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Desert Solitaire at Colorado National Monument

John Otto arrived in the Grand Junction area in 1906 to help construct a waterline. But when he explored the stunning canyons and rock formations of what would later become Colorado National Monument, he decided to stay.

 

Cyclists on Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument
Photo courtesy of Visit Grand Junction

It “felt like the heart of the world to me,” he said, devoting his efforts to protecting it. His goal was realized in 1911 when the landscape he fell in love with became the Colorado National Monument.

Today, drive or bike along the monument’s 23-mile Rim Rock Drive and see the monument for yourself. The striking road snakes along the upper level of a collection of canyons, passing 19 signed viewpoints and 14 hiking trails.

You’ll get fantastic views of the valley and the monument’s beautiful rock formations. Don’t miss the Saddlehorn Visitor Center, which has two 12-minute movies, Spirit of Colorado National Monument and The Geologic History of Colorado National Monument.

Below the monument, you can horseback ride, go rafting or rent a raft at Rimrock Adventures. Animal lovers will love that you can buy treats on site to feed the resident donkeys.

Panorama of Colorado National Monument in western Colorado
Depositphotos

Panorama of Colorado National Monument in western Colorado

Independence Monument and the Book Cliffs in Colorado National Monument, with the town of Fruita in the background
Shutterstock

Independence Monument and the Book Cliffs in Colorado National Monument, with the town of Fruita in the background

A bighorn sheep in Colorado National Monument.
Photo courtesy of Visit Grand Junction

A bighorn sheep in Colorado National Monument.

Monument Valley in Colorado National Monument.
National Park Service

Monument Valley in Colorado National Monument.

Related story: Grand Junction, Colorado’s Grand Timeline

For more information:

Colorado National Monument, National Park Service
www.nps.gov/colm

Grand Junction Visitor Center
740 Horizon Dr., Grand Junction, CO
(970) 244-1480
visitgrandjunction.com

Junction West RV Park
(970) 245-8531
793 22 Road, Grand Junction, CO 81505
www.junctionwestrvpark.com/rockymtn