Colorado National Monument
| Colorado National Monument
1750 Rim Rock Drive
Fruita, CO 81521
Website of Colorado National Monument at NPS
Location and Characteristics
Located in extreme western Colorado, just six miles from downtown Grand Junction, is the Colorado National Monument. It consists of more than 20,000 acres of striking canyonlands to be explored, and is operated by the National Park Service.
The area was designated as a national monument in 1911 and has since expanded into a mecca for outdoor adventure enthusiasts.
Two entrances are located outside the cities of Fruita and Grand Junction, Colorado.
This monument features canyons, plateaus and massive towers of naturally sculpted monoliths, including Balance Rock, a 600-ton boulder perched on a rock pedestal.
While Rim Rock Drive provides breathtaking views that show off some of the most spectacular sights in the Monument, there is nothing better than getting up close and personal.
Fourteen trails lead visitors to the most famous sites throughout Colorado National Monument. Exciting outings can be made to the base of Independence Monument, and hikes along the edge of the canyon to look out at the Coke Ovens are popular.
Trails range from short, easy out-and-back hikes to challenging all-day treks. Cyclists also flock to Rim Rock Drive for one of the most exhilarating paved roads in the National Park Service.
|Switchbacks on Rim Rock Drive in the Colorado National Monument|
|Entrance to the Colorado National Monument ... a property of the National Park Service|
The Saddlehorn Visitor Center is a good place to start your adventure. It is located just four miles from the Fruita Entrance, and is right next to the Saddlehorn Campground. The visitor center, exhibits, and restrooms are open every day, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
Ranger programs are offered each year from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Check at the visitor center desk for the day's schedule.
Colorado National Monument is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, weather permitting.
|Inside Visitor Center at the Colorado Monument
|View from Rim Rock Drive in the Colorado National Monument towards Grand Junction and Fruita|
Map of the Colorado National Monument
Shown to the left is a map of the Colorado National Monument, courtesy of the National Park Service.
click the image to view Colorado Monument maps at NPS
What Weather to Expect
With elevations ranging from 4,000 ft to nearly 7,000 feet, Colorado National Monument consists of semi-desert and upland climates. Annual precipitation averages 11.03 inches, fairly evenly spread throughout the year. Spring and early fall are the wettest times of year.
Snowfall averages approximately 31 inches annually. Temperatures are highly variable, with summer highs ranging into the low 100s in the valley floor and sometimes reaching 110+ in the neighboring canyon country. The average summer high temperature is 90º Fahrenheit, and average winter low temperature is 20º Fahrenheit. Winters at the monument are generally mild, with lows occasionally dipping into sub-zero readings.
A safety plan is in place to reduce winter hazardous driving conditions for visitors and snow plow operators. During active snowstorms, Colorado National Monument will temporarily close the upper section of Rim Rock Drive from DS Road to Independence Monument Overlook to all traffic.
Once the storm has subsided, upper Rim Rock Drive will be plowed, sanded, and cleared within 24 hours. During plowing and sanding operations, upper Rim Rock drive will be closed with three traffic gates. The gates are located west of DS Road, at 16 1/2 Road and at Independence Monument Overlook.
For updates on storm or temporary closures call the park hotline at (970) 858-3617 ext 350.
|A blue-sky day over Colorado National Monument ... a great time for hiking and exploration|
|Trailhead of Canyon Rim Trail
Things to Do at the Colorado National Monument
Entering from Fruita or Grand Junction, cruise along Rim Rock Drive for 23 miles through the entire Monument. With 19 scenic overlooks along the road, you can experience the vast views right from your car. Visitors will see wind- and water-sculpted rock formations with shape-inspired names like Window Rock, Pipe Organ, Kissing Couple, Praying Hands and Sentinel Spire.
Use caution around sharp curves on the Drive, and keep an eye out for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The awe-inspiring Colorado National Monument is filled with many opportunities for hikers of all abilities. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.
Stay at the Saddlehorn Campground to wake up to the amazing Monument views and have quick access to hiking and other recreation. This campground located in the Monument is 4 miles from the Fruita entrance (west entrance), making it is easy to explore the rock features and visit Fruita shops and restaurants.
|One stunning view after another on Rim Rock Drive!|
Lodging Near the Colorado National Monument
More Popular Travel Destinations & Vacations in Colorado
Vista along Rim Rock Drive
More Information about the Colorado National Monument
Colorado National Monument Association - a nonprofit organization, exists solely to assist and support Colorado National Monument. Proceeds from its retail operations, memberships, and donations support the monument’s educational, interpretive, and scientific programs.