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Our Visit We visited Colorado National Monument as part of a camping trip to western Colorado and southeastern Utah in June.
Our Weather Hot and dry, about 90 degrees.
Overall Impression Colorado National Monument truly has a National Park feel to it. It’s landscape is phenomenally beautiful, and its vistas and hikes leave little to be desired. The fact that the monument is just a few miles from Interstate 70 and the bustling town of Grand Junction makes this an easy park to visit, even if you’re just passing through.
Minimum Time Required You’ll need a minimum of 2 hours to visit, as this is how long it will take you to drive the rim of the canyon and hop out to enjoy a few of the vistas. Our favorite overlooks included Grand View, Coke Ovens Overlook, Artist’s Point and Ute Canyon View. Many of the overlooks include very brief hikes to rock platforms along the edge of a cliff. We recommend driving from east to west as the scenery gets more spectacular as you go, and the sun will be at your back most of the day, though west to east might be better for lighting in the late afternoon and evening.
A Longer Visit If you have half a day, hike one or more of the short trails to get even more phenomenal views. We recommend Otto’s Trail and Coke Ovens Trail, each of which is around 1 mile round-trip. No matter where you look, you’ll see amazing rock formations. If you have a second day, try one of the longer hikes. We hiked a portion of Monument Canyon Trail which begins in a neighborhood outside the park before turning up into a red slickrock canyon. After teasing you for the first mile-and-a-half or so, the trail finally rounds a bend to reveal stunning views of the parks most prominent monuments including Kissing Couple and Independence Monument. Seeing these monuments from the base of the canyon offered a nice contrast to the hikes on top of the rim.
Suggestions First, a warning about the cliffs. While most of the overlooks had railings, there were still plenty of places to run off a cliff if you decided to do so. None of the cliffs will surprise you if you’re paying attention, but keep small children near you! This is also a tough place for those who are afraid of heights or don’t like driving windy roads on the edge of a cliff with no guardrail.
This is also Colorado, and the altitude and lack of humidity mean you need to take and drink plenty of fluids no matter what time of year you visit. A word about potties. If we had one complaint about Colorado National Monument, it is the lack of restrooms. The ONLY restrooms in the park are at the Visitors Center and the nearby campground. None of the overlooks have restrooms, so plan accordingly!
Nearby Towns Fruita, Grand Junction (Colorado)
Other Nearby Attractions Robb State Park, Dinosaur Journey Museum (Fruita, CO)
Official NPS Website Colorado NM
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