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
  • It 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 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.
  • 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 Monument is 20,533 acres/83.09 square kilometers in size.
Colorado National Monument  Map
Where is it located?

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.

Rim Rock Drive is a scenic (and only) road in Colorado National Monument. The 23-mile drive follows the upper rim of a series of canyons, extending from the vicinity of Fruita, Colorado, in the west to near Grand Junction, Colorado, in the east, connecting points only 8 miles miles apart in a straight line.

Rim Rock Drive takes you through some interesting geography, and there are a number of hiking trails along the way. Be careful during your drive, because this is a popular mountain biking area and we saw numerous bicycle riders on our drive north.

Click here to view our Colorado National Monument Image Gallery.

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