Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 20; Colorado National Monument and Rim Rock Drive

After scaling the Book Cliffs via Douglas Pass I followed Colorado State Route 139 to it's south terminus at Interstate 70 near Loma of Mesa County.  I followed I-70 east to Exit 19 to CO 340 in Fruita.  From Fruita I followed CO 340 over the Colorado River to Rim Rock Drive where I entered Colorado National Monument.


This article is the 20th in the 2016 Summer Mountain Trip Series.  I should note that this series last had a published article a year ago in March of 2019.  During that time I found myself busy mostly catching up with articles regarding Californian highways.  That said, recent events (suffice to say the kind nobody wanted) in the world have opened the opportunity to possibly completing this series.  Hopefully if you are stuck at home this series along with the 2016 Fall Mountain Series can offer some respite to what is likely a widespread cabin fever.  Part 19 regarding CO 139 over Douglas Pass and the Book Cliffs can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain Trip Part 19; CO 139 over Douglas Pass and the Book Cliffs

Colorado National Monument is a small National Park unit which encompasses the sandstone cliffs south of the Colorado River near the City of Grand Junction.  The main feature of Colorado National Monument is the large sandstone Monument Canyon.  Monument Canyon has several notable features which can be viewed from the 23 mile Rim Rock Drive.   Colorado National Monument was declared during May of 1911 largely due to lobbying of explorer John Otto.  Colorado National Monument encompasses an area of 20,533 acres.


Rim Rock Drive was surveyed in November of 1931 by National Park Service Engineer Thomas W. Secrest.  The designs for Rim Rock Drive were finalized in 1932 to maximize the scenic value of the highway and was built through mostly manual labor.  Work on Rim Rock Drive was suspended between 1942 through 1948 before being completed by 1950.  Rim Rock Drive is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes three tunnels.  Rim Rock Drive appears on the 1947 Shell Highway Map of Colorado as a functional highway through Colorado National Monument. 


Rim Rock Drive begins at 4,690 feet above sea level at the west National Monument Entrance.  Rim Rock Drive begins to quickly ascent through Fruita Canyon and two tunnels to the Historic Trails View.  From the Historic Trails View the Colorado River and Book Cliffs can be seen looking northward.


The Fruita Canyon View reveals a highly scenic view of Rim Rock Drive.



Rim Rock Drive rises to an elevation of 5,787 feet at the Monument Visitor Center.  Located near the Visitor Center is a short hiking trail to the Window Rock overlook.



The Sentinel Spire can also be seen near Window Rock.



Continuing east on Rim Rock Drive an overlook of Wedding Canyon and Monument Canyon can be found at the end of Otto's Trail.




East of Otto's Trail the Grand View of Monument Canyon can be found off of Rim Rock Drive. 


From the Grand View the route of Rim Rock Drive begins to swing southward and passes by the Coke Ovens Overlook. 


Artist's Point can be south of Coke Ovens Overlook.


Continuing southward on Rim Rock Drive the Highlands Overlook of Monument Canyon can be found. 


Rim Rock Drive begins to swing easterly and passes by the Upper Ute Canyon Overlook. 


The Upper Ute Canyon Overlook is followed by the Ute Canyon View on Rim Rock Drive. 


Continuing east on Rim Rock Drive the Red Canyon Overlook can be found. 


Rim Rock Drive continues east and begins to descend through Devil's Kitchen (which includes the third tunnel).  Rim Rock Drive exits Colorado National Monument and becomes Monument Road.  From Monument Road I continued to CO 340 and onward towards US Route 50 in Grand Junction.  My next destination was to the east on US 50 at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Paper Highways; California State Route 1 through the Lost Coast

For all the accolades and praise that California State Route 1 gets for being a top notch coastal highway one fact tends to get overlooked; the highway was never finished!  In this edition of Paper Highways we look at the failed path of California State Route 1 through the Lost Coast.



Part 1; the history of Legislative Route 56 and California Route 1 through the Lost Coast

The Lost Coast region consists of the undeveloped coastal areas of Humboldt County, Mendocino County, and the King Range.  The Lost Coast region roughly spans from near Rockport in Mendocino County north to Ferndale of Humboldt County.  The Lost Coast region is known for having rugged terrain which rivals what is seen in Big Sur.  The Lost Coast has several small communities such as; Shelter Cove, Whitehorn, and Petrolia.

In 1933 Legislative Route 56 was extended south to LRN 2 (US 101) near Las Cruces and north to Ferndale to LRN 1 (also US 101).  Prior to 1933 the legislative description of LRN 56 had it's nort…

US Route 99 to Visalia?...

Something that I noticed awhile back while doing map research regarding US Route 99 in Fresno was that the highway intended to be originally routed through the City of Visalia.



The early originally planned alignment of US Route 99 in Visalia

To be clear US 99 was never actually routed through Visalia and ended up bypassing the City in favor of a direct route from Goshen southeast to Tulare.  US 99 within San Joaquin Valley was aligned over Legislative Route 4 which in turn was added to the State Highway System as part of the 1909 First State Highway Bond Act.  LRN 4 for a time was aligned through Visalia via; Mineral King Avenue, Main Street, and Mooney Boulevard.  This early alignment of LRN 4 through Visalia can be seen on the 1924 Division of Highways State Map.


The initial draft of the US Route System was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture during November of 1925.  The US Route System with in California was approved by California Highway Commission with no changes recommended…

Where the hell is Hill Valley? (US Route 8 south/US Route 395 east)

Recently I made a visit to Universal Studios near Los Angeles.  While on the back lot tour I came across a piece of infamous movie-borne fictional highway infamy; the location of town square of Hill Valley, California on US Route 8/US Route 395.


The above photo is part of the intro scene to the first Back-to-the-Future movie which was set in 1985. To anyone who follows roadways the signage error of US 8 meeting US 395 in California is an immediately notable error.  For one; US 8 doesn't even exist anywhere near California with present alignment being signed as an east/west highway between Norway, Michigan and Forest Lake, Minnesota.  To make matters worse US 8 is signed as a southbound route and US 395 (a north/south highway) is signed as an eastbound route.  At minimum the cut-out US 8 and US 395 shields somewhat resemble what Caltrans used in the 1980s.

Assuming Hill Valley is located on what would have been US 395 by 1985 what locales would be a viable real world analog?  US 39…