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Located 6 miles from Downtown Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument is a hiker’s paradise. The area was designated a national monument in 1911, as part of the National Park Service (NPS), and spans over 20,500 acres of red-rock canyons, desert brush valleys, and spectacular rock formations.
This stunning terrain and scenery combine with perfect fall weather to make this an ideal playground for hikers and adventurers. It’s significantly less crowded than other areas like the Grand Canyon and was even included in National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Underappreciated Parks.
Colorado National Monument is a rare opportunity to experience nature while remaining relatively undisturbed on your adventure. With 14 trails scattered over 40 miles of land, there’s plenty to choose from for any hiking level.
Note: There is a fee for entering the Colorado National Monument: $25 per vehicle, $20 per motorbike, or $15 when entering on foot or on bicycle.
Rim Rock Drive
Start your Colorado National Monument adventure with a scenic cruise along Rim Rock Drive. This 23-mile stretch takes you to the top of the Colorado National Monument and weaves you alongside the canyon rim revealing stunning vistas of the red-rock canyons below. With 19 signed viewpoints and overlooks, it's practically hiking from your car! For a fun experience that kids LOVE, stop off at Upper Ute Canyon View, walk to the left of the "mummy" and yell at the top of your lungs. You will not be disappointed in the response!
No Thoroughfare Canyon
No Thoroughfare Canyon is a hike spanning 5.5 miles and is mostly easy; however, there are a handful of challenging stretches. Hikers can experience waterfalls in the spring, rock formations, and creeks. You may even spot some bighorn sheep along the trail. This hike can get a little hot, so be sure to wear sunscreen and appropriate clothing. The best time of the year to take this trail is in the fall because of the cooler temperatures.
Otto’s Trail is named after John Otto, the miner and pioneer, who originally stumbled upon this canyon in 1906 and advocated for it to be added to the National Park System. The trail is a short hike of less than a mile and only takes about half an hour. It is relatively easy to complete, which makes it suitable for hikers of all ages.
Along the trail, you can enjoy plenty of impressive lookout points and rock formations, and the flat terrain makes this route more about the scenery and pleasant surroundings than a physical challenge.
Devil’s Kitchen Trail
The Devil’s Kitchen Trail stretches for a moderate 1.6 miles. This trail is fairly easy to navigate and climb despite being rocky in places toward the end. There’s an extra trailhead that can only be reached with a little rock climbing; however, the trail is perfectly rewarding without this addition.
The Devil’s Kitchen itself is an intriguing rock formation where tall boulders have converged together to create a small grotto. You can explore this area and enjoy some pleasant shade before heading back.
Coke Ovens Trail
Just under a mile long, the Coke Ovens Trail is an easy short hike leading to an impressive overlook. It’s accessible for all skill levels and offers excellent views of the surrounding country and foliage, especially at the end of the trail.
This trail is exposed to the sun, but there are plenty of shaded areas along the way to rest and recuperate on sunny days.
At a length of 3.5 miles, the historic Serpents Trail built in the early 1900s is a moderately difficult hike that offers striking views of Grand Junction.
This trail offers little shade, so be sure to take the right clothing, a hat, and some sunscreen. This hike involves stretches of elevation change, so even though it isn’t overly challenging, it does offer a decent workout.
Monument Canyon Trail
This 12-mile-long trail takes more time than others but is still relatively easy to tackle and is well worth the views. Monument Canyon Trail is popular for a wide range of activities including hiking, climbing and running, thanks to the incredible scenery and the opportunities to see wildlife on the trail.
Along the way, you’ll pass by several scenic overlooks and landmarks like Independence Monument, Kissing Couple formation, and Coke Ovens formation.
Plan Your Trip to Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument is a playground for hikers, climbers and adventurers. It offers a variety of hiking trails with wonderful views, abundant nature and an impressive selection of notable historic landmarks, rock formations, and overlooks.
The best part is, Colorado National Monument is only a short drive from Grand Junction’s popular amenities like restaurants, dog-friendly lodging, and other outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.
The list of possibilities when it comes to exploring the Colorado National Monument and the surrounding area is almost endless. Discover more ways to enjoy and experience Colorado National Monument.
For more hiking trails in the Colorado National Monument and in the Grand Junction area, visit page 8 of the Official Grand Junction Visitor Guide.