Colorado National Monument- Near the Colorado & Utah Border
If you are traveling along I-70 between Colorado and Utah, consider taking a small detour to Colorado National Monument, a 32 square mile national park filled with colorful plateaus, mesas, cliffs, and canyons. Rim Rock Drive showcases 23 miles of breathtaking views. The majestic rock formations rise well over 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley of the Colorado River. Most days of the year, sunshine blankets this high-desert retreat.
While most interstate travelers only have time for the scenic drive, this national park offers campsites, picnicking, hiking (short and backcountry trails), rock climbing and bicycling. During such adventures, visitors can easily encounter mule deer, antelope ground squirrels, rock squirrels, chipmunks, lizards, pinion jays, raven, rock wrens and an assortment of other birds. Park literature also states that it is possible to spot species such as mountain lions, bobcats, coyote, desert bighorn sheep, and midget faded rattlesnakes.
The only wildlife I captured on my camera was this lizard.
Near the East entrance (Grand Junction) is the trailhead for the Serpents Trail. This 1.75-mile trail includes more than 50 switchbacks. Before it was converted to a hiking trail in the 1960s, it was considered to be “the Most Crookedest Road in the World.”
A bit farther on the drive, the city of Grand Junction is framed between the walls of the canyon. The bright sun and a small amount of haze prevented my camera from capturing a more complete view of the city.
Visitors to this site will learn how water carved through the various layers of rock. Signage illustrates how the Ute Indians as well as later settlers looked to the greenery for water sources.The ebb and flow of freezing and melting temperatures caused many of the geological changes in the rock formations.
Rock colors ranged from reds, browns, yellows, blues and greens. Some of these changes are the result of the clay minerals while the rust reddish colors are caused by the iron oxide in the sandstone. Lichen added another layer of colors that ranged from white to yellow to orange. Long black streaks are attributed to concentrates of iron and manganese. The array of colors is more breathtaking in person than via pictures.
Visitors will also see how erosion created notable shapes.
Visitors, young and old, will marvel at how these ancient mountains evolved over millions of years. If you are near the Colorado-Utah border, don’t miss this amazing site.
Location: Driving west on I70 through Colorado, take the Grand Junction exit and then reenter I-70 in Fruita. Take the opposite exits, if you are traveling east from Utah into Colorado. Fruita is approximately 20 miles from the Colorado-Utah border. Follow the national park signs to the park entrance or check the Colorado National Monument website for specific directions.
Entrance Fees: Private vehicle: $10, Motorcycle: $5, Individual (hiker, bicyclist ): $5 Good for seven consecutive days. Fees apply to those 16 years old and older. Credit card, cash or check.
All photo images were taken by Sandra Bornstein during her April 2014 trip to Colorado National Monument.
What are some of your favorite National Parks?
Sandra Bornstein is the author of the award-winning memoir, May This be the Best Year of Your life. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Her blog includes interviews with authors, book reviews of children’s books as well as articles about living abroad, traveling, and family life. Sandra frequently offers book giveaways on her website. Connect with Sandra on Facebook.
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