|Colorado National Monument|
|Location||Mesa County, Colorado, United States|
|Nearest city||Grand Junction, CO|
|Area||20,533 acres (83.09 km2)|
|Established||May 24, 1911|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
|Website||Colorado National Monument|
Colorado National Monument is a National Park Service unit near the city of Grand Junction, Colorado. Sheer-walled canyons cut deep into sandstone and granite–gneiss–schist rock formations. This is an area of desert land high on the Colorado Plateau, with pinyon and juniper forests on the plateau. The park hosts a wide range of wildlife, including red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, ravens, jays, desert bighorn sheep, and coyotes.Activities include hiking, horseback riding, road bicycling, and scenic drives; a visitor center on the west side contains a natural history museum and gift shop. There are scenic views from trails, Rim Rock Drive, which winds along the plateau, and the campground. Nearby are the Book Cliffs and the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, the Grand Mesa.
The monument's feature attraction is Monument Canyon, which runs the width of the park and includes rock formations such as Independence Monument, the Kissing Couple, and Coke Ovens. The monument includes 20,500 acres (32.0 sq mi; 83 km2), much of which has been recommended to Congress for designation as wilderness.
Interactive map of the Colorado National Monument
The area was first explored by John Otto, who settled in Grand Junction in the early 20th century. Prior to Otto's arrival, many area residents believed the canyons to be inaccessible to humans. Otto began building trails on the plateau and into the canyons.As word spread about his work, the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Junction sent a delegation to investigate. The delegation returned praising both Otto's work and the scenic beauty of the wilderness area, and the local newspaper began lobbying to make it a National Park. A bill was introduced and carried by the local Representatives to the U.S. Congress and Senate but a Congressional slowdown in the final months threatened the process. To ensure protection of the canyons President William Howard Taft (who had visited the area) stepped in and used the highest powers available to him via the Antiquities Act and presidential proclamation to declare the canyons as a national monument.
The area was established as Colorado National Monument on May 24, 1911. Otto was hired as the first park ranger, drawing a salary of $1 per month. For the next 16 years, he continued building and maintaining trails while living in a tent in the park.
The park became more well known in the 1980s partly due to its inclusion as a stage of the major international bicycle race, the Coors Classic. The race through the park became known as "The Tour of the Moon", due to the spectacular landscapes the race passed through on Rim Rock Drive.
The issue of national park status has arisen time and again, usually during bust cycles brought on by the Uranium industry and later oil and gas. As of June, 2014 Congressman Scott Tipton and Senator Mark Udall have carried the process closer to fruition than any other representatives since the initial effort in 1907. The two Representatives appointed an 18-member committee of locals to study the issue and learn the facts in 2011. After a ground swell of support from local residents and business owners, the Representatives then appointed a committee of five local residents to write draft legislation. The draft legislation was announced and released in early 2014. A public comment period on the draft legislation began soon after with an end date of June 29. Documentary producer Ken Burns (National Parks: America's Best Idea) weighed in of the effort, endorsing national park status for the Colorado National Monument. Burns compared the area to Seward, Alaska which overcame opposition to create Kenai Fjords National Park. Burns said Seward locals came to refer to Kenai Fjords National Park as a "permanent pipeline".
Ecologically, Colorado National Monument sits on a large area of high desert in Western Colorado, though under the Köppen climate classification, it, like neighbouring Grand Junction, is temperate semi-arid. Summers are hot and dry while winters cold with some snow. Temperatures reach 100 °F (38 °C) on 5.3 days, 90 °F (32 °C) on 57 days, and remain at or below freezing on 13 days annually.
|Climate data for Colorado National Monument (1981–2010 normals)|
|Average high °F (°C)||38.6|
|Average low °F (°C)||22.4|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.74|
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||5.8|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||5.3||5.3||6.4||5.7||5.8||4.1||6.1||7.0||6.3||6.2||5.6||5.7||69.7|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||3.9||2.9||2.3||0.6||0||0||0||0||0||0.4||1.8||4.2||16.1|
The Monument contains many hiking trails, with lengths and difficulties to suit all tastes. Summer storms can cause flash floods as well as dangerous trail conditions. Rattlesnakes are found on the Monument, and rough terrain exists everywhere, but most trails are well-maintained. Winter cross-country skiing is occasionally possible on trails such as the Liberty Cap Trail.
Serpents Trail, perhaps the most popular, follows the route of the original road to the top of the Monument. This trail is accessible by parking lots at both ends, both located off Rim Rock Drive. Serpents Trail is well-maintained and provides stunning views of both the Monument itself and the Grand Valley below. One of the shortest trails, also popular, is Devil's Kitchen. The trailhead is located near the eastern entrance of the park on Rim Rock Drive. This trail is about 1 mile long, and ends in a sandstone grotto. Devil's Kitchen trail is well suited for families with smaller children, as the hike is short and the "kitchen" itself provides plenty of opportunity for child-sized exploration.
Liberty Cap trail starts from the valley floor and climbs to the rim of the Monument. Liberty Cap itself is an ancient sand dune, and provides a beautiful view of the Grand Valley. Corkscrew Trail, closed for many years but re-opened in mid-2006, branches off the Liberty Cap and skirts a small canyon and cliffs that cannot be seen from the valley floor. This trail, the only loop trail on the Monument, is about 3 miles long and features a less rigorous climb than Liberty Cap.
Monument Canyon trail, also popular, follows Monument Canyon for about 5 miles. This trail is often hiked up-and-back, and provides close-up views of Independence Monument, the Colorado National Monument's most distinct feature, as well as a formation named Kissing Couple.The lower trailhead is accessible from CO 340 (Broadway).
No Thoroughfare Trail starts at the bottom of No Thoroughfare Canyon, near the east entrance. As the name implies, there is no official trail to the top of this canyon. The dead-end trail goes a few miles into the canyon, and up-and-back hiking is required. Some hikers have found a way to get through the entire canyon, but after a certain point the trail becomes difficult and unmarked. No Thoroughfare Canyon does have small waterfalls during the spring run-off, but is dry for most of the year.
Colorado National Monument was rated in 2017 as the best campsite in Colorado in a 50-state survey conducted by Msn.com.
Many of the early visitor facilities at Colorado National Monument were designed by the National Park Service and constructed by the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Several of these areas have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of this and in consequence of their adherence to the National Park Service Rustic design standards of the time. The entire Rim Rock Drive is a National Historic District, as well as the Serpents Trail, the Devils Kitchen Picnic Shelter, and three places in the Saddlehorn area: the Saddlehorn Caretaker's House and Garage, Saddlehorn Comfort Station, and the Saddlehorn Utility Area Historic District. The Visitor Center complex is also included as an example of the Mission 66 program.
The park's geologic record preserves three different groups of rock and sediment. The oldest rocks are Early to Middle Proterozoic gneiss and schist, including the Ute Canyon Stock. Overlying these, and separated by an angular unconformity, are mostly horizontally bedded Mesozoic sedimentary rocks, including the cliff-forming Wingate Sandstone. Overlying these are various types of Quaternary unconsolidated deposits such as alluvium, colluvium, and dunes. The sedimentary rocks are folded into monoclines by several faults, including the Redlands Thrust Fault.
Grand Canyon National Park, located in northwestern Arizona, is the 15th site in the United States to have been named as a national park. The park's central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World. The park, which covers 1,217,262 acres of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties, received more than six million recreational visitors in 2017, which is the second highest count of all American national parks after Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Grand Canyon was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. The park celebrated its 100th anniversary on February 26, 2019.
Bryce Canyon National Park is an American national park located in southwestern Utah. The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce Canyon National Park is much smaller, and sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet.
The City of Fruita is a Home Rule Municipality located in western Mesa County, Colorado, United States. Fruita is part of the Grand Junction, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area and within the Grand Valley. The geography is identified by the bordering Colorado River on the southern edge of town, the Uncompahgre Plateau known for its pinyon-juniper landscape, and the Book Cliffs range on the northern edge of the Grand Valley. The population was 12,646 at the 2010 census. Originally home to the Ute people, white farmers settled the town after founder William Pabor in 1884. Ten years later, Fruita was incorporated.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in the U.S. state of Utah near Cedar City. Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater, stretching across 3 miles (4.8 km), with a depth of over 2,000 feet (610 m). The elevation of the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level.
The Colorado Plateau, also known as the Colorado Plateau Province, is a physiographic and desert region of the Intermontane Plateaus, roughly centered on the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. This province covers an area of 336,700 km2 (130,000 mi2) within western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, southern and eastern Utah, northern Arizona, and a tiny fraction in the extreme southeast of Nevada. About 90% of the area is drained by the Colorado River and its main tributaries: the Green, San Juan, and Little Colorado. Most of the remainder of the plateau is drained by the Rio Grande and its tributaries.
The South Kaibab Trail is a hiking trail in Grand Canyon National Park, located in the U.S. state of Arizona. Unlike the Bright Angel Trail which also begins at the south rim of the Grand Canyon and leads to the Colorado River, the South Kaibab Trail follows a ridge out to Skeleton Point allowing for 360-degree views of the canyon.
The Bright Angel Trail is a hiking trail located in Grand Canyon National Park in the U.S. state of Arizona.
The Manti–La Sal National Forest covers more than 1.2 million acres (4,900 km2) and is located in the central and southeastern parts of the U.S. state of Utah and the extreme western part of Colorado. The forest is headquartered in Price, with ranger district offices in Price, Ferron, Ephraim, Moab and Monticello. The maximum elevation is Mount Peale in the La Sal Mountains, reaching 12,721 feet (3,877 m) above sea level. The La Sal Mountains are the second highest mountain range in Utah after the Uintas. Parts of the forest are included in the Bears Ears National Monument.
The Arizona Strip is the part of Arizona lying north of the Colorado River. The difficulty of crossing the Grand Canyon causes this region to have more physical and cultural connections with southern Utah and Nevada than with the rest of Arizona. The largest settlements in the Strip are Colorado City, Fredonia, and Beaver Dam, with its surrounding communities of Scenic, Littlefield and Desert Springs.
The Tonto Trail is a hiking trail on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, located in the U.S. state of Arizona.
The Bill Hall Trail is a hiking trail in Grand Canyon National Park, located in the U.S. state of Arizona.
The Plateau Point Trail is a hiking and pack trail located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, located in the U.S. state of Arizona.
The Tanner Trail is a hiking trail located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, located in the U.S. state of Arizona. The trailhead is located at Lipan Point, a prominent lookout located to the east of the Grand Canyon Village, and the trail ends at the Colorado River at Tanner Rapids.
Eldorado Canyon State Park is part of the Colorado State Park system. It is located in Boulder County near the city of Boulder. The park consists of two areas, the Inner Canyon and Crescent Meadows. The park encompasses 885 acres (3.6 km2) with a variety of recreation opportunities available. Eldorado Canyon is home to one of the world's most accessible and comprehensive rock climbing areas. This state park is open during daylight hours only, visitors are expected to leave before dusk.
Harris Wash is a long tributary of the Escalante River located in Garfield County in southern Utah, in the western United States. Over 40 miles (64 km) long, it exhibits many of the geologic features found in the Canyons of the Escalante, including high vertical canyon walls and narrow slot canyons. A popular recreational destination and a historic transportation route, it is located within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The Saddlehorn Caretaker's House and Garage, also known as the Stone House, the Rock House, and the Superintendent's Quarters is a house and asset listed as part of the National Register of Historic Places located in the Colorado National Monument.
The Serpents Trail, also known as the Trail of the Serpents and the Serpentine Trail, is a trail within the Colorado National Monument in Mesa County, Colorado, United States, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Great Western Trail is a north-south long distance multiple use route which runs from Canada to Mexico through five western states in the United States. The trail has access for both motorized and non-motorized users and traverses 4,455 miles (7,170 km) through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. Designated a National Millennium Trail.
The Hurricane Cliffs of southwest Utah and northwest Arizona are a red, limestone geographic feature, sets of cliffs along the western, eroded edge of the Kaibab Limestone; the cliffs are about 135-mi (217 km) long, with the south end terminus just north of the Grand Canyon.
Independence Monument is a 5,739-foot-elevation sandstone pillar located in Colorado National Monument, in Mesa County of western Colorado, United States. This iconic 450-foot-high landmark is situated one mile southeast of the monument's visitor center, and 9 miles (14 km) west of the community of Grand Junction, where it towers above the floor of Monument Canyon and Wedding Canyon. It is a popular climbing destination, and can be seen from Rim Rock Drive.