Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction

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Colorado National Monument, a U.S. National Park, is a great place to introduce the kids to geology and biology. The colorful, sheer-walled canyons and rock sculptures bear witness to the effects of millions of years of erosion as well as times gone by. But be careful where you step! The biological soil, found throughout the park, is a living groundcover. The potholes, naturally occurring basins in sandstone, collect more than rainwater and wind-blown sediment. When wet, they are the breeding grounds for insects and desert amphibians and, when dry, home to organisms able to survive long periods of dehydration. Yet there is more to this 23,000-acre park than a bit of natural history. Watch birds, reptiles and mammals in this semi-arid environment on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau. Enjoy spectacular overlooks on the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive. Hike or horseback ride one or more of the monument’s many trails. Become a Junior Ranger and learn more about the park throughout your stay.

 
Getting there
 
Colorado National Monument is located just west of Grand Junction, Colorado. For the east entrance, take Highway I-70 to Grand Junction. Exit Horizon Drive and follow signs through Grand Junction. For the west entrance, take I-70 to exit 19 - CO 340 (Fruita/US-6/Colorado National Monument). Turn left on Hwy 340 and drive south for 3 miles.
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Getting around
 
Hiking trails at the Colorado National Monument vary in length and difficulty. The ¼ mile (0.4 km) Window Rock trail is ideal for families traveling with small children. This level loop walk offers excellent views of Monument and Wedding canyons. The ¾ mile (1.2 km) one-way trip to Devils Kitchen, a natural grotto surrounded by huge upright boulders, provides a bit more challenge. Not only is this trail longer, the hike out is a gradual ascent uphill. Monument, Ute and No Thoroughfare Canyon trails are great hikes for physically fit families in search of a backcountry adventure. The 23-mile Rim Rock Drive is a favored route by many cyclists but with an elevation gain of more than 2000 feet it requires a certain level of fitness. Off-road mountain biking is not permitted here.
Opening hours
 
The park and campground are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week year round. The visitor center is open 8:00 - 18:00 from Memorial Day (late May) to Labor Day (early September) and 9:00 - 17:00 from Labor Day (early September) to Memorial Day (late May). The visitor center is closed on December 25. Programs from nature talks to ranger-led walks are offered throughout the year.
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National Park Service
Fees
 
A day use fee, valid for 7 consecutive days, is charged per vehicle unless you traveling on foot, bike or motorcycle in which case the fee is per person for individuals 16 years of age and up. An annual pass is also available. Camping fees are charged separately.
Entrance Fees
National Park Service
Camping Fees
National Park Service
Things to keep in mind
 
In summer, the temperature in the canyons often exceeds 110° F (43° C). Wear a hat and sunscreen and carry plenty of water when visiting this U.S. national park. Biting gnats are a problem from May through July. Bring bug spray! Keep a close eye on the kids at overlooks and along the rim. Junior Ranger booklets are available at the Visitor Center.

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