Colorado National Monument

Decades ago, I rode through the twisting, winding road that follows the rim overlooking the plateau carved by the Colorado River. I was not the one driving then; this time I was. At times, the twenty-three mile road seemed precariously close to the edge, sometimes with guardrails and sometimes without. At one of the first pullouts, I remarked to a man at the viewpoint that it was quite a drive. “Try it on a motorcycle!” he said. I turned around to see his wheels in the parking area.

The land of the Colorado Plateau was first inhabited by Navajo and Ute tribes. John Otto built many of the trails in the early 1900s, and Colorado National Monument was named in 1911. Construction began on the scenic drive along the rim in 1931 and was completed by the National Park Service in 1950. Varied layers of rock can be seen throughout the plateau, a diverse geological strata. Erosion is constantly changing the face of the rock formations.

Returning from a Western Slope road trip, I followed the road from south to north, stopping at the overlooks and taking the short hikes to panoramic views. The most iconic red rock shapes are near the northern entry, just west of Grand Junction. The photos below are posted in chronological order (hence geographical order), so the noted rock structures appear at the end. Snow-capped mountains hover along the horizon.

Coke Ovens
Independence Monument
Pipe Organ
Balanced Rock

Western Slope road trip: Grand Junction sculptureDominguez CanyonFruitgrowers Reservoir, Western Slope towns, Colorado National Monument

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

32 thoughts on “Colorado National Monument

  1. I love living in Grand Junction with all of this in my back yard. We hike here often. We’ve been training for my upcoming hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We would hike through Monument Valley to Independence Monument (and beyond). A few weekends ago, the valley was full of big horn sheep. One day an entire herd was in the valley including half a dozen baby sheep. It was so fun watching them play on the rocks.

    Thanks for sharing your photos of this beautiful area.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a wonderful place to hike! I haven’t been down in the valley. I’m sure it’s a great habitat for the big horn sheep. Thanks for sharing your comments, Carol!


  2. Wow, just look at that rugged and beautiful desert of the Colorado Plateau – it’s an enchanting place that’s unlike anywhere else in the United States. You could spend years exploring the crevasses and peaks and still have more to discover. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a stunning drive that looks! I’m glad there are pull-outs so that you could enjoy the landscapes properly and take all these photos so that we could enjoy them too 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s something about the steep, red rocks and canyons which mystify those who visit. I’ve been to this part of the US, and I’m constantly enamored by how vast everything is– makes us humans seem significant to the world around us. Gorgeous shots!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Rebecca! The scope of these sites is humbling and awe-inspiring. We can only see a small part of them by driving through. It would be great to take some time to hike through the valley, looking up at the formations.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Try it on a bicycle! It’s a great ride. I don’t know if we were blog buddies yet (so you may not have seen the post), but our first time venturing out (heavily masked) on a trip during the first summer of COVID was over in your neck of the woods with our little travel trailer (social distancing? check!) and Grand Junction was our very first stop, precisely to cycle the Monument. It was boiling hot, but a gorgeous ride. We’d both do it again in a heartbeat.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like an adventurous and extremely scenic drive. Your pictures of the red rock landscape are stunning. I wouldn’t want to be the person driving, but that’s largely because I enjoy taking pictures along the way!

    Liked by 1 person

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