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    Colorado National Monument: Sightseeing tour along Rim Rock Drive

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    Martí Micolau

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    In America there are many parks and natural beauties with remote areas not accessible with a rental car; in those cases we often have to stop, pick up our boots and start walking, or more simply give up; it is actually one of the few flaws of journeys conceived exclusively as "on the road" ... anyway, do not worry: today we will not have this problem!

    Colorado national monument is a protected nature reserve crossed by the Historic Rim Rock Drive, a panoramic road of rare beauty, one of those scenic byways that give you everything, allowing you to enjoy it directly from the window (or stopping at the many viewpoints available along the way). If you want you can also take some walking trails, but rest assured that exploring this park by car will not leave you with the feeling of missing the best!


    • Colorado National Monument: where it is and how to get there
    • Historic Rim Rock Drive: una scenic byway da brividi
      • The best viewpoints: where to stop?
    • Recommended hiking trails
    • Where to find accommodation nearby

    Colorado National Monument: where it is and how to get there

    As you can see from the map below, the Colorado National Monument has 2 separate entrances, both of which give access to the scenic route:

    • West Entrance, near Fruita
    • East Entrance, vicino a Grand Junction

    You can choose to access from one of the two depending on the itinerary of your trip. Keep in mind that the Rim Rock Drive is a winding road that requires careful driving, with lots of curves, tight stretches and an elevation gain of 600 meters (if you suffer from vertigo the park rangers recommend entering from the west side), however the driving is demanding. it will be amply rewarded by wonderful viewpoints.

    Historic Rim Rock Drive: una scenic byway da brividi

    La Rim Rock Drive it is about 23 miles long and was built in 1930 by the Conservation Corps, a public work that resulted in the construction of a road that blends beautifully with the natural setting. Along the way you will find 19 viewpoints and 14 trails.

    The best viewpoints: where to stop?

    Among the 19 overlooks of the park, here are which I recommend not to miss, in order starting from the West Entrance:

    Balanced Rock View: entering from the West entrance is the second viewpoint (after Redlands View) where you will have the opportunity to stop. Park your car, take a very short walk and you will reach a panoramic terrace that spills over the cliff and from which to admire balanced rock, a precariously balanced rock that will remind you of something familiar to those who have already visited Arches National Park.

    Do you want to have a clearer idea of ​​what awaits you? Here is an explanatory video:

    Independence Monument View: after about 6 km, on the left, you will find a parking area, pull over and get ready to enjoy a beautiful view of the monument of independence, a rocky pillar that stands alone over the valley, a decidedly suggestive landscape.

    Grand View Overlook: get ready for the most majestic view of the Colorado National Monument, a reddish valley on which monoliths and rocky plateaus of the most varied forms camp, a panorama that in some ways could be reminiscent of Monument Valley. The overlook is a few minutes away from the previous one.

    Coke Ovens Overlook: just 5 minutes from the Grand View opens up another fascinating view, another valley of red rock framed by imposing rock structures, including the dome-shaped Coke Ovens. Another chance to test your talent as a photographer.

    Artists Point: just 1 km and you will have to park again: another memorable esplanade awaits you, full of spiers and pinnacles of red rock with the most bizarre designs, as if (the name Artists Point is no coincidence) the product of an artist's hand.

    Ute Canyon View: take your car back and drive for about 10 km to reach a new vantage point, from which you can easily admire both sides of the canyon.

    Red Canyon Overlook: a little less than 1km away you will finally find another rest area (on your left). It is one of the most evocative viewpoints of the park, which will allow you to admire the Red Canyon in all its width and depth. Continuing, after 10km, you will exit the park via the east entrance, which you arrive after a winding stretch.

    Recommended hiking trails

    Although the park is widely enjoyable from the panoramic road, nothing prevents you from taking some excursions, in order to enjoy close-up views of canyons and particular rock formations.

    • Otto’s Trail: a very short path, just over 1 km, which will however take you to a very suggestive panoramic glimpse, where you can admire bizarre rock formations such as Independence Monument and Pipe Organs from another perspective. The start of the trail is very close to the Independence Monument View.
    • Canyon Rim Trail: it is a half-mile (one-mile round trip) trail that leads to the edge of the canyon and offers truly beautiful views of the most iconic rock formations of the Colorado National Monument. If desired, the walk can be lengthened thanks to the connection with the Window Rock Trail. The start of the path is near the visitor center.
    • Coke Ovens Trail: a short path of just one mile that leads to the dome-shaped rock formations called Coke Ovens. To do this you will have to take the start of the Monument Canyon Trail (which we talk about below) and then deviate after 200 meters on the right. The difference in height is 50 meters.
    • Monument Canyon Trail: the longest and most demanding of these four trails. The attack is near Coke Ovens Overlook and is six miles long. Along this path you will be able to enjoy close-up views of some striking rock monoliths, including Independence Monument, the largest rock monument in the park, and Kissing Couple, named for its shape similar to two people kissing. .
    Otto’s Trail
    Monument Canyon Trail
    Coke Ovens Trail
    Canyon Rim Trail

    Where to find accommodation nearby

    The Colorado National Monument does not offer overnight accommodation, with the exception of the camping areas, however, as already mentioned, its 2 entrances are very close to the cities of Fruit e Grand junction, the 2 best solutions for accommodation (especially the second, which boasts a greater number of facilities):

    • Fruit: 10 minutes by car from the West entrance: all available accommodations in the city
    • Grand junction: 10 minutes by car from the East entrance: all available accommodations in the city
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