TR: Colorado National Monument (6 Sept 2014)

(Last Updated On: September 15, 2014)

After my mom and I toured the Grand Mesa the day before, we spent some time in Grand Junction and ended up in the scenic Colorado National Monument. I’d driven through it before, and had done some hikes up the canyons. But, that was many years ago. It was good to travel back to a very scenic spot!

canyon near visitors center in the Colorado National Monument.
Looking up the canyon from the Visitor’s Center.

We began our scenic drive from the northern entrance of the Colorado National Monument near Fruita. The road, called Rim Rock Drive, winds people through the Colorado National Monument and is amazing. Another one built by the CCC during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, this road was one of many New Deal projects commissioned by FDR. So many cool projects were built at that time that are still so useful today.

Looking down the canyon from the Visitor's Center overlook in the Colorado National Monument.
Looking down the canyon from the Visitor’s Center overlook.

Enjoying the views from the Visitor's Center in the Colorado National Monument
Enjoying the views from the Visitor’s Center.
Red and green in the Colorado National Monument.
Even though it is September, the foliage is still quite green and contrasts brightly against the red rock.

But, the conservation of the Colorado National Monument is really all due to one guy – John Otto. He wrote letters to President Taft and the Daily Sentinel, almost on a daily basis, promoting the conservation of this area. And, due to John Otto’s hard work, it became a National Monument in 1911.

Looking down Wedding Canyon toward Fruita from Otto's Trail in the Colorado National Monument.
Looking down Wedding Canyon toward Fruita from Otto’s Trail.
The famed Independence Rock, with Monument Canyon behind and the Grand Mesa in the distance at the Colorado National Monument.
The famed Independence Rock, with Monument Canyon behind and the Grand Mesa in the distance.
Looking outward from the viewpoint at the end of Otto's Trail at the Colorado National Monument.
Looking outward from the viewpoint at the end of Otto’s Trail.
Enjoying the desert scenes on Otto's Trail at the Colorado National Monument.
Enjoying the desert scenes on Otto’s Trail.

Otto said he wanted the land to be a monument to honor American patriotism. Hence, he named many of the rock features with patriotic themes. But, the only one that has really stuck is the famed Independence Monument. Perhaps this is because John Otto and his wife inscribed the Declaration of Independence on a boulder below Independence Rock.

Another view of Independence Monument in Colorado National Monument
Another view of Independence Monument.
Independence Rock at Colorado National Monument.
Independence Rock with Wedding Canyon on the left and Monument Canyon on the right.
The Coke Ovens at Colorado National Monument.
The Coke Ovens.

John Otto was a progressive man, fighting against racism & communism, and promoting women’s suffrage, the growth of scenic highways, and land conservation. He was so progressive, that eventually he was more or less forced to leave the Grand Valley and lived out his remaining years as more or less a hermit in California. Nonetheless, we owe John Otto a lot for recognizing and working to conserve what is today the Colorado National Monument.

Columbus Canyon at the Colorado National Monument.
Columbus Canyon.
Columbus Canyon creates the perfect frame for Grand Junction in the Colorado National Monument
Columbus Canyon creates the perfect frame for Grand Junction.

The Colorado National Monument is certainly a special spot. I’d like to spend more time exploring it more as there are many scenic trails in the park. As temperatures are cooling in the mountains, perhaps some more desert trips are in store for the fall 🙂

For More Information

John Otto- Colorado National Monument Founder’s Great and Bold Legacy
National Park Service – Colorado National Monument

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

Latest posts by Brittany Walker Konsella (see all)

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

2 thoughts on “TR: Colorado National Monument (6 Sept 2014)

  • September 15, 2014 at 8:23 pm
    Permalink

    Great photos and write up Brittany. Brings back many wonderful memories of a spectacular place. As you know we lived right at the fence line at the bottom of Columbus Canyon. Spent many days hiking in there or riding my bike over Rimrock Drive. Such a special place – we have a lot to thank John Otto for.

  • September 15, 2014 at 9:28 pm
    Permalink

    Ann – You literally had the Monument in your backyard 😉 But, now you have Mt. Sopris. Life is pretty good no matter how you look at it! Although, I kinda miss you guys living in GJ 🙂

Got something to say? We love your comments!