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Colorado National Monument

September 11, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The Colorado National Monument was the last national park on our list of things to see on this trip. The 23-mile Rim Rock Drive crosses the monument with Fruita and Grand Junction on either end. There are a number of scenic vistas along the road, some with short walks from the pullouts and others that are longer, providing numerous vantage points and compositional opportunities.


Independence Monument from Otto's TrailIndependence Monument from Otto's Trail


Looking south into Wedding and Monument Canyons, freestanding rock formations called monoliths are the dominant and most dramatic feature of the park. The towering monoliths have descriptive names such as the Praying Hands, Pipe Organ, Kissing Couple and Independence Monument. They are the result of differing rates of weathering and erosion in adjacent layers of hard and soft rock.


Monoliths in Monument Canyon from the Window Rock TrailMonoliths in Monument Canyon from the Window Rock Trail


Our plan was to visit the park during an afternoon and following morning to get the best light from the various viewpoints, some of which are better in the morning and some better in the afternoon/evening. However, the afternoon we arrived provided us mostly cloudy skies and no contrast on the rock formations. Hoping for better conditions for sunrise the next morning, we were greeted by a stubborn cloud deck over the Book Cliffs, obscuring the rising sun for an hour or so. But after that, we had great conditions.


Independence Monument from Grand View, with the Book Cliffs in the distanceIndependence Monument from Grand View, with the Book Cliffs in the distance


After completing the Rim Rock Drive, we stopped to hike to Devils Kitchen, a 1.5-mile round trip moderate hike. Unfortunately, we missed a turn and turned it into a 2.5-mile adventure by following other hikers who didn’t know where they were going. By scrambling up the rocks, we found our way to the kitchen--it was a devil of a time getting there. There were several families there with young children, many of them moving around and upon the rocks with great ease.


Looking into the Devils KitchenLooking into the Devils Kitchen


To see more images from the Colorado National Monument, click here.


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