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

The Midway Palm and Pine of US Route 99

Along modern day California State Route 99 south of Avenue 11 just outside the City limits of Madera one can find the Midway Palm and Pine in the center median of the freeway.  The Midway Palm and Pine denotes the halfway point between the Mexican Border and Oregon State Line on what was US Route 99.  The Midway Palm is intended to represent Southern California whereas the Midway Pine is intended to represent Northern California.  Pictured above the Midway Palm and Pine can be seen from the northbound lanes of the California State Route 99 Freeway.   The history of the Midway Palm and Pine The true timeframe for when the Midway Palm and Pine (originally a Deadora Cedar Tree) were planted is unknown.  In fact the origin of the Midway Palm and Pine was referenced in California's Gold Episode #608 during which Huell Howser examined numerous points claimed to be the Center of California.  During Episode #608 Huell Howser interviews Caltrans employee Bob Thompson who emphasizes there wa

Erie Canal: Little Falls and Moss Island

  Little Falls, New York is a small city in the Mohawk Valley that has been shaped by the forces of water throughout its history. Nowhere in Little Falls is that more evident than at Moss Island. Representing the Industrial Age, this is home of Lock 17 the tallest lock along the Erie Canal, but there is also evidence of the Ice Age in the form of 40 foot deep glacial potholes from when there was an ancient waterfall that was even larger than Niagara Falls at this spot, once draining Glacial Lake Iroquois when other outlets (such as the St. Lawrence River) were blocked by retreating glaciers. While Little Falls does not have the amount of industry around the river and canal than it once had, checking out what Moss Island has to offer is a great way to see what the city has to offer. Visiting Moss Island allows you to experience the engineering marvel that is the Erie Canal plus the wonders of nature by taking a hike around the island and seeing the glacial potholes. A

California State Route 33 and legacy of US Route 399 on the Maricopa-Ventura Highway

California State Route 33 is a 290 mile (about 323 including multiplexes) State Highway spanning from Ventura at US Route 101 north to Interstate 5 near Tracy.  California State Route 33 offers a scenic alternate from the Pacific Coast over former US Route 399 via the Ventura-Maricopa Highway to San Joaquin Valley.  Within San Joaquin Valley California State Route 33 largely is known as the main street connecting it's western communities.  Depicted above is an overlook of California State Route 33 and the Maricopa-Ventura Highway snaking through Wheeler Gorge.  Pictured below is reverse view of the Maricopa-Ventura Highway shortly after it opened in October 1933.  The Maricopa-Ventura Highway would become part of US Route 399 in 1934 and would be absorbed into California State Route 33 in 1964.   The present alignment of California State Route 33 can be observed below.   Part 1; the history of California State Route 33 The origin of modern California State Rou