Colorado National Monument is like a miniature Zion Canyon located just outside Grand Junction Colorado. There are beautiful red rocks, a large canyon with a scenic drive, and several hiking trails. You can even camp in the monument, and there is a small Visitor’s Center with a Junior Ranger Program.
The Monument was created over a hundred years ago back in 1911. When we visited in 2017 we could see the reason this land has been set aside. A winding road takes you up the canyon to the top of the mesa. On the way you pass through several tunnels carved out of the sandstone. Once on top of the mesa, you may see bighorn sheep, mule deer, or even coyotes. The road winds around the mesa and explores many overlooks.
We stopped for a hike called Window Rock. This short one-miler led out along the canyon rim to a very nice overlook. In the canyon are towering sandstone towers that reminded us a bit of Monument Valley or Zion. Window Rock is an arch that is right along the canyon rim. Many of the rock formations have special names, too. Our boys enjoyed spotting lizards along the trail as we hiked.
The Visitor Center is small, but there is an interesting movie and a small museum. We spent about 45 minutes before moving on down the road. Our boys participate in the Junior Ranger program. We printed the booklet out beforehand, and worked on them as we drove to the Visitor Center. A hike is required to complete this program and earn the badge.
There are many places to stop and look into different valleys and canyons, and the view back over Grand Junction is beautiful. We enjoyed the scenic drive almost as much as the hike. We stopped at one overlook called Fallen Rock. There is a section of rock that has fallen down and still sits in the canyon.
Finally, the road drops down off the mesa almost as steeply as it climbed up. Though we only spent a few hours at Colorado National Monument, we can’t wait to go back and spend a full day exploring. We had a really great time.