Colorado National Monument preserves a picturesque region of Colorado’s plateau and canyon country that is less frequently visited than other Colorado national parks. Dramatic red rock monoliths, sheer rock walls, and sweeping canyon vistas characterize the park. Historic Rim Rock Drive winds along 23 miles of breathtaking panoramic views and numerous overlooks, where trails lead across mesa tops to spectacular overlooks or into backcountry canyons. The monument encompasses some 20,500 acres, much of which has been recommended to Congress for designation as wilderness. At an average elevation of 6,000 feet at the rim, the climate is relatively mild but can change rapidly to snow in the winter or thunderstorms in the summer. Picnicking and camping are available in the park.
Wow, what a great drive.” Thats what everybody says on their first trip over The Colorado National Monument.
This is canyon country, big, bold and rugged, but magnificently beautiful. Huge towers of red sandstone standing in a picturesque canyon frame a panoramic view of Grand Junction and the Grand Valley.
West Central Colorado, near the towns of Fruita and Grand Junction and close to the Utah border
5,787 feet at the Visitor Center and 6,640 feet at the high point on Rim Rock Drive; valley floor of the monument is over 4,500 feet
Monument open all year; spring and fall are great seasons to visit
VISITOR CENTER: (970)858-3617; open all year except Christmas Day
VISITING THE PARK
A minimum visit of about a half day should include at least a short stop at the Visitor Center and a drive on the Rim Rock Road to enjoy its many scenic overlooks. If you have more time, spend two hours or so hiking the Canyon Rim and Alcove Nature trails starting at the Visitor Center. For those staying more than a day, there are many developed and backcountry trails that will satisfy almost anyone with an interest in rugged scenery, geology, plants, and animals.
The Colorado National Monument is not a big park. Your can drive over the monument in an hour, if you wish. Just 15 Minutes from downtown Grand Junction, it is a land of incredible natural wonders.
Colorado National Monument towers over the Grand valley. It is one of the first things you see from any place in Grand Junction or Fruita. And yet it remains relationally unknown outside of Western Colorado. The Monument is one of our overlooked jewels.
The Colorado National Monument rises over 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley. It is a semi-desert land of deep canyons with sheer walls and towering natural rock sculptures. The grand scale of the scenery is overpowering.
The best way to see the monument is to take a short trip in late afternoon over Rim Rock Drive.
The Colorado National Monument becomes a special place at sun-set. The glorious views slowly fade to the night and the lengthen afternoon shadows creates a natural light show for you. It is magnificent and then the lights of Grand Junction begin to glow and sparkle in the distance.
The road climbs from Grand Junction to the parks high country, and then winds along the canyons rim. It is fully paved and while it is steep and windy for about four mile the road is well-maintained, wide, and well-protected with guard rails.
There are plenty of places where you can pull over and take pictures.Be sure to stop at “Cold Shivers Point”. The road is not difficult to drive. Just take your time and enjoy the ride.
The Visitors Center
The visitor center is only 4 miles from the Fruita entrance. It is a good place to start your visit. It has information, exhibits, two audiovisual programs, and a bookstore with maps and other publications.
The friendly and knowledgeable volunteers on hand will answer questions and help you with your plans. Be sure to get a map of the monument. And see the introductory slide program. It is well worth your 30 minutes.
The visitor center is open every day, except Christmas, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter months and 8 a.m. 6 p.m. in the summer.
The entrance fee to the park is $7 per vehicle (good for seven days).
Permanent U.S. residents 62 years or older may purchase a $10 Golden Age Passport, which allows lifetime free admission into all national park areas and a 50% discount on camping fees.
A $50 National Park Pass is available. This pass allows free entrance to all National parks
Saddlehorn Campground is the only campground. It is a good, clean, safe, campground convenient located near the visitor center and only 6 miles from good restaurants in Fruita. It would make a good base camp for one or two days while you exploring the Fruita-Grand Junction Area.
Campsites are available first-come, first-served. Each site offers a table, charcoal grill, and access to restrooms with flush toilets and water available. Each site includes a picnic table, a charcoal-only grill, and a parking area. There are no electric hookups or showers and wood fires are not permitted anywhere in the monument.
It has 80 sites for tents and recreational vehicles, self-registration on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping fees and is $10.00 per night with a seven-person per site limit.
If you prefer backcountry camping, free permits are available at the visitors center.
You can reach The Colorado National Monument at 970-858-3617.
Canyon Rim Trail
An excellent way to experience the Spring season is to visit Colorado National Monument and hike the Canyon Rim Trail, which offers scenic panoramic views of the canyon and plateau country of Colorado and a variety of colorful blooming plants along the way. The trail, following the cliff’s edge of Wedding Canyon, stretches from the monument’s Visitor Center on Rim Rock Drive to a scenic overlook at Book Cliffs View. This half-mile long trail provides a great introduction to the geology, animal, and plant life of the monument, and is especially enjoyable early in the morning or in late afternoon.
A Visitor Center brochure identifies some of the plants found on the trail. These plants include Utah juniper, with its blueberries seen in spring and summer, Pinyon pine, Mormon tea (Ephedra), and dwarf sagebrush. Yucca, with bright white blooms in May, and prickly pear cactus, with yellow or hot pink flowers, are also plentiful. Common wildlife on the trail includes mule deer and birds, such as the bright blue scrub jay, canyon wren, and white-throated swift. Golden eagles and red-tailed hawks are often seen gliding through the canyons. There are also several types of lizards that live in the monument and are active in spring — Collared, Sagebrush, and Whiptail.
View provides a shady place to rest and admire the magnificent view. The Book Cliffs lie to the far North, and the Colorado River winds through the Grand Valley 2000 feet below the overlook. En route back to the Visitor Center a sign identifies several of the imposing sandstone formations in the canyons below — Kissing Couple, Praying Hands, and Pipe Organ.
Allow at least an hour to enjoy this hike, or longer if you wish to include an additional short walk along the Window Rock Trial that connects with Canon Rim Trail. It is advisable to carefully supervise children, as there are steep dropoffs along this trail.