Over the years, we’d been through Grand Junction at least 4 times, but had never stopped there or visited any of the local attractions. After this trip, Colorado National Monument will certainly be a place we would like to visit again.
Colorado National Monument, established May 24, 1911, is located just to the west of Grand Junction. Part of the larger Colorado Plateau, the monument features canyons that cut deep into sandstone and even granite formation. It is high desert country, with elevation in the park ranging from 4000 feet to nearly 7000 feet above sea level. Summer temperatures are usually very hot, while nighttime winter temperatures can be extremely cold. Precipitation is limited, with an annual average of just over 10 inches..
The monument has a lot of hiking trails, with varying length and difficulty – we took two moderately long hikes during our visit, managing to wander off of the Devil’s Kitchen trail into and unmarked area. We also took the Monument Canyon Trail from the upper trailhead to the Coke Ovens overlook and back. The lower portion of the train from the lower trailhead to Independence Monument and back is highly recommended for visitors looking to do only one hike. It’s a 2.5 mile hike that follows the base of sandstone cliffs, offering views of towering rock formations and, in the fall, it’s the best trail to see desert bighorn sheep.
Selected Information Resources:
Karen’s Post – Colorado National Monument