View Canyons and Mesas: Colorado National Monument

Rim Rock Dr., Fruita The wild vastness and beauty of this series of canyons and mesas have been preserved, thanks

Colorado National Monument, Colorado
Overlooks along Rim Rock Drive provide stunning views down into steep-wall canyons and out across the Grand Valley.

Rim Rock Dr., Fruita

The wild vastness and beauty of this series of canyons and mesas have been preserved, thanks to local Grand Valley residents led by John Otto, a turn-of-the-century maverick who campaigned tirelessly for a national park.

Sculpted by flash floods, freezing and thawing, rainwater and wind over millions of years, the magnificent formations of orange, yellow, and red sandstone can be enjoyed not only by campers and backpackers but also by day visitors. The 23-mile Rim Rock Drive that snakes through the park can be covered on a short outing. The historic road offers excellent vantage points for motorists and bicyclists.

Forty-three miles of long and shorter trails proceed across mesas and zigzag up and down the canyon walls. Golden eagles, turkey vultures, and several hawk species are among the birds that swoop overhead. Spring and fall are the best times for hiking. In the summer heat a hat and a supply of water are essential. Overnight backpackers are required to register at the visitors center.

Open year-round. Admission charged.

www.nps.gov/colm

(970) 858-3617

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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