by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved

Colorado

National Monument - Colorado

Colorado National Monument (locally referred to as The Monument) is 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 pinion 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.

maps

Official Visitor Map of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado - Visitor Map

Official Visitor Map of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

https://www.nps.gov/colm/index.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_National_Monument Colorado National Monument (locally referred to as The Monument) is 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 pinion 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. Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles. Driving Westbound on Highway I-70 towards Grand Junction, Exit 31 (Horizon Drive). Follow signs through Grand Junction to the east entrance. The visitor center and campground are 19 miles from the east entrance. Eastbound on Highway I-70 take Exit 19 (Fruita). Turn south on Highway 340 to the west entrance, which is approximately three miles from Fruita. The visitor center and campground are four miles up from the west entrance. Saddlehorn Visitor Center For first hand information, maps, and brochures, the visitor center is a good place to start your adventure. It is located four miles from the Fruita Entrance and near Saddlehorn Campground. It is open every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day. The visitor center includes educational exhibits, an information desk staffed with knowledgeable rangers and volunteers, two twelve minutes movies and a bookstore operated by Colorado National Monument Association. Westbound on Highway I-70 towards Grand Junction, Exit 31 (Horizon Drive). Follow signs through Grand Junction to the east entrance. The visitor center and campground are 19 miles from the east entrance. Eastbound on Highway I-70 take Exit 19 (Fruita). Turn south on Highway 340 to the west entrance, which is approximately three miles from Fruita. The visitor center and campground are four miles up from the west entrance. Saddlehorn Campground Saddlehorn Campground is 4 miles from the west (Fruita) entrance. It is located in an area of pinyon pine and Utah juniper trees within walking distance of the visitor center. It is open year-round. Sites cost $22 a night and loop A is open year round. Saddlehorn Campground Fee 22.00 Fee is per night. Maximum of 14 nights. Loops A and B - Seven (7) person per site limit, three (3) tents per site, and two (2) vehicles per site. Loop C - Seven (7) person per site limit, 1 vehicle, no trailers or large RVs Campsite at Saddlehorn Campground Picnic table nestled among the trees with a view of canyon beyond. A quiet campsite at Saddlehorn Campground. Camping at Colorado National Monument View through the trees of green tent pitched in campground. Tent camping at Saddlehorn Campground Winter Camping at Saddlehorn Campground Two people wearing jackets and hats near tent with snow behind tent Winter Camping at Saddlehorn Campground Independence Monument View of Independence Monument with Grand Valley in background. Taken from Rim Rock Rock Drive. View of Independence Monument with Grand Valley in background. Taken from Rim Rock Rock Drive. Monument Canyon Monument Canyon with red rock walls and a valley with rolling landscape covered with pinyon trees Monument Canyon Colorado National Monument Visitor Center Visitor Center with American Flag Colorado National Monument Visitor Center Rim Rock Drive Looking down from canyon rim at a portion of the historic Rim Rock Drive Rim Rock Drive was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Balanced Rock Rock spire with large boulder balancing on top. Balanced Rock NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Colorado National Monument, Colorado Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. Links to products from Baseline Geologic and Soil Resources Inventories provide access to maps and reports. [Site Under Development] rock bluff with slope below 2010 Freeman Tilden Award Recipients Seven rangers were awarded with a national or regional 2010 Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation. Learn more about their exciting and innovative projects. Portrait of John Kirkpatrick Landbird Monitoring in Northern Colorado Plateau Network Parks, 2018 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2018. Small, bright-orange bird with yellowish underfeathers. About The Southern Paiute “Paa” ute means water ute, and explains the Southern Paiute preference for living near water sources. The Spanish explorer Escalante kept detailed journals of his travels in the Southwest and made notes concerning Southern Paiute horticulture, writing in 1776, that there were “well dug irrigation ditches” being used to water small fields of corn, pumpkins, squash, and sunflowers. Southern Paiute boy by wickiup shelter. What We’re Learning and Why it Matters: Long-Term Monitoring on the Northern Colorado Plateau Knowing which key natural resources are found in the national parks, and whether they're stable or changing, helps decisionmakers make sound choices. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network is building that knowledge. After more than ten years of monitoring, we've learned a lot about park ecosystems, how they're changing, and what they may look like in the days to come. Find out what we’ve learned and how it’s being used to help managers plan for the future. Man stands in a stream, looking down at a handheld gauge. Landbird Population Trends in the Northern Colorado Plateau Network, 2019 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2019. Bald eagle Invasive Exotic Plant Monitoring at Colorado National Monument, 2017 Invasive exotic plants are one of the most significant threats to natural resources in the national parks today. To provide early warning of weed invasions, the Northern Colorado Plateau Network monitors target plants in park areas where they are likely to first establish: along roads, trails, and waterways. Find out what we learned at Colorado National Monument in 2017. Topo map with many colored dots representing location and size of invasive exotic plant patches Series: Geologic Time Periods in the Mesozoic Era The Mesozoic Era (251.9 to 66 million years ago) was the "Age of Reptiles." During the Mesozoic, Pangaea began separating into the modern continents, and the modern Rocky Mountains rose. Dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs ruled the land and air. As climate changed and rapid plate tectonics resulted in shallow ocean basins, sea levels rose world-wide and seas expanded across the center of North America. fossil dinosaur skull in rock face Series: National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geoheritage-conservation.htm">geoheritage</a> and <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geodiversity.htm">geodiversity</a> resources and values all across the National Park System to support science-based management and education. The <a href="https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1088/index.htm">NPS Geologic Resources Division</a> and many parks work with National and International <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/park-geology.htm">geoconservation</a> communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available. park scene mountains Connecting Fire History and Fire Management at Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument supports a persistent pinyon-juniper (PJ) woodland that has not been disturbed by large, stand-replacing fires since modern fire recordkeeping began. Due to their long fire-free intervals, these persistent woodlands offer a rare look at how long-term influences, such as climatic variability or disturbances other than fire, can influence woodland structure and development. Topo map showing green dots and brown gradient representing areas of different tree age. Triassic Period—251.9 to 201.3 MYA The brightly colored Triassic rocks of Petrified Forest National Park yield not only the petrified trees but many other plant and animal fossils. fossil footprint on stone Landbird Population Trends in the Northern Colorado Plateau Network, 2020 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2020. Small beige bird with black beak and feet, brown back. Birds and Observing Them Birds are found just about everywhere. Even when you can’t see them, you can often hear them. Bird diversity changes depending on location and season. Birds can be enjoyed in so many different ways: watching their activity, listening to their songs, noting their plumage, or capturing their likeness through art. Use this guide to learn more about birds and birding. A flock of American avocets swim on a lake. Monitoring From Space: Using Satellite Imagery to Measure Landscape Conditions on the Ground Scientists from the Northern Colorado Plateau Network travel thousands of miles each year to collect data on plants, soils, and water across network parks. But it would be impossible to cover every square inch of the Northern Colorado Plateau with boots on the ground. Instead, we simultaneously monitor the parks with boots in space—satellite data that provide information at a much broader scale. Satellite and Earth in space Top 10 Tips for Visiting Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument rangers share their top 10 insider tips to help you #PlanLikeAParkRanger. Three hikers travel on rocky path. Invasive Exotic Plant Monitoring at Colorado National Monument Invasive exotic plants are one of the most significant threats to natural resources in the national parks today. To provide early warning of weed invasions, the Northern Colorado Plateau Network monitors target plants in park areas where they are likely to first establish: along roads, trails, and waterways. Find out what we've learned at Colorado National Monument. Topo map with many colored dots representing location and size of invasive exotic plant patches Localized Drought Impacts on Northern Colorado Plateau Landbirds Birds of the desert southwest, a climate-change hotspot, are among the most vulnerable groups in the US. To help park managers plan for those changes, scientists evaluated the influence of water deficit on landbird communities at 11 national parks in Utah and Colorado. The results will help land managers to focus conservation efforts on places where certain species are most vulnerable to projected climate changes. A man wearing a clipboard looks through binoculars at dawn in field of sagebrush
Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails Otto’s Trail Monument Canyon The Island Independence Monument Praying Hands Pipe Organ Wedding Canyon This hike along Canyon Rim Trail (1/2 mile one-way) leading to Window Rock Trail (1/4 mile one-way) provides an excellent introduction to the natural wonders of Colorado National Monument. Bold, big, and brilliantly colored, the steep-walled canyons and towering masses of naturally sculpted rock found here provide inspiration to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Beginning from the back porch of the Visitor Center, hike along the Canyon Rim Trail to the Bookcliff Overlook and continue on the adjoining Window Rock Trail. Both trails wind along the cliff edge with views of large, towering rock formations. It takes 30-45 minutes to walk both trails and return to the Visitor Center. Use the map on the reverse of this page for guidance. Geology The Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails are situated on the Kayenta Sandstone Formation. This sandstone is more resistant to erosion than the formations above and below it so it forms ledges. The concave “smile” shaped layers seen along the trail are ancient stream channels. At the time these rocks were deposited, the climate was much different than today, rainfall became more abundant and shallow streams flowed across the area. As you look south into Wedding and Monument Canyons, you will see large concentrations of freestanding rock formations called monoliths. These towering rock monoliths have descriptive names such as Flora The dominate lifezone here is the PinyonJuniper Woodland - A plant community found throughout the Colorado Plateau between the elevations of 4,500 and 6,500 feet. The pinyon-juniper woodland consists of dwarfed, deep rooted, evenly spaced pinyon pine and Utah juniper trees separated by open areas with sparse vegetation: a landscape referred to as the pygmy forest. The pinyon pine has short needles grouped in bundles of two and small cones bearing large, edible seeds. Drought usually limits the tree’s growth to heights of thirty feet or less, giving the tree a stunted appearance. the Praying Hands, Pipe Organ, Kissing Couple and Independence Monument (see above photo). Monoliths are the most dramatic rock features of the Colorado National Monument, resulting from differing rates of weathering and erosion in adjacent layers of hard and soft rock. In the distance, on the north side of the valley, the Bookcliffs rise from the floor of the Grand Valley to make the north boundary of the valley all the way to Price, Utah. The arid sands of the Mesa Verde Formation form the protective cap layer that supports the steep, easily weathered soft Mancos Shale slopes from eroding away. Like living sculpture, the gnarled form of Utah juniper is the other common evergreen in Colorado National Monument. The frosty blue berries of the Utah juniper are actually modified cones in which the seeds are encapsulated in a waxy, hard shell. The Utah juniper leaves appear as tiny overlapping scales along the branches, giving the tree a distinctive appearance. Among the trees in the pinyon-juniper woodland are smatterings of cacti, yucca, grasses and semidesert shrubs such as cliffrose, Mormon tea, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush and mountain mahogany. This vegetation provides food and shelter for animals living in the Monument. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Conclusion After establishing of Colorado National Monument in 1916, this area was accessible only by foot or horseback for many years. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was created in 1933 during America’s worst depression and dissolved in 1942. Across the nation from 1933 to 1942, approximately three million young men worked for various CCC projects. In 1933, Company 824 of the CCC and National Park Service employees built Camp NM-2-C near the present site of the Visitor Center (see above photo). Nothing remains of these buildings today, but see if you can determine their location using the picture and the clues it contains. We hope you enjoyed your hike along the Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails. Perhaps you saw lizards, heard the call of a red-tailed hawk or smelled the crispness of sage. While Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trail offers many opportunities for stillness and solitude, they also offer a chance to reflect on the extraordinary examples of erosion seen here in Colorado National Monument. Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails/Saddlehorn Campground EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA The CCC worked in Colorado National Monument alongside Local Experienced Men (LEMs) and National Park Service employees to build the scenic Rim Rock Drive which included rock blasting, trail making, fencing and building structures. Some of the handiwork of Company 824 can still be seen today – along Rim Rock Drive, the Window Rock Trail and the caretaker’s r
Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Colorado National Monument Fruita, CO 81521 Hiking in the Monument Some land outside the park boundary is privately owned. Please respect the owners’ rights and do not trespass. North 0.5 km 0 Drinking Water Hiking Trail Hiking trailhead Picnic Area Unmaintained Trail Campground Shelter Unpaved Road 1 0.5 mile 0 Ranger Station 1 To Fruita and 70 (exit 19) West Entrance 340 CA NY ON FR UI TA 5 0.2 Visitor Center i 0.5 n R yo n yo Can g Can n i d d We 0.5 Canyon 2.5 Independence Monument Otto’s Trail White Rocks . c. 0. c.c 75 0.5 Upper Monument Canyon Coke Ovens ay w rk Pa Br oa dw ds South Broadway ay an LD GO AR ST ON NY A C dl 3.0 3.5 Kissing Couple McINNIS CANYONS NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA Mushroom Rock T CANYON MONUMEN Black Ridge t en um n o M Re Alcove Nature Trail 2.5 Window Rock m 6 0. 5 0. Lower Monument Canyon Saddlehorn Weddin g Ca ny on Kodels Fruita Dugw ay Riggs Hill 340 South Broadway Ca p 0.5 Upper LibertyCap 1.6 p e r Li be rty 0.5 Up 0.5 M O N U MEN T M E SA Liberty Cap 5.5 . ON Corkscrew To Grand Junction M Fallen Rock NY ON Devils Kitchen Picnic Area Tunnel Ser pen Devils Kitchen 1.75 ts Tra il Tra il First Pool First Waterfall Monument Canyon Lower TH to Independence Upper TH to Independence Upper TH to Lower TH One-Way 2.5 mi 3.5 mi 6.0 mi Gain/Loss +500’ -840’ -1,440’ 0.75 mi +300’ Serpents Trail 1.75 mi +770’ Old Gordon Trail 4.0 mi +1,600’ Echo Canyon 1.5 mi +300’ 1.0 mi 2.0 mi +200’ +600’ 1.5 mi 5.5 mi 7.0 mi +1,100’ -650’ -1,750’ 3.3 mi 6.5 mi +760’ -1,640’ Black Ridge Trail VC to Up. Liberty Cap TH 5.5 mi VC to CCC Trail Junction 3.0 mi Up. Liberty Cap TH to CCC Trail 2.5 mi +810’ +810’ +810’ No Thoroughfare Canyon First Pool First Waterfall Liberty Cap Trail Wildwood TH to Liberty Cap Upper TH to Liberty Cap Upper TH to Wildwood TH Corkscrew Trail Loop Ute Canyon TH to Wildwood TH e P NO TH OR G OU A HF C RE Y AN ON 6.5 Second Waterfall (Seasonal) 0 4. The Ribbon (BLM) To Grand Junction Upper No Thoroughfare Canyon Litt P le ark Roa d /C S Ro Devils Kitchen lad tG Eas a Ro ark Road d/DS on rd Old G Mileage Elevation o (Seasonal) Trails at a Glance 1.5 Devils Kitchen ECHO CANYON 8 0. 0.5 0.8 0.2 5 CO LU M BU S RE D CA on East Entrance ON 0.5 Ute Canyon ad Ro um 4. 0 e riv en t D NY ck CA Ro UT E CA NY Rd m Ri a d e P ar k West Gl /16 ½ South Camp Road W ild w oo dD r 2.5 Wildwood 0.2 Canyo n 2.0 Tunnels ad Backcountry Trails Monument Canyon Devils Kitchen Trailheads Lower Trailhead: Located off of Hwy 340. Drive 2.1 miles east of the West Entrance and turn right onto a dirt driveway leading to the trailhead parking area. Trailhead: Located on Rim Rock Drive near the East Entrance. No Thoroughfare Canyon gives hikers the opportunity to wander through a narrow canyon in the oldest rock layer in the park. Follow the wash for approximately 1 mile to the First Pool and turn around, or continue for 0.8 miles to the First Waterfall. An unmaintained route continues past the waterfall for 6.5 miles to the upper trailhead. (1-2 miles one-way; moderate, rocky terrain) Upper Trailhead: Located on Rim Rock Drive 3.8 miles east of the Visitor Center. Lower Monument Canyon TH to Independence Monument offers spectacular views of towering rock formations. It is also the best trail to see desert bighorn sheep during the fall. For visitors looking to do only one hike in the Monument, look no further. The 2.5 mile trail follows the base of sandstone cliffs to the massive Independence Monument. (2.5 miles one-way, +500’; moderate) Devils Kitchen, a large sandstone monolith, is reached by following the No Thoroughfare Canyon Trail for 0.25 miles to a signed junction directing hikers to turn left. The trail follows rock stairs and cairns up slickrock to a large opening into Devils Kitchen. (0.75 miles one-way, +300’; easy, rocky terrain) Lower Monument Canyon and Wedding Canyon Loop is best done by following the directions above to the base of Independence Monument. Once at the base turn right and follow the unmaintained trail through Wedding Canyon for 2.5 miles back to the trailhead. (5 mile loop, +500’; moderate, rocky terrain) Echo Canyon’s shady, interior offers an escape from the relentless midsummer heat. Follow the Old Gordon Trail for 0.5 miles to a signed junction directing hikers down the slickrock into Echo Canyon. (1.5 miles one-way, +300’; easy) Upper Monument Canyon TH to Independence Monument takes hikers through the more remote portions of Monument Canyon on the way to Independence Monument. The trail descends steeply for 1 mile to the floor of the canyon and then winds around the base of the sandstone cliffs passing under Kissing Couple and several unnamed monoliths (rock towers) on the way to Indep
North North Horse Pack Animals Monument Horse & Accessible Trailsin ofthe Colorado National Monument To Fruita and 70 (exit 19) CA NY ON Horse & Pack Animals Allowed Hiking trailhead Picnic Area Hiking Trail Campground Shelter Saddlehorn 2.5 M en um on tC anyon 0.5 mile 0 1 2.5 Independence Monument Otto’s Trail 1 Mushroom Rock White Rocks Br Pa South Broadway rk w ay ON NY oa dw ds 3.5 3.0 0.5 Upper Monument Canyon G D OL AR ST CA ay CANYON cc 0. c 75 T MONUMEN Kissing Couple an 0 Alcove Nature Trail Weddin g Ca nyo n 0. 6 m i 0.5 n R yo n yo Can g Can n ddi .5 e W 0 0.5 km 0 P dl FR UI TA Lower Monument Canyon Re 2.0 Fruita Dugw ay Coke Ovens Riggs Hill 340 South Broadway 0.5 Cap 0.5 Upper LibertyCap 1.6 p e r Li be rty 0.5 Up Liberty Cap P South Camp Road W ild w oo dD r 2.5 Wildwood MO N U MEN T M ESA 0.2 5.5 Corkscrew M 0.5 Fallen Rock RE D CA NY ON on East Entrance Devils Kitchen Picnic Area Tunnel Ser Devils Kitchen P 1.75 pen ts Tra il Tra il First Pool 8 0. First Waterfall tG Eas lad e P a Ro ark NO Glade Park (Community) TH O U RO GH FA C RE Y AN ON o rd n Old G o (Seasonal) Road d/DS 1.5 Devils Kitchen ECHO CANYON 0.5 0.8 0.2 5 CO LU M BU S Ute Canyon ad Ro um 4. 0 e riv en t D ON ck NY Ro UT Ri m E CA NY a d e P ar k West Gl /16 ½ Rd . ON To Grand Junction CA Canyo n Kodels 340 Window 0.25 Rock .5 Black Ridge Trailer Parking Tunnels Visitor Center McINNIS CANYONS NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA P Ranger Station West Entrance 6.5 0 4. Second Waterfall (Seasonal) The Ribbon (BLM) To Grand Junction rk / CS Ro ad Upper No Thoroughfare Canyon le Litt Park Road t Lit / CS Ro ad le Pa Trail Options Upper Liberty Cap Trail Trailhead: From the Visitor Center follow Rim Rock Drive for approximately 6.5 miles and turn left into a gravel parking area. Horses are allowed on the first 5.0 miles of the Upper Liberty Cap Trail. Riders must turn around before the steep switchbacks leading to the Liberty Cap rock formation. Black Ridge Trail Trailhead: Start at the Upper Liberty Cap Trailhead on Rim Rock Drive. From the Visitor Center follow Rim Rock Drive for approximately 6.5 miles and turn left into a gravel parking area. Horses are allowed on the first 3.0 miles Black Ridge Trail from the Upper Liberty Cap Trailhead to the Monument boundary with BLM land (approximately 0.5 miles past the junction with the CCC Trail). Monument Canyon Trail Trailhead: From the West Entrance turn right onto Hwy 340 and drive 2.1 miles. Turn right onto a dirt driveway leading to the trailhead parking area. Horses are allowed on the first 5.5 miles of the Monument Canyon Trail from the Lower Trailhead to the base of the steep ascent to Rim Rock Drive (approximately 0.5 miles before the Upper Trailhead). Old Gordon Trail Trailhead: Park at the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area. Located 0.2 miles up Rim Rock Drive from the East Entrance. Horses are allowed on the entire length of the 4 mile long Old Gordon Trail; from the Devils Kitchen Trailhead to its terminus at the Monument Boundary with BLM land. Horse & Pack Animal Regulations • Use of horses on all trails listed above will be permitted when trail conditions are dry. • Animals will not be allowed within the confines of any recognizable or otherwise identified archeological or historic site (excluding historic trails listed above). • Horses and pack animals will not be tied or tethered in a manner which damages vegetation or which allows grazing on vegetation in the monument. • Horse and pack animals will be limited to no more than six in number for any group. Backcountry Travel For More Information Colorado National Monument 1750 Rim Rock Drive Fruita, CO 81521 (970)858-3617 x 360 www.nps.gov/colm Safety • Inappropriate use of horse and pack animals, or use under conditions that pose an unnecessary risk or danger to these animals, is not permitted. • Animal manure deposited at trailheads and parking areas must be immediately removed by the responsible animal owner. • As a courtesy, and for safety, animals will maintain a slow walk when approaching visitors on foot, or other riders. • Horses are prohibited in the Saddlehorn Campground except during transport in a trailer. Trail Regulations • Be prepared. Always carry a topo map, extra clothing, plenty of water, and a flashlight. • Pets are only allowed on paved surfaces. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails. • Desert trails can be hard to follow. If you become lost, stay in one place and call for help. • Vehicles and bicycles must stay on roads. • Protect your skin. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Pay attention to rapidly changing weather. If lightning is in the area, stay in low-lying areas and return to your vehicle if possible. • In case of emergency call 911. • Leave No Trace. Please leave all natural and cultural objects where you find the
National Park Service Department of the Interior Colorado National Monument Fruita, CO 81521 Motor Coach Guide for Rim Rock Drive W elcome to Colorado National Monument! Your guests are about to experience one of the grandest scenic drives in the American West. Rim Rock Drive offers 23 miles of twists and turns above red rock canyons and alongside pinyon-juniper forest. The road — built from 1931 to 1950 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Local Experienced Men (LEMs), and the Works Project Administration (WPA) — is inseparable from the identity of the monument. The drive provides access to Saddlehorn Visitor Center and Campground, three picnic areas, 19 signed overlooks, and 14 hiking trails. Easy access to overlooks will allow your guests to gaze upon towering shrines and scan canyons for raptors. Look for bighorn sheep along the drive. Allow at least one hour driving time, plus additional time for walking, photography, or stopping at pullouts. Road Grades From the west entrance to the Saddlehorn Visitor Center and from the east entrance to Cold Shivers Point, the grade is between 6-9 percent (steeper from the east side). The west entrance is at 4690 feet; the highest point in the park is 6640 feet; and the east entrance is at 4930 feet. Tunnel Dimensions Clearance ranges from a low of 11’5” at a point two feet from the curb to a maximum of 16’1” above the center of the road. • • • Fees Lower West Tunnel - 236 feet long Upper West Tunnel - 182 feet long East Tunnel - 530 feet long Tour companies pay $100 for a coach with a seating capacity of 26 or more passengers. The fee is paid at the entrance station by cash, check, or credit card. If paying by check, the tour operator must write on the check either the taxpayer ID number of the business or the social security number of the tour operator. Cold Shivers Point Overlook Stops (1) Book Cliffs View along Saddlehorn Campground road, see Saddlehorn Picnic Area (below) for directions. Pull-in pull-out on one-way road. (2) Independence Monument View 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of the visitor center along Rim Rock Drive. Accessible. Turning radius allows you to continue east or west. Experience dramatic views of Independence Monument. (3) Cold Shivers Point 15.5 miles (24.9 km) east of the visitor center. Accessible. Pull-in pull-out, continue east. (4) Devils Kitchen Picnic Area 19 miles (30.6 km) east of the visitor center. Accessible. Drive through parking lot. Marvel at the historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. See if you can find the reverse fault. Saddlehorn Visitor Center Located four miles from the west entrance, the Saddlehorn Visitor Center offers a store, exhibits, great views, short strolls, restrooms, seasonal ranger-led programs, and two 12-minute films: “The Spirit of Colorado National Monument” and “The Geologic Evolution of Colorado National Monument.” Driver: Please drop visitors off at the accessible ramp in front of the visitor center, exit the parking lot, and drive back around to the designated parking area. Saddlehorn Picnic Area Saddlehorn Picnic Area, adjacent to the Saddlehorn Campground, can easily accommodate your motor coach. Consider stopping at Book Cliffs View along the way for Grand Valley vistas and monolith panoramas. The campground road is one way. To reach the overlook, turn left into the campground area and continue straight (past campground loops A, B, C). The overlook is on the left. Accessible Amenities • • • • • Restrooms at the Saddlehorn Visitor Center and Devils Kitchen Picnic Area. Picnic areas at Saddlehorn Visitor Center and Devils Kitchen. Overlooks at Independence Monument View and Cold Shivers Point. Seasonal ranger-led talks on the porch of the Saddlehorn Visitor Center. Both visitor center videos are open-captioned. An induction loop is provided for the benefit of users of hearing aids, and assisted listening devices are available at the front desk. Motor Coach Regulations • Drivers are prohibited from idling their engines at overlooks and parking areas, including the visitor center parking lot. Any spills must be reported to a ranger. Comply with posted speed limits. Do not cross the double yellow line. Use lights in tunnels. Do not pass in tunnels. Allow 3 feet between the motor coach and bicyclists. Do not wash motor coach on park land. General Park Regulations • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • No littering. Removing natural or cultural features (e.g. wildflowers, rocks) is prohibited. Do not leave established trails. Never feed wildlife, including birds, even if they approach you or appear to beg for handouts. Stay at least 25 yards (23 m) from wildlife. Do not harass or interfere with animal behavior. Never throw objects at animals for the sake of a photograph. Refrain from throwing objects in waterways. Many creatures make their home there. EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA
01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb:01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb 8/24/06 3:42 PM Page 1 Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado RIM ROCK DRIVE GEOLOGY Photo by Sally Bellacqua INTRODUCTION Colorado National Monument was established in 1911 by President Taft to preserve “…extraordinary examples of erosion [that] are of great scientific interest, and it appears that the public interest would be promoted by preserving these natural formations as a National Monument…” This guide describes many of the geological features of the Colorado Plateau that you will see while traveling the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive through Colorado National Monument. The sequence of recommended stops is from west (Fruita entrance) to east (Grand Junction entrance) starting at the Redlands View. If you enter the monument from Grand Junction, simply follow the stops in reverse, beginning with Cold Shivers Point 4-miles from the Grand Junction entrance. REDLANDS VIEW BALANCED ROCK VIEW FRUITA CANYON VIEW VISITOR CENTER As you ascend the hill from the west entrance, you will pass through the Redlands Fault. A fault is a fracture in the earth’s crust along which movement has occurred. The most recent major movement along the Redlands fault resulted in rocks on the uplifted side being elevated over 1,600 feet (488 meters) above the equivalent down-dropped side. If you look to the west, you will see the horizontal layers in the cliffs of Wingate Sandstone fold down to the east to become almost vertical. This fold is called a monocline – a fold with only one bent limb shaped like a lazy “S” in the cross section. The steep cliffs formed by erosion along the base of the fault dominate the skyline. Colorado National Monument, in partnership with the Mesa State College Center for Earthquake Research and Information Center, is monitoring this fault for tectonic activity. A seismograph is located in the Visitor Center. Balanced Rock was once part of the canyon wall in front of you. When wind, water and chemicals act on the Wingate Sandstone walls of the canyons, the results are sometimes remarkable. Balanced Rock, a 600 ton (550 metric ton) boulder, has been left perched on a pedestal while most of the rock that once surrounded it has weathered away. Its sculptured form was determined by zones of weakness - vertical joints (cracks), horizontal bedding planes, and soft layers in the rock. From this viewpoint, you see the beautiful Fruita Canyon below. This canyon was carved by flash floods cutting through the Wingate Sandstone cliffs into the dark gray Precambrian metamorphic rocks at the bottom. Floods roared through Fruita Canyon during the last 10 million years, triggered by thunderstorms that can bring sudden, torrential rains to the surrounding mesas. Flash floods are brief but incredibly erosive and do most of the canyon carving in the monument. The Visitor Center is situated on a prominent sandstone ledge visible throughout the monument – the Kayenta Formation. This sandstone is more resistant to erosion than the rocks above and below, so it forms a ledge. The concave “smile” shaped layers in the Kayenta rocks are ancient stream channels which indicate the climate here at that time was much wetter than today. The Visitor Center offers exhibits, video programs, and books that tell the story of the Colorado Plateau and of erosion and canyon carving that shaped Colorado National Monument. 01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb:01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb 8/24/06 3:42 PM Page 2 INDEPENDENCE MONUMENT VIEW Independence Monument is all that remains of what was once a continuous ridge that connected the mesa you are standing on to the massive rock called “The Island” to the east. Relentless erosion of the massive Wingate Sandstone has left this 450-foot (137 meters) high monolith with its protective sandstone caprock of Kayenta Formation. One of the most popular rock-climbing destinations is this free-standing “monument”. On July 4th, local climbers raise the American flag on top, carrying on a tradition started by John Otto in 1909. MONUMENT CANYON VIEW Monument Canyon was formed by a combination of erosional processes over the last two million years: flash flooding from thunderstorms cut the canyons and undermined the canyon walls; winter freezing and thawing cycles cracked the rocks; rockslides widened the canyons; and wind and rain scoured and smoothed alcoves, holes, towers and spires in the rocks. The same processes continue to erode the canyon today. While we may not witness these erosional forces in action, they remain relentless. COKE OVENS OVERLOOK The Coke Ovens are named because of their similar appearance to conical-shaped coke ovens built by early miners to convert wood and coal into charcoal and coke for industrial uses. Here, a ridge between two canyons has eroded into a series of rounded domes. These huge domes of Wingate Sandstone are the remnants of earlier
01294 Rock Layers.kb:01294 Rock Layers.kb 8/24/06 3:41 PM Page 1 Colorado National Monument National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado ROCK LAYERS OF THE MONUMENT The rocks of Colorado National Monument record a fascinating story of mountain building, enormous amounts of erosion, and changing climates, as the continent of North America gradually moved northward toward its present position. PRECAMBRIAN TRIASSIC JURASSIC The dark-colored rock at the bottom of the canyons is Precambrian in age, dated at 1.7 billion years old. These rocks were originally sedimentary rocks, but were changed into metamorphic rocks and partly melted into igneous rocks when the area that is now Colorado collided with ancient North America and became part of the continent. There is a huge gap in the geologic record at the contact of these rocks with the overlying red sedimentary rocks. The record of about 1.5 billion years of earth’s history is missing! We know from surrounding areas that this region was uplifted into a major mountain range which, after hundreds of millions of years, was finally eroded low enough that sediments could be deposited where the mountains once stood. The lowest and oldest layer of sedimentary rock is the Chinle Formation. Comprised chiefly of red stream and floodplain deposits, the Chinle Formation records a time when this area was close to the equator. As the continent slowly drifted northward, the climate changed and desert conditions prevailed. The towering cliffs of the winddeposited (eolian) Wingate Sandstone preserve the remnants of sand dunes formed in that desert. After Entrada time, a succession of lake and stream deposits formed, beginning with the Wanakah Formation and followed by the Morrison Formation. After the Wingate was deposited, rainfall became more abundant and shallow streams flowed across the area, depositing the Kayenta Formation. The irregular, wavy contact between the Kayenta and the overlying Entrada Sandstone represents another gap in the geologic record and is all that we have to tell us of a time when thousands of feet of wind-blown sand and other sediments were being deposited west of here, in Utah. CREATACEOUS Here at Colorado National Monument, the lower part of the Morrison, called the Tidwell Member, was formed as a delta built out into a shallow lake. As the delta extended further and further into the lake, the main stream channels, represented by the Salt Wash Member, were able to extend across the area. Stream and floodplain deposits and layers of volcanic ash that spewed out of volcanoes west of here comprise the uppermost part of the Morrison, the Brushy Basin Member. The Entrada Sandstone was also deposited by the wind but the climate was not as arid as before. It preserves sand dunes that migrated inland from the shores of an inland sea located in central Utah at that time. Dinosaurs were abundant in the area while the Morrison sediments were being deposited and their bones have been found at several locations just outside of the monument. Undoubtedly they were present here as well. The youngest rock unit that occurs in the monument, the Burro Canyon Formation, is found only on Black Ridge. It too consists of stream and floodplain deposits and can be identified by the green shale that occurs within it. Petrified wood and dinosaur bones are found in this group of rocks also. Muds eroding from mountains to the west accumulated on the sea floor, forming the massive deposit that we call the Mancos Shale. The Mancos Shale is over 4,000 feet (1219 m) thick in this area. It extends across the Grand Valley from the Colorado River to the Book Cliffs. Our story would be incomplete if we failed to mention the next two rock layers. They do not now occur within the monument, although they certainly did in the past. Those thousands of feet of Mancos Shale, plus even more rocks that are on top of the Mancos, once covered the area of Colorado National Monument—but another episode of mountain building elevated this area once again and started a new cycle of erosion. The relentless forces of erosion have stripped off those thousands of feet of sediment and have carved our magnificent canyons, exposing for us this wonderful story of earth’s history. The Dakota Formation occurs on the very top of Black Ridge and along the south bank of the Colorado River. It preserves sediments deposited on a coastal plain, in lagoons, and on beaches as a great inland sea, extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, invaded the interior of North America. 01294 Rock Layers.kb:01294 Rock Layers.kb 8/24/06 3:41 PM Page 2 EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA
01294 Colo Plateau.kb:01294 Colo Plateau.kb 8/24/06 3:43 PM Page 1 Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado WHAT IS THE COLORADO PLATEAU? Utah Colorado Arizona New Mexico OVERVIEW The Colorado Plateau is a vast land of relatively horizontal rock layers situated between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin of Nevada. Encompassing 150,000 square miles (492,000 km), an area the size of Montana, the Plateau is centered around the four corners of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado and includes Colorado National Monument. The Colorado Plateau consists of mesas, pinnacles, and arid tablelands. This land is deeply etched and dissected by the incredible canyons of the Colorado River and its tributaries. 01294 Colo Plateau.kb:01294 Colo Plateau.kb PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY ENVIRONMENT 8/24/06 3:43 PM Page 2 This diverse land is a semi-arid desert that generally lies above 5,000 feet (1524 m), punctuated by volcanic peaks and igneouscored mountains that rise as high as 12,000 feet (3657 m). The spectacular Colorado Plateau is mostly public lands, including 27 units of the National Park Service. To many, the Colorado Plateau is a bleak and threatening region. It is very hot in summer, very cold in winter, and it seems as though water is nowhere. However, when one ventures onto roads and trails that go “nowhere”, the excitement begins. unbelievable shapes and colors! Red rock badlands are everywhere. Pinnacles, buttes, and mesas of spectacular proportions dominate the landscape. An amazing assortment of canyons, large and small, abound. Beauty reigns with GEOLOGY The Colorado Plateau is a geologic entity that constitutes a large part of the drainage basin of the Colorado River and its many tributaries. Its boundaries are defined by broad transition zones betweeen the high desert Plateau and bordering lowlands and mountain ranges. Major fractures or faults in the Earth’s crust have uplifted the Plateau thousands of feet over the last 10 million years. Uplift has allowed rivers like the Colorado, the Green, HUMAN HISTORY Today, the Colorado Plateau is one of the most sparsely populated regions of the United States. In many areas, there were greater populations during the time of ancient Indian civilizations than there are today. Amazing cliff dwellings like those of Mesa Verde National Park remain as monuments to the ancient inhabitants of the region. EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA In spite of a climate that can be quite harsh, the Colorado Plateau has a rich and diverse population of flora and fauna, including mammals, reptiles, birds and abundant plant-life. Colorful flowers can make spring an especially wonderful time to visit the plateau country. As an ancient Navajo ritual concludes: “Beauty all around us. With it I wander.” and the San Juan to rapidly carve through the relatively soft rocks, revealing the spectacular red rock canyons we see today. Fracture zones were initiated in the 1.8 billion year-old basement rocks, sometimes seen deep in the canyons. They have been reactivated repeatedly throughout time. Fractures and faults control the location and orientation of major geological features of the Colorado Plateau, its canyons, river valleys and mesas. Visiting the Colorado Plateau is an enriching experience. Local American Indians consider the land sacred and believe it is the center of the universe. Preserving this land’s beauty, both natural and cultural, is the proud responsibility not only of our public lands managers, but of each and every one of us.

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