Colorado National Monument Travel Guide

  • Visitors Center
    Visitors Center
    by Basaic
  • Window Rock
    Window Rock
    by Basaic
  • Canyon Rim Trail
    Canyon Rim Trail
    by Basaic

Colorado National Monument Things to Do

  • Rim Rock Drive

    Follow Rim Rock Drive from the eastern end, near Devil's Kitchen, or the western end near Redlands View. Either way, you'll be treated to the same awesome views. Along the way are a number of relatively short hiking trails; most can be explored in a few minutes. Keep an eye out for storms, which can appear quite suddenly. Also watch for wildlife.

  • Big-Bold Grand Canyon

    Monument canyon is the monster of the three main canyons. It also has a creek running down the middle. You can hike down to the bottom and back up--IF YOU want. I did not. The trail looked steep to start out and switched back and forth a lot.; like about 20 times, so the go is slow. May not have been too steep, but the distance of 6 miles one way...

  • Visitor Center is Helpful and Gifts...

    This seems like a "little" Grand Canyon with the steep crevices and sheer walls of color. The 23 mile Rim Drive road is the main one going through the park, and winds up the mountains about 2,000 feet. The views are fabulous, both overlooking the park colors and valleys, but also the panorama view of the valley below. Visitor center is at the north...

  • McInnis Canyon-Black Ridge

    Overall these two rugged and back country areas encompass about 190 square miles. Black Ridge was dedicated in 1964 and has 75,500 acres. There are no roads into it, and horseback, hiking are the methods to access. McInnis also was dedicated as NCA -National Conservation Area in 2000 to keep it form being overrun by tourists and being ruined for...

  • Roads are an Adventure

    The Rim Rock Road is steep in some areas, and many 10-20 MPH curves in others; or both at once in spots. Many switchbacks need to be overtaken. The CCC built most of the roads in 1930's with nothing more than hand tools for a lot of it. John Otto, who started the park designation and stayed here 1906-1930 also carved and dug out many trails and...

  • Coke Ovens trail

    This is a nice, but watch your footing trail down toward the oven range. They are about a dozen rock formation eroded to a point that now leaves only pinnacles with balanced rocks standing out from the valley. The hike was 1/2 mile, to get the view, but you can/I did take the other trail too down the cliff face a ways. It is steep.

  • Devil's Kitchen Trail-Serpents Trail

    This is a supposed to be 3/4 miles each way hike. My calculations off the pedometer was 1.2 miles one way and I took a long route back for a 1.5 mile trek. The first half was easy walk through the sand and along rock base. The last half was a rather rigorous climb up a huge rock cliff and the incline was 300 feet. So, that was not that easy. I saw...

  • View from the Visitor's Center

    The visitor's center is typical of the National Park service providing information, exhibits, slide shows a gift and book store. Rangers or volunteers are on hand to answer any questions. There's a covered viewing area of the surrounding mountains out the back door. A few hiking trails commence here as well. The visitor's center is located 4 miles...

  • View Points East

    I believe this is the Cold Shivers Point but not 100% certain. We were fortuante as dark, ominous clouds loomed nearby yet we never were rained on.

  • Independence Monument

    The free-standing monolith was once a massive rock wall separating Monument and Wedding Canyons. Through the forces of nature the wall eroded and collapsed leaving the rock monument standing on its own.

  • West Entrance

    The west entrance of the park ascends rather quickly up the Rim Rock Drive which is 23 miles in length. There are many hairpin curves and steep drops so watch your speed. In my opinion the most dramatic viewpoints are on the west end yet the eastern section has views from the highest points.If you fly into Grand Junction, CO there are some...

  • Coke Ovens Overlook

    East of the Grand View Lookout are the massive rounded stones named the Coke Ovens. There is also a one mile roundtrip trail leading to a closer view.

  • Grand View Right

    The view to the right includes the rock formation in the foreground of the "Kissing Couple" and further back Monument Mesa. On the valley floor is Monument Canyon Trail traversing 6 miles of Monument Valley where most of the major rock formations can be seen.

  • Grand View Left

    From Grand View lookout there is a panoramic vista of valley's and ranges including a very distant view of Independence Monument.

  • Sentinel Spire

    Sentinel Spire is shown on the right side of the photo. We stopped at many of the lookouts and had hoped to hike but wind gusts were quite strong and temperatures very cool.

  • Into darkness

    On the west end of the park there are two tunnels blasted through the rugged cliffs. Headlights are required to be on, not to assist the driver but for oncoming traffic.

  • More views

    This photo was taken along the Black Ridge Trail. From this vantage point, you can see a sample of all the scenery Colorado National Monument has to offer. The plateau drops off near one of the canyons, exposing the black sandstone cliff in the distance. The view stretches even farther still, hundreds of miles toward the San Juan mountains.

  • Sandstone formations

    Like most wilderness areas, Colorado National Monument was created by the patient yet powerful forces of nature. The monuments' sandstone landscape was created by an evolutionary process which began 300 million years ago. The once mountain range uplifted, probably due to the shifting of plates beneath the Earth's surface, the sediment eroded and...

  • Stunning vistas

    Rim Rock drive climbs about 2,000 feet in a series of hairpin turned switchbacks. From the road's summit near the Visitor's Center, the town of Grand Junction is visible below, and far off on the distant horizon, the San Juan Mountains form the backdrop of this otherwise seemingly endless plateau.

  • Other observation points

    The deep canyons are perhaps the most striking feature of Colorado National Monument. The canyons were formed by the uplifting of an ancient Rocky Mountain range, millions of years ago. Today, the canyon's depths are places of solitude, as few venture that far into the region. Unfortunately, these canyons amplify the traffic and other noise from...

  • Another viewpoint

    Another photograph taken near the visitor center. In the distance, the mountains are seen, serving as a reminder that you are still in Colorado. With all this flat scenery and red rocks, its easy to get confused.


Colorado National Monument Off The Beaten Path

  • Hiking Black Ridge Trail

    This is about as steep as the trail gets. Its not too bad, and it doesn't head uphill for too long. From this vantage point, Grand Junction is almost visible below.

  • Trail in the middle of nowhere

    This photo was taken about 2 or 3 miles from the start of the trail near the visitor's center. Once the trail climbs up the ridge, it enters a broad flat plain and wanders for a couple of miles. Although its not too far away from "civilization", it feels like the middle of nowhere.

  • Hiking trails

    There are about 40 or so miles of hiking trails within Colorado National Monument. Overnight camping is permitted here as well, without a fee. One of the advantages of such an uncrowded area.


Colorado National Monument Favorites

  • Visitor's Center/ General Information

    The park is located 23 miles from Grand Junction along Hwy 340 west. The visitor's center is located towards the middle of 23 mile Rim Rock Drive which runs in a circle around the monument. Backcountry camping is permitted, but a permit may be required. For more information, contact 970

  • It is mainly a canyon

    Colorado Monument is basically a canyon. A fairly small one as compared to the larger canyons in the region. But scenic and like I said if you have the time it is worth the sidetrip to the top of the canyon--it's a nice little drive.

  • Geological Formations

    The unrelenting forces of erosion (wind and water) result in many dynamic and interesting formations in the American West. Colorado Monument has its share with hoodoos and sandstone monoliths, not to mention the sheer canyon.


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Explore Deeper into Colorado National Monument
In the middle of nowhere
Off The Beaten Path
Rim Rock drive viewpoints
Things to Do
Black Ridge Trail
Off The Beaten Path
Map of Colorado National Monument

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