Have you ever heard of Colorado National Monument? We’re here to tell you why it needs to be a must-see destination on your itinerary. With its stunning Rim Rock Drive, gorgeous rock formations, and incredible vistas, you won’t regret this easy-to-access national monument.
This article explores everything there is to know about Colorado National Monument, including why it’s such a special destination. We’ll specifically outline the top seven amazing reasons you need to visit. Let’s dive in.
What Is the Colorado National Monument?
Colorado National Monument is near Grand Junction, Colorado, and it features 20,000 acres of stunning scenery, including towering plateaus, red rock landscapes, and deep canyons.
Visited by 435,625 people in 2020, the monument’s popularity has grown immensely. One look at the beautiful vistas, and it’s not hard to see why.
While not official national parks, national monuments like Colorado are managed by and part of the National Park Service.
What Is Special About The Colorado National Monument?
Whether you drive, bike, or hike through Colorado National Monument, you’ll know what it’s like to experience grandeur. You can get an up close and personal history lesson about rock formations as you traverse the hiking trails that lead up to incredible views. Or you can keep your eye out for bighorn sheep and eagles as you drive or bike the Rim Rock Drive.
One thing’s for sure: Colorado National Monument features an extraordinary landscape, and you can explore it any way you choose.
7 Amazing Reasons to Visit Colorado National Monument
Below we discuss the most popular sites to see in Colorado National Monument, which are ultimately the reasons you should visit.
1. Scenic Drive Route
Built between 1931 and 1950, the historic Rim Rock Drive is one of the highlights of Colorado National Monument. As you wind along the 23-mile road, you can view ancient rock layers, impressive valleys, and the best views Colorado offers. You’ll want to plan at least one hour for this drive, and even more time if you want to stop and take pictures (and you will!).
Travel Tip: Thinking about cruising Rim Rock Drive on a motorcycle? Consider investing in a motorcycle camper to extend your trip.
2. Serpents Trail
Serpents Trail was actually one of the earliest routes through the national monument, and it was part of the main road until the 1950s. Winding and steep, this trail has 16 switchbacks that lead to one of the most stunning overlooks in the area.
3. Red Canyon Overlook
If you’re going to stop anywhere for pictures along Rim Rock Drive, it should be at Red Canyon Overlook. This viewpoint looks directly down Red Canyon to Grand Valley in Grand Junction and features amazing views of the surrounding cliffs and valleys. While beautiful in pictures, it’s definitely something you have to experience in person.
4. Fallen Rock Overlook
Fallen Rock Overlook is another popular viewpoint along Rim Rock Drive. Here, you’ll get a fantastic view of the main attraction: Fallen Rock. This is a huge pile of Wingate sandstone that fell from a cliff high above, and you’ll find an educational description of how this happened at the outlook. It’s on the south side of Ute Canyon, so you can gaze upon the stunning views at this location as well.
5. Highland View Overlook
Are you seeking an epic panoramic view of Colorado National Monument? If so, you should make a stop at Highland View Overlook along Rim Rock Drive. This scenic stop is one of the highest viewpoints and provides views of Monument Canyon’s Cliffs, Grand Valley Canyon, and the Colorado River.
Did You Know? Thanks to its diverse landscape, Colorado is one of the best states for overlanding.
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6. UTE Canyon
Ready to see some 300ft vertical cliffs? Ute Canyon features steep drops, beautiful red rock formations, and views you can’t forget. One of the best places to view these sights is at the Ute Canyon Overlook. It’s a great spot if you want to stretch your legs, since you’ll need to walk approximately 0.1 miles to the overlook.
7. Grand View
We saved the best for last: Grand View has perhaps the most impressive views within Colorado National Monument. It’s just a short drive from Highland View Overlook, offering breathtaking panoramas of Grand Valley, Independence Monument, and Monument Canyon.
The Parks Service provides an educational depiction of the monument’s history where you can learn about the rock layers, erosion, and geological formations.
How Much Does It Cost to Get into Colorado National Monument?
Unless you have one of the Federal Lands Passes, you’ll owe a small fee to enter Colorado National Monument. According to the National Parks Service, private non-commercial vehicles cost $25, motorcycles $20, and individuals on foot (or bicycle) $15.
And if you ask us? It’s completely worth it!
ProTip: We highly recommend getting an America The Beautiful National Parks Pass as its the best value for visiting multiple national parks.
How Much Time Should You Spend at the Colorado National Monument?
If you want to walk away feeling like you truly experienced what Colorado National Monument can offer, we recommend planning at least three full days in the area. You can experience all of Rim Rock Drive as well as enjoy the fantastic hiking trails.
That being said, don’t bypass this destination if you don’t have a full three days to visit. One day (or even half a day) is sufficient for the scenic drive and a few photo stops. Whether you go for four hours or three days, you’ll leave having witnessed some of the most remarkable landscapes in the country.
Is the Colorado National Monument Worth Seeing?
When it comes down to it, should you plan to visit Colorado National Monument on your road trip? Absolutely!
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you like to do; you’ll have the experience of a lifetime as you wind along the scenic drive, hike the various trails throughout the monument, or bike the rim’s edge. We just have one recommendation: Take lots of pictures!
Is Rocky Mountain National Park on your itinerary too? Read our Traveler’s Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park Wildlife before you go.
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