Hike Sand Dunes at the Liberty Cap Trail

The Colorado National Monument and head to the famous Liberty Cap trail for an unmatched Colorado hiking experience in Grand Junction.

Hit the Colorado National Monument and head to the famous Liberty Cap trail for an unmatched Colorado hiking experience. The 160-million-year-old remnant sand dune is slowly succumbing to the forces of erosion, but still offers a one-of-a-kind hike.

Whether you’re looking for a strenuous climb or an easy stroll, the Liberty Cap Trail has it all. The hike is steep and rugged from the bottom trailhead and easy and gentle from the top trailhead.

The Liberty Cap Trail meanders from a small gravel parking lot on the Redlands in Grand Junction, to a small gravel parking lot a few miles from the Visitors Center on top of the Colorado National Monument along Rimrock Drive. The total distance of the hike, from top to bottom, is seven miles. In between stands the prominent Liberty Cap.

Instead of hiking the entire distance, locals often climb up and down the 1.5-mile stretch from town to the Liberty Cap. This route is wide open for a short distance, enough to stretch out before beginning the ascent through the visually inspiring sandstone formation. The trail is a little steep and slick in spots, so a walking stick may be useful. Good footwear and lots of water is essential for this hike.

If you’re looking for a gentler hike, the upper reach of this trail winds across gently sloping Monument Mesa through pinyon-juniper forest and sagebrush flats for 5.5 miles.

From either trailhead, evening hikes unveil spectacular color washes to the distant Bookcliffs. Early morning hikes bring stunning sunrises over the Grand Mesa.

To reach the top trailhead, take Monument Road four miles to the east entrance of the monument, travel up Rimrock Drive and stay on it for about 12 miles. Come to the Black Ridge Access Road to the left, West. A few hundred yards further and to the right, you’ll see the Liberty Cap Trail parking area. If you’re traveling from the Fruita side, or west entrance to the monument, drive about seven miles past the Visitor Center.

To reach the lower trailhead, take Broadway to the Redlands Parkway and turn left on South Broadway. Stay on that until you come to Wildwood Drive. Turn left then veer to the right past a couple private residences.