Have you ever felt like you were standing on top of the world? After a day of exploring Arches National Park, we couldn’t imagine anything matching its wonder and beauty. The evening had found us relocating to our next city, Grand Junction, Colorado. Our plan was an early morning excursion into the Colorado National Monument, which lies just south of the city. It would be our last chance to do some hiking on this trip, so we wanted to soak up every minute of it. After grabbing our morning coffee, it was into the park for a morning of adventure.
Time in Grand Junction
While planning for an Epic Road Trip can require many hours of research, it’s what happens along the road that becomes our memories. Traveling through 11 states, in as many days, means lots of driving time. Positioning some strategic hiking times allowed us to keep our blood pumping. Facing a long drive back home, we felt the desire to take in lots of nature during this last hurrah. Colorado National Monument has been enjoyed by countless numbers since being established in 1911. We began the 23-mile drive at the western entrance to the park.
The main path is named Rimrock Drive and for good reason. All along the route, visitors are supplied with jaw-dropping views of the varied landscape. We proceeded slowly, so we could take it all in. Periodically, we would see bicycle riders pedaling through the hills and peaks that wind throughout the plateau. Since entering the park, it felt as though we had been constantly climbing, so we were impressed by those willing to challenge the park on a bike. Besides our human counterparts, we also spotted a group of bighorn sheep grazing along the side of the road. This was another sign that we were in High Plains territory.
On Top of the World
Our first hiking stop landed us at the visitors center. Behind the building, we found a rim trail that offers amazing views into the canyons. Seeing the monuments jutting skyward left us in awe of the powers of nature. The hard stone is layered with sandstone, which erodes to form these visually stunning displays. This rim trail was offering us plenty of stopping points, each offering its unique perspective.
Back to the car to continue our slow drive through the park. There are three tunnels that visitors navigate during their trip along Rimrock Drive. As we approached them, the hidden views beyond allowed our minds to wonder what stunning sights were awaiting us. They estimate the drive to take one hour, but that doesn’t account for stops. We knew that our time in the park would far surpass the estimate.
The engineers who designed the path made sure to include plenty of pull-offs. These are strategically placed to include views of some of the most dramatic views inside the park. At the Coke Ovens Overlook, we discovered one of the more unusual formations. These buff-colored monuments do resemble blast furnaces used in the steel industry and we were left to wonder why they had such an unusual shape. Whatever the reason, we were glad that we got to witness them firsthand.
Colorado National Monument
Continuing eastward, we were treated to more iconic views. Places with names like; Artists Point, Highland View, Cold Shivers Point, and Devil’s Kitchen all tempted us to investigate further. Trails abound throughout Colorado National Monument, but time only allowed for us to investigate a few. We did attempt to stop at as many of the pull-offs, as possible. Seeing the monuments from different directions offered diverse perspectives.
Wrapping Up Another Epic Road Trip
While our time in Colorado National Monument was limited, we stretched it out as long as we could. We find solace in the rugged beauty of the mountains and try to soak up every inspirational moment possible. While we love our home in Kansas, our excursions to the mountains are always a thrill. We have decided that living in the mountains would probably create an opportunity for us to lose our amazement with them, so we will just have to take them in with our periodic visits. Where do you find your favorite mountain views?
Pin the Colorado National Monument for later!