Just Traveling Thru Colorado National Monument, CO

Since we had never visited the Grand Junction area, and that was on our route to Moab, UT, we decided to explore the area. We discovered right away that the Colorado National Monument was something that looked beautiful and it was easy to access. So our first stop on the way to Utah was established. And before I forget to mention it, it was cold that morning - so if you visit here, bring warm clothing!

Interesting Colorado National Monument Facts
  • Colorado National Monument is located is in the northeast area of the vast Colorado Plateau which is a landmass that covers the Four Corners region of the United States Southwest. The Colorado Plateau has the greatest concentration of U.S. National Park Service units in the country outside of Washington D.C. including the Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Capitol Reef, Mesa Verde, Bears Ears, and more.
  • John Otto mounted a one-man campaign to have his "backyard" declared a national park. That designation came in 1911, with Otto as its first superintendent. Otto famously wrote, "I came here last year and found these canyons, and they felt like the heart of the world to me. I'm going to stay and promote this place because it should be a national park."
  • The Colorado National Monument boasts canyons as deep as 500 feet and rock monoliths as tall as 450 feet.
  • Construction of Rim Rock Drive began in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was completed in the '50s.
  • Of the three tunnels along the 23-mile-long Rim Rock Drive, the longest is 530 feet long.
  • Rim Rock Drive is also a popular and challenging road-biking route. It is home to the annual bike race called Tour of the Moon.
  • Serpent's Trail, the original dirt road into the Monument and now its most popular hiking trail makes 54 switchbacks in just 2 1/2 miles.
  • Colorado National Monument visitors often see mule deer and may also spot coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, desert bighorns and much smaller mammals such as foxes, desert cottontails, squirrels, and other rodents.
  • Colorado National Monument records an annual average of fewer than 12 inches of rain.
  • The Colorado National Monument is 20,533 acres/83.09 square kilometers in size.
  • The Colorado National Monument requires an entrance fee, but not a reservation. If you plan to camp there, you will need a campground reservation.
Travel Tile
Where is the Colorado National Monument  Map

Our route from Glenwood Springs, CO was west-bound on I-70 which brought us into the Grand Junction, CO area. We had planned to explore the Monument, so our departure from Glenwood Springs was very early such that we could still arrive in Moab, UT prior to dinner time. We exited I-70 at exit # 24 and drove to Rimrock Drive where the southern entrance to the Monument is located.

We spent time at various pullouts to get pictures and do a bit of walking in order to see the views, it is a photogenic area and worth a visit. It also worked out nicely for us in terms of time, as by the time we were exiting the monument, it was lunch time so we drove into Grand Junction and had a bite to eat.

Independence Monument - taken from the View Turnout on Rimrock Drive

You can see Grand Junction in the background, so this view is obviously looking east. This iconic 450-foot-high landmark is situated one mile southeast of the monument's visitor center, and 9 miles (14 km) west of the community of Grand Junction, where it towers above the floor of Monument Canyon and Wedding Canyon. We stopped at the viewpoint turnout because the view was so good.

Rim Rock Drive offers an awe-inspiring journey through the heart of Colorado National Monument, revealing the raw beauty of nature's artistry. This 23-mile serpentine road winds along the edge of deep canyons, offering panoramic vistas of rugged red rock formations, ancient monoliths, and the sweeping Colorado Plateau. As the sun's golden hues dance upon the cliffs and mesas, the drive becomes a visual symphony of color and texture. Along the route, numerous overlooks beckon travelers to pause and absorb the breathtaking views, including those of the Monument Canyon and Independence Monument. The drive is a testament to both engineering prowess and the preservation of the natural world, allowing visitors to marvel at the interplay of geological forces that shaped this dramatic landscape over millions of years. Rim Rock Drive is a pilgrimage into the heart of geological history, promising an unforgettable encounter with the grandeur of the American Southwest.

You need to exercise caution as you drive on this road, as it is a popular route for bicycle riders and we saw a number of groups going in both directions. In addition, there are a number of turnouts for viewing lots and hiking trails, so cars are entering and exiting the highway frequently.

Some Useful Links
  • Just Traveling Thru Travel Planning Tips
  • 11 Top-Rated things to do in Grand Junction, CO on the "Planetware" site
  • 14 Best Things to Do in Grand Junction, CO on the "Crazy Tourist" site
  • Google Search Results list for "accommodations in or near Grand Junction, CO"
  • Google Search Results list for "restaurants in or near Grand Junction, CO"
  • Google Search Results list for "hiking in the Colorado National Monument area"
  • Amazon Search Results list for "Colorado National Monument"
  • Youtube Search Results list for "Colorado National Monument"
  • Colorado National Monument: Ultimate Guide + Photo Tips on the "We Dream of Travel" site
  • Visit our Youtube Channel
Colorado/Utah/Arizona Adventure Itinerary



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