for cars, $10 for motorcycles and $5 for hikers/bikers.
-The park Visitor Center will be able to help you with any info you need including permits.It is located four miles from the west entrance and 19 miles from the east entrance.
Linking up with: Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox,The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party!