Colorado National Monument: Above and Below – A Photo Essay

One of these days you are likely to look up and see that Colorado National Monument, along with McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, has become a full-fledged national park. The stunning scenery certainly qualifies. With the acreage included in MCNCA, the size is there as well. The combination of NPS units offers a myriad of front country hiking trails and backcountry adventure.

A fellow named John Otto is who we can thank for the development of this picturesque and historic region of western Colorado near the small town of Fruita. Beginning in 1906 he built trails and started work on what would become the Rim Road. Otto once said, “I came here last year and found these canyons, and they feel like the heart of the world to me. I’m going to stay and build trails and promote this place, because it should be a national park.” Not long after, in 1911, President Taft signed the proclamation that established Colorado National Monument.

When I left North Carolina to join Paula out west, our home base was the little town of Loma, also near CNM. So we spent many days after her work, and on weekends exploring the region. I have been to Colorado National Monument a few times before when my brother lived in Colorado and have written trail reports, including this one of Monument Canyon. This post also includes some pictures from Monument Canyon, with a winter contrast.

On December 19, 2020 Paula and I drove the Rim Road from Devils Kitchen in the east to Balanced Rock at the west entrance. The Rim Road is 17 miles of stunning red rock scenery. Each curve will leave you breathless from the natural beauty that surrounds you. The photo at the top of this post is looking down into Monument Canyon from above. Then, on December 31 we took an afternoon hike up the lower section of Monument Canyon after a fresh snowfall. Simply delightful.

This gallery will give you a small idea of what Colorado National Monument is all about… from above, and from below. Enjoy the photos, and feel free to comment.



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