Hiking in Colorado National Monument

 

Located less than 15 minutes away from Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument is a hiker’s paradise. The area was designated a national monument in 1911 and today spans over 20,500 acres of red-rock canyons, desert brush valleys, and spectacular rock formations.

This stunning terrain and scenery combine with perfect spring and summer weather to make this an ideal destination for hikers, attracting countless numbers of adventurers every year. However, it’s significantly less crowded than other areas like the Grand Canyon and was even named to National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Underappreciated Parks.

 

Colorado National Monument is a rare opportunity to experience some truly magnificent nature while remaining relatively undisturbed on a hike. With 14 trails scattered over 40 miles of land, there’s plenty to choose from for any level of hiker.

Let’s take a look at some of the best opportunities for hiking in the Colorado National Monument and what you can expect when you get there.

Note: There is a fee for entering the Colorado National Monument. You’ll need to pay $25 per vehicle, $20 per motorbike, or $15 when entering on foot or bicycle.

 

No Thoroughfare Canyon

  

No Thoroughfare Canyon is a hike spanning 5.5 miles and is mostly easy with a handful of challenging stretches. Hikers here can experience waterfalls, rock formations, and creeks, and they may even spot some bighorn sheep. In the summer months, this trail can get a little hot, so be sure to wear sunscreen and appropriate clothing.

 

Otto’s Trail

  

Otto’s Trail is named after John Otto, the miner who originally stumbled upon this canyon in 1906. The trail is a short hike of less than a mile that only takes about half an hour and is relatively easy to complete, making 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 and features a river. 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

  

Lasting for just under a mile, the Coke Ovens Trail is an easy short hike leading to an impressive overlook. It’s accessible to all skill levels and offers excellent views of the surrounding country and wildflowers, especially at the end of the trail.

This trail can get pretty hot and is exposed to the sun in the summer months, but there are some shaded areas along the way to rest and recuperate on sunny days.

 

Serpents Trail

  

At a length of 3.5 miles, the historic Serpents Trail built in the early 1900s is a moderately difficult hike sprinkled with many beautiful wildflowers and striking views of Grand Junction. 

This trail can get particularly busy at certain times of the day and year, and it’s somewhat lacking in shade. Make sure to bring protection in the form of the right clothing, a hat, and some sunscreen. This hike involves stretches of elevation too, so while 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 opportunities to see wildlife here.

Along the way, you’ll pass by several scenic monuments and landmarks like Independence Monument, Kissing Couple, and Coke Ovens.

Plan Your Trip to Colorado National Monument

  

Colorado National Monument is a magnet for hikers, climbers, and adventurers everywhere. It offers many hiking trails for all levels with wonderful views, abundant nature, and an impressive selection of notable historic landmarks, rock formations, and monuments.

What’s more, Colorado National Monument is located just a stone’s throw away from Grand Junction’s amenities of a wide range of restaurants, dog-friendly lodging, and more 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.