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

Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates

Over the past two decades I've crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as "The Grapevine" it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the "Ridge Route."  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.  The Ridge Route is a 44 mile section of highway which was completed in 1915.  The Ridge Route originally stretched from Castaic Junction north over Liebre Summit and Tejon Pass to the tiny community of Grapevine.  In spite of a roadway that once utilized nearly 700 curves the Ridge Route is generally considered far ahead of it's time and one of the first modern highways constructed for automotive use. 

Closing the Gap - How Interstate 77 in North Carolina and Virginia Came To Be

Interstate 77 through the Virginias and Carolinas was not an original Interstate Highway proposal.  In 1957, Interstate 77 was born as an over 400-mile southwards extension of a previously approved Cleveland to Canton, Ohio Interstate.  The new road would extend through four states before terminating at Interstate 85 near Charlotte, North Carolina.  This extension would bring an additional north-south highway connecting the industrial Midwest to the South.   During the early planning stages of Interstate 77 from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s, North Carolina and Virginia had different plans routing the Interstate that took over five years to settle. While the new Ohio to Charlotte Interstate would follow the WV Turnpike to its terminus at US 460 near Princeton, its route through the remainder of West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina was uncertain.  The route south from Princeton into Virginia and to Interstate 81 near Wytheville consisted of two options.  An eastern option

Former US Route 99 in Modesto and the 7th Street Bridge

Recently I paid a visit to the City of Modesto of Stanislaus County to visit the former alignments of US Route 99.  My interest in Modesto was spurred by the fact that the earliest alignment of US Route 99 in Modesto over the 7th Street Bridge is endangered.   Part 1; the history of US Route 99 in Modesto Modesto was settled as a siding of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1870.  Modesto was originally slated to be named "Ralston" in honor of financier William C. Ralston.  Ralston requested to have another name for the siding to be found.  The name "Modesto" was chosen to recognize the modesty of Ralston.  The construction of the Southern Pacific Railroad in San Joaquin Valley brought a large of amount of commerce as the previous transportation corridors in the Sierra Nevada Foothills were rendered obsolete.  Modesto grew rapidly and replaced Knight's Ferry as the Stanislaus County Seat in 1872.  Modesto can be seen along the Southern Pacific Railroad on the 187