by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved

Colorado

National Monument - Colorado

Colorado National Monument (locally referred to as The Monument) is near the city of Grand Junction, Colorado. Sheer-walled canyons cut deep into sandstone and granite–gneiss–schist rock formations. This is an area of desert land high on the Colorado Plateau, with pinion and juniper forests on the plateau. The park hosts a wide range of wildlife, including red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, ravens, jays, desert bighorn sheep, and coyotes. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, road bicycling, and scenic drives; a visitor center on the west side contains a natural history museum and gift shop. There are scenic views from trails, Rim Rock Drive, which winds along the plateau, and the campground. Nearby are the Book Cliffs and the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, the Grand Mesa. The monument's feature attraction is Monument Canyon, which runs the width of the park and includes rock formations such as Independence Monument, the Kissing Couple, and Coke Ovens.

location

maps

Official Visitor Map of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado - Visitor Map

Official Visitor Map of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

1:100.000 Scale Topographic BLM Colorado Surface Management Status Map of Delta. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).BLM Colorado Surface Management - Delta - 2011

1:100.000 Scale Topographic BLM Colorado Surface Management Status Map of Delta. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Map of 21 Road to 27 1/4 Road of the North Desert Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA) north of Fruita in the Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).North Desert - 21 Road to 27 1/4 Road

Map of 21 Road to 27 1/4 Road of the North Desert Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA) north of Fruita in the Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Overview Map of North Desert Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA) north of Fruita in the Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).North Desert - Overview Map

Overview Map of North Desert Extensive Recreation Management Area (ERMA) north of Fruita in the Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

1:100.000 Scale Topographic BLM Colorado Surface Management Status Map of Grand Junction. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).BLM Colorado Surface Management - Grand Junction - 2016

1:100.000 Scale Topographic BLM Colorado Surface Management Status Map of Grand Junction. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Travel Management Map 10: Grand Junction of the BLM Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Grand Junction Travel Management - Map 10 - Grand Junction

Travel Management Map 10: Grand Junction of the BLM Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Travel Management Map 13: Unaweep of the BLM Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).Grand Junction Travel Management - Map 13 - Unaweep

Travel Management Map 13: Unaweep of the BLM Grand Junction Field Office (FO) area in Colorado. Published by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

brochures

Official Visitor Map of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado National Monument - Visitor Map

Official Visitor Map of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Brochure about the Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails at Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado National Monument - Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails

Brochure about the Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails at Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Suggested Hikes in the Monument at Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado National Monument - Hiking

Suggested Hikes in the Monument at Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Brochure of Horse Accessible Trails of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado National Monument - Horse Accessible Trails

Brochure of Horse Accessible Trails of Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Motor Coach Guide for Rim Rock Drive at the Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado National Monument - Motor Coach Guide for Rim Rock Drive

Motor Coach Guide for Rim Rock Drive at the Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Brochure of the Rim Rock Drive Geology for Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado National Monument - Geology

Brochure of the Rim Rock Drive Geology for Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Brochure about the Rock Layers of the Monument for Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Colorado National Monument - Rock Layers

Brochure about the Rock Layers of the Monument for Colorado National Monument (NM) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

https://www.nps.gov/colm/index.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_National_Monument Colorado National Monument (locally referred to as The Monument) is near the city of Grand Junction, Colorado. Sheer-walled canyons cut deep into sandstone and granite–gneiss–schist rock formations. This is an area of desert land high on the Colorado Plateau, with pinion and juniper forests on the plateau. The park hosts a wide range of wildlife, including red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, ravens, jays, desert bighorn sheep, and coyotes. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, road bicycling, and scenic drives; a visitor center on the west side contains a natural history museum and gift shop. There are scenic views from trails, Rim Rock Drive, which winds along the plateau, and the campground. Nearby are the Book Cliffs and the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, the Grand Mesa. The monument's feature attraction is Monument Canyon, which runs the width of the park and includes rock formations such as Independence Monument, the Kissing Couple, and Coke Ovens. Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles. Driving Westbound on Highway I-70 towards Grand Junction, Exit 31 (Horizon Drive). Follow signs through Grand Junction to the east entrance. The visitor center and campground are 19 miles from the east entrance. Eastbound on Highway I-70 take Exit 19 (Fruita). Turn south on Highway 340 to the west entrance, which is approximately three miles from Fruita. The visitor center and campground are four miles up from the west entrance. Saddlehorn Visitor Center For first hand information, maps, and brochures, the visitor center is a good place to start your adventure. It is located four miles from the Fruita Entrance and near Saddlehorn Campground. It is open every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day. The visitor center includes educational exhibits, an information desk staffed with knowledgeable rangers and volunteers, an eighteen minute long movie, and a bookstore operated by Colorado National Monument Association. Westbound on Highway I-70 towards Grand Junction, Exit 31 (Horizon Drive). Follow signs through Grand Junction to the east entrance. The visitor center and campground are 19 miles from the east entrance. Eastbound on Highway I-70 take Exit 19 (Fruita). Turn south on Highway 340 to the west entrance, which is approximately three miles from Fruita. The visitor center and campground are four miles up from the west entrance. Saddlehorn Campground Saddlehorn Campground is 4 miles from the west (Fruita) entrance. It is located in an area of pinyon pine and Utah juniper trees and is within walking distance to the visitor center. Make reservations for all sites, including same day reservations, on recreation.gov. Sites cost $22 a night plus entry fee to Monument. One loop is open year-round. There are flush toilets, but no hookups or dump station. Each site has a picnic table and charcoal grill, no wood fires allowed. RV length limit is 40 feet. Saddlehorn Campground Fee 22.00 There are two fees in order to camp at Saddlehorn. The entrance fee for the monument is $25 - good for 7 days. Camping fees are $22 per night. Maximum of 14 nights. Senior passes and Access passes have a camping fee of $11 per night. Loops A and B - Seven (7) person per site limit, three (3) tents per site, and two (2) vehicles per site. Loop C - Seven (7) person per site limit, three (3) tents per site, 1 vehicle, no trailers or large RVs. Winter Camping at Saddlehorn Campground Two people wearing jackets and hats near tent with snow behind tent Winter Camping at Saddlehorn Campground Campsite at Saddlehorn Campground Picnic table nestled among the trees with a view of canyon beyond. A quiet campsite at Saddlehorn Campground. Campground Reservation Map A map showing campsites that are color coded based on when they can be reserved. Saddlehorn Campground Reservation Guide Camping at Colorado National Monument View through the trees of green tent pitched in campground. Tent camping at Saddlehorn Campground Independence Monument View of Independence Monument with Grand Valley in background. Taken from Rim Rock Rock Drive. View of Independence Monument with Grand Valley in background. Taken from Rim Rock Rock Drive. Monument Canyon Monument Canyon with red rock walls and a valley with rolling landscape covered with pinyon trees Monument Canyon Colorado National Monument Visitor Center Visitor Center with American Flag Colorado National Monument Visitor Center Rim Rock Drive Looking down from canyon rim at a portion of the historic Rim Rock Drive Rim Rock Drive was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Balanced Rock Rock spire with large boulder balancing on top. Balanced Rock NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Colorado National Monument, Colorado Colorado National Monument is located on the northeastern edge of the Uncompahgre uplift, an area which has at least two periods of mountain-building or uplift. The monument’s historic Rim Rock Drive provides outstanding views of the red rock canyons below and overlooking the neighboring Grand Valley. The monument contains Precambrian basement rocks which are overlain by Triassic and Jurassic sedimentary rocks. rock bluff with slope below 2010 Freeman Tilden Award Recipients Seven rangers were awarded with a national or regional 2010 Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation. Learn more about their exciting and innovative projects. Portrait of John Kirkpatrick Landbird Monitoring in Northern Colorado Plateau Network Parks, 2018 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2018. Small, bright-orange bird with yellowish underfeathers. About The Southern Paiute “Paa” ute means water ute, and explains the Southern Paiute preference for living near water sources. The Spanish explorer Escalante kept detailed journals of his travels in the Southwest and made notes concerning Southern Paiute horticulture, writing in 1776, that there were “well dug irrigation ditches” being used to water small fields of corn, pumpkins, squash, and sunflowers. Southern Paiute boy by wickiup shelter. What We’re Learning and Why it Matters: Long-Term Monitoring on the Northern Colorado Plateau Knowing which key natural resources are found in the national parks, and whether they're stable or changing, helps decisionmakers make sound choices. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network is building that knowledge. After more than ten years of monitoring, we've learned a lot about park ecosystems, how they're changing, and what they may look like in the days to come. Find out what we’ve learned and how it’s being used to help managers plan for the future. Man stands in a stream, looking down at a handheld gauge. Landbird Population Trends in the Northern Colorado Plateau Network, 2019 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2019. Bald eagle Invasive Exotic Plant Monitoring at Colorado National Monument, 2017 Invasive exotic plants are one of the most significant threats to natural resources in the national parks today. To provide early warning of weed invasions, the Northern Colorado Plateau Network monitors target plants in park areas where they are likely to first establish: along roads, trails, and waterways. Find out what we learned at Colorado National Monument in 2017. Topo map with many colored dots representing location and size of invasive exotic plant patches Series: Geologic Time Periods in the Mesozoic Era The Mesozoic Era (251.9 to 66 million years ago) was the "Age of Reptiles." During the Mesozoic, Pangaea began separating into the modern continents, and the modern Rocky Mountains rose. Dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs ruled the land and air. As climate changed and rapid plate tectonics resulted in shallow ocean basins, sea levels rose world-wide and seas expanded across the center of North America. fossil dinosaur skull in rock face Connecting Fire History and Fire Management at Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument supports a persistent pinyon-juniper (PJ) woodland that has not been disturbed by large, stand-replacing fires since modern fire recordkeeping began. Due to their long fire-free intervals, these persistent woodlands offer a rare look at how long-term influences, such as climatic variability or disturbances other than fire, can influence woodland structure and development. Topo map showing green dots and brown gradient representing areas of different tree age. Triassic Period—251.9 to 201.3 MYA The brightly colored Triassic rocks of Petrified Forest National Park yield not only the petrified trees but many other plant and animal fossils. fossil footprint on stone Landbird Population Trends in the Northern Colorado Plateau Network, 2020 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2020. Small beige bird with black beak and feet, brown back. Birds and Observing Them Birds are found just about everywhere. Even when you can’t see them, you can often hear them. Bird diversity changes depending on location and season. Birds can be enjoyed in so many different ways: watching their activity, listening to their songs, noting their plumage, or capturing their likeness through art. Use this guide to learn more about birds and birding. A flock of American avocets swim on a lake. Monitoring From Space: Using Satellite Imagery to Measure Landscape Conditions on the Ground Scientists from the Northern Colorado Plateau Network travel thousands of miles each year to collect data on plants, soils, and water across network parks. But it would be impossible to cover every square inch of the Northern Colorado Plateau with boots on the ground. Instead, we simultaneously monitor the parks with boots in space—satellite data that provide information at a much broader scale. Satellite and Earth in space Top 10 Tips for Visiting Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument rangers share their top 10 insider tips to help you #PlanLikeAParkRanger. Three hikers travel on rocky path. Invasive Exotic Plant Monitoring at Colorado National Monument, 2019 Invasive exotic plants are one of the most significant threats to natural resources in the national parks today. To provide early warning of weed invasions, the Northern Colorado Plateau Network monitors target plants in park areas where they are likely to first establish: along roads, trails, and waterways. Find out what we've learned at Colorado National Monument. Topo map with many colored dots representing location and size of invasive exotic plant patches Localized Drought Impacts on Northern Colorado Plateau Landbirds Birds of the desert southwest, a climate-change hotspot, are among the most vulnerable groups in the US. To help park managers plan for those changes, scientists evaluated the influence of water deficit on landbird communities at 11 national parks in Utah and Colorado. The results will help land managers to focus conservation efforts on places where certain species are most vulnerable to projected climate changes. A man wearing a clipboard looks through binoculars at dawn in field of sagebrush Changing Patterns of Water Availability May Change Vegetation Composition in US National Parks Across the US, changes in water availability are altering which plants grow where. These changes are evident at a broad scale. But not all areas experience the same climate in the same way, even within the boundaries of a single national park. A new dataset gives park managers a valuable tool for understanding why vegetation has changed and how it might change in the future under different climate-change scenarios. Green, orange, and dead grey junipers in red soil, mountains in background Judith Córdova Judith Córdova experienced discrimination as a child in her Denver-area neighborhood. As an adult, she continued to fight against it in her job as an equal opportunity employment specialist for the National Park Service (NPS). Eventually she rose through the ranks herself, becoming the first Latina superintendent in 1993. Judith Cordova in an NPS baseball cap looks into the camera. Helping Managers Plan for Climate Change with Remote Sensing at Colorado National Monument Long-term monitoring creates a record of the past—and a window into the future. Linking satellite observations of vegetation condition with climate data over time can help us understand what kinds of future changes may occur. The results can help park managers know what to expect over the next few decades, providing them with time and tools to plan for a range of scenarios. Dark clouds over red rock cliffs. Juniper in foreground. Landbird Population Trends in the Northern Colorado Plateau Network, 2021 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2021. Small dove with black spots on back of wings, long tail, and brownish-gray body. Invasive Exotic Plant Monitoring at Colorado National Monument Invasive exotic plants are one of the most significant threats to natural resources in the national parks today. To provide early warning of weed invasions, the Northern Colorado Plateau Network monitors target plants in park areas where they are likely to first establish: along roads, trails, and waterways. Find out what we've learned at Colorado National Monument. Topo map with colored dots representing location and size of invasive exotic plant patches. Studying the Past and Predicting the Future Using Rat Nests In the western United States, packrat middens are one of the best tools for reconstructing recent environments and climates. These accumulations of plant fragments, small vertebrate remains, rodent droppings, and other fossils can be preserved for more than 50,000 years. Packrat middens have been found in at least 41 National Park Service units. Photo of a wood rat. Series: Park Paleontology News - Vol. 14, No. 2, Fall 2022 All across the park system, scientists, rangers, and interpreters are engaged in the important work of studying, protecting, and sharing our rich fossil heritage. <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/newsletters.htm">Park Paleontology news</a> provides a close up look at the important work of caring for these irreplaceable resources. <ul><li>Contribute to Park Paleontology News by contacting the <a href="https://www.nps.gov/common/utilities/sendmail/sendemail.cfm?o=5D8CD5B898DDBB8387BA1DBBFD02A8AE4FBD489F4FF88B9049&r=/subjects/geoscientistsinparks/photo-galleries.htm">newsletter editor</a></li><li>Learn more about <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/">Fossils & Paleontology</a> </li><li>Celebrate <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/">National Fossil Day</a> with events across the nation</li></ul> Photo of a person sitting while using a laboratory microscope. Making an Impact: Long-Term Monitoring of Natural Resources at Intermountain Region National Parks, 2021 Across the Intermountain Region, Inventory & Monitoring Division ecologists are helping to track the effects of climate change, provide baseline information for resource management, evaluate new technologies, and inspire the next generation of park stewards. This article highlights accomplishments achieved during fiscal year 2021. A man looks through binoculars at sunrise. Landbird Population Trends in the Northern Colorado Plateau Network, 2022 Because birds can be sensitive to habitat change, they are good indicators of ecosystem integrity. The Northern Colorado Plateau Network partners with the University of Delaware to assess breeding-bird species trends in three different habitats: low-elevation riparian, pinyon-juniper, and sage shrubland. Find out which species were increasing and declining at network parks as of 2022. Hairy woodpecker clings to the underside of a tree branch. A Changing Bimodal Climate Zone Means Changing Vegetation in Western National Parks When the climate changes enough, the vegetation communities growing in any given place will also change. Under an expanded bimodal climate zone, some plant communities in western national parks are more likely to change than others. National Park Service ecologists and partners investigated the future conditions that may force some of this change. Having this information can help park managers decide whether to resist, direct, or accept the change. Dark storm clouds and rainbow over mountains and saguaros. Project Profile: Produce Seed for Intermountain Sagebrush Systems The National Park Service will build in-house capacity for four strategically located parks to scale up their collection, production, and storage of genetically appropriate native seeds with a focus on ’workhorse’ species to meet their needs as well as parks in the same ecoregions. two men, one in nps uniform, survey plant seedlings in a nursery. Project Profile: Produce Seed for Intermountain Grasslands The National Park Service and organizations of the Southwest Seed Partnership will implement the National Seed Strategy and associated revegetation and restoration efforts in grassland ecosystems in Intermountain Region parks. The project focuses on native plant development and involves collecting, producing, cleaning, testing, tracking, and storing seeds from native species. a man kneels in a field and puts collected seeds into a 5 gallon bucket Maintaining the Past: The Role of Facilities Staff in Paleontological Resource Management at Colorado National Monument At Colorado National Monument in west-central Colorado, Facilities staff frequently need to deal with rocks that fall from roadcuts onto or next to the roads. These rocks sometimes contain significant fossils such as reptile tracks. Protecting and preserving these fossils has relied on the skills, abilities, and quick thinking of Facilities staff. Photo of a boulder with a fossil dinosaur track on the side. Series: Park Paleontology News - Vol. 15, No. 2, Fall 2023 All across the park system, scientists, rangers, and interpreters are engaged in the important work of studying, protecting, and sharing our rich fossil heritage. <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/newsletters.htm">Park Paleontology news</a> provides a close up look at the important work of caring for these irreplaceable resources. <ul><li>Contribute to Park Paleontology News by contacting the <a href="https://www.nps.gov/common/utilities/sendmail/sendemail.cfm?o=5D8CD5B898DDBB8387BA1DBBFD02A8AE4FBD489F4FF88B9049&r=/subjects/geoscientistsinparks/photo-galleries.htm">newsletter editor</a></li><li>Learn more about <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossils/">Fossils & Paleontology</a> </li><li>Celebrate <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/">National Fossil Day</a> with events across the nation</li></ul> Photo of a boulder with a dinosaur track on one side. Park Managers look to Bipartisan Infrastructure Law projects to break cycle of fire-driven ecosystem losses in the West Park managers look to Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to break the cycle of fire-driven ecosystem losses in the West. The project focus, as part of a larger program that the National Park Service calls its NPSage Initiative, is on collaborative work to build capacity across four priority seed zones of the Intermountain Region: 17 parks in the Colorado Plateau and Rocky Mountains ecoregions of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. rows of tall grasses being grown for restoration I Didn't Know That!: Biological Soil Crusts You’ve heard people say to stay on the trail, but what does it matter in the desert? It’s just dirt... right? Wrong—it's alive! Discover what biological soil crusts are and why they're so important in dry environments. a promo image for "I Didn't Know That! Biological Soil Crusts" with image of a biological soil crust Desert Varnish Ever wondered what those dark lines were on the rock walls of canyon country? These black, brown, and red streaks are called desert varnish. streaks of black desert varnish on a red rock wall Tafoni A bouquet of tiny arches? A miniature cave system? Known as honeycomb weathering or "swiss-cheese rock," tafoni (singular: tafone) are small, rounded, smooth-edged openings in a rock surface, most often found in arid or semi-arid deserts. many small holes in a rock
Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails Otto’s Trail Monument Canyon The Island Independence Monument Praying Hands Pipe Organ Wedding Canyon This hike along Canyon Rim Trail (1/2 mile one-way) leading to Window Rock Trail (1/4 mile one-way) provides an excellent introduction to the natural wonders of Colorado National Monument. Bold, big, and brilliantly colored, the steep-walled canyons and towering masses of naturally sculpted rock found here provide inspiration to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Beginning from the back porch of the Visitor Center, hike along the Canyon Rim Trail to the Bookcliff Overlook and continue on the adjoining Window Rock Trail. Both trails wind along the cliff edge with views of large, towering rock formations. It takes 30-45 minutes to walk both trails and return to the Visitor Center. Use the map on the reverse of this page for guidance. Geology The Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails are situated on the Kayenta Sandstone Formation. This sandstone is more resistant to erosion than the formations above and below it so it forms ledges. The concave “smile” shaped layers seen along the trail are ancient stream channels. At the time these rocks were deposited, the climate was much different than today, rainfall became more abundant and shallow streams flowed across the area. As you look south into Wedding and Monument Canyons, you will see large concentrations of freestanding rock formations called monoliths. These towering rock monoliths have descriptive names such as Flora The dominate lifezone here is the PinyonJuniper Woodland - A plant community found throughout the Colorado Plateau between the elevations of 4,500 and 6,500 feet. The pinyon-juniper woodland consists of dwarfed, deep rooted, evenly spaced pinyon pine and Utah juniper trees separated by open areas with sparse vegetation: a landscape referred to as the pygmy forest. The pinyon pine has short needles grouped in bundles of two and small cones bearing large, edible seeds. Drought usually limits the tree’s growth to heights of thirty feet or less, giving the tree a stunted appearance. the Praying Hands, Pipe Organ, Kissing Couple and Independence Monument (see above photo). Monoliths are the most dramatic rock features of the Colorado National Monument, resulting from differing rates of weathering and erosion in adjacent layers of hard and soft rock. In the distance, on the north side of the valley, the Bookcliffs rise from the floor of the Grand Valley to make the north boundary of the valley all the way to Price, Utah. The arid sands of the Mesa Verde Formation form the protective cap layer that supports the steep, easily weathered soft Mancos Shale slopes from eroding away. Like living sculpture, the gnarled form of Utah juniper is the other common evergreen in Colorado National Monument. The frosty blue berries of the Utah juniper are actually modified cones in which the seeds are encapsulated in a waxy, hard shell. The Utah juniper leaves appear as tiny overlapping scales along the branches, giving the tree a distinctive appearance. Among the trees in the pinyon-juniper woodland are smatterings of cacti, yucca, grasses and semidesert shrubs such as cliffrose, Mormon tea, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush and mountain mahogany. This vegetation provides food and shelter for animals living in the Monument. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Conclusion After establishing of Colorado National Monument in 1916, this area was accessible only by foot or horseback for many years. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was created in 1933 during America’s worst depression and dissolved in 1942. Across the nation from 1933 to 1942, approximately three million young men worked for various CCC projects. In 1933, Company 824 of the CCC and National Park Service employees built Camp NM-2-C near the present site of the Visitor Center (see above photo). Nothing remains of these buildings today, but see if you can determine their location using the picture and the clues it contains. We hope you enjoyed your hike along the Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails. Perhaps you saw lizards, heard the call of a red-tailed hawk or smelled the crispness of sage. While Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trail offers many opportunities for stillness and solitude, they also offer a chance to reflect on the extraordinary examples of erosion seen here in Colorado National Monument. Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails/Saddlehorn Campground EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA The CCC worked in Colorado National Monument alongside Local Experienced Men (LEMs) and National Park Service employees to build the scenic Rim Rock Drive which included rock blasting, trail making, fencing and building structures. Some of the handiwork of Company 824 can still be seen today – along Rim Rock Drive, the Window Rock Trail and the caretaker’s r
Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Fruita, Colorado Suggested Hikes in the Monument To Fruita and 70 (exit 19) Some land outside the park boundary is privately owned. Please respect the owners’ rights and do not trespass. West Entrance Campground Ranger Station Drinking Water Shelter Trailhead Picnic Area Hiking Trail Unmaintained Trail Seasonal Stream NY ON 340 ITA CA Fruita Dugw ay F RU Visitor Center 0. 6 5 Ri m 0.5 Ca n yo n 2.5 Window Rock Weddin g Ca ny on 5 0.2 0. Lower Monument Canyon Saddlehorn ON NY CA 5 ING 0. DD t en um on M Canyon 2.5 North Independence Monument rk Br Pa South Broadway oa dw ds White Rocks A ST w ay N ay an CANY ON c. 0. c.c 75 LD GO O NY dl 3.5 CA R T 3.0 N UME Kissing Couple 1 Mushroom Rock MON Black Ridge Otto’s Trail 1 0.5 mile 0 WE Alcove Nature Trail 0.5 km 0 Re KODELS CANYON 2.0 Tunnels . M C I NNIS C ANYONS N ATIONAL Riggs Hill 0.5 Upper Monument Canyon Coke Ovens 340 South Broadway W ild w oo dD r C ONSERVATION A REA Wildwood 0.5 Cap 1.6 0.5 Upper LibertyCap 0.5 p e r Li be rty Liberty Cap 0.2 2.5 Up South Camp Road M ONUMENT M ESA 5.5 ON E en t D M Y ON YO CAN Devils Kitchen Picnic Area Devils Kitchen Mileage Elevation 1.75 mi +770’ Old Gordon Trail 4.0 mi +1,600’ Echo Canyon 1.5 mi +300’ 1.0 mi 2.0 mi +200’ +600’ No Thoroughfare Canyon First Pool First Waterfall Liberty Cap Trail Wildwood TH to Liberty Cap Upper TH to Liberty Cap Upper TH to Wildwood TH 1.5 mi 5.5 mi 7.0 mi +1,100’ -650’ -1,750’ Ute Canyon TH to Wildwood TH 3.3 mi 6.5 mi +760’ -1,640’ Black Ridge Trail VC to Upp. Liberty Cap TH VC to CCC Trail Junction Upp. Liberty Cap TH to CCC 5.5 mi 3.0 mi 2.5 mi +810’ +810’ +810’ Corkscrew Trail Loop Protect your Park Please help us protect the park’s natural and cultural resources. Leave things as you find them, and be sure to pack out all trash. 8 0. Devils Kitchen First Pool Tra il Serpents Trail 0.2 5 +300’ First Waterfall (Seasonal) 6.5 lad tG Eas e a Ro rk Pa NO To Upper Trailhead Upper No Thoroughfare Canyon Help keep wildlife wild. Do not feed or approach animals. Second Waterfall Road d/ DS THO RO U R FA GH EC AN N YO (Seasonal) o 0.75 mi 0.8 Devils Kitchen on rd Old G +500’ -840’ -1,440’ 1.75 pen ts Tra il 1.5 2.5 mi 3.5 mi 6.0 mi Ser ECHO CANYON Gain/Loss Tunnel 0.5 One-Way Monument Canyon Lower TH to Independence Upper TH to Independence Upper TH to Lower TH C OL Trails at a Glance UM BU S RED CAN Fallen Rock on East Entrance N 0.5 Ute Canyon ad Ro um ck UT Ro e riv West G CA NY To Grand Junction 4. 0 m Ri la de P a rk / 1 6½ Rd . C o r ks cr e w 0 4. The Ribbon (BLM) Grand Junction Pets are not allowed on trails. You may walk your dog (on a leash) on paved surfaces. Bicycles are not allowed on trails. Monument Canyon Lower Monument Canyon Trailhead: From the west entrance, turn right and drive 2.1 miles on Hwy 340. Turn right at the trailhead sign and follow the dirt driveway to a gravel parking area. Trail. The park does not maintain this trail, so it will have some rough portions. Be prepared for route-finding and lose footing. (5 mile loop, +550 feet) Lower Monument Canyon Trail to Independence Monument For a moderate half-day hike, follow the Lower Monument Canyon Trail to the base of Independence Monument. Desert bighorn sheep also enjoy this sunny trail, so have your camera handy. (2.5 miles one-way, +500 feet) Upper Monument Canyon Trailhead: From the Visitor Center turn left (east) and drive for 3.8 miles. The trailhead will be on your left. Monument and Wedding Canyon Loop Try this difficult loop for a more adventurous finish to the Lower Monument Canyon hike. From the base of Independence Monument turn right to find the faint Wedding Canyon Devils Kitchen Devils Kitchen Trailhead: From the east entrance drive 0.2 miles and turn left into the trailhead parking area. Devils Kitchen Trail Although less than a mile from the road, the shady interior of Devils Kitchen rock formation feels like a remote oasis. This moderate trail ascends a large rock slope and is hard to follow, look for cairns (rock piles) and carved steps. (0.75 miles one-way, +300 feet) No Thoroughfare Canyon Keep your eyes peeled for collared lizards as you explore this narrow canyon. For an easy hike, follow the wash for 1 mile to the First Pool and turn around. For a moderate hike, follow the path to the right of the First Pool, then walk up the wash for 0.8 mile to the First Waterfall. A rough route continues past the waterfall for 6.5 miles to the Upper Trailhead. (1-2 miles one-way, +200-500 feet) Corkscrew, Liberty Cap, and Ute Canyon Trails Wildwood Trailhead: From the West Entrance turn right at the stop sign and drive 6.5 miles on Hwy 340. Turn right at the light onto South Broadway/Redlands Pkwy. Drive
North North Horse Pack Animals Monument Horse & Accessible Trailsin ofthe Colorado National Monument To Fruita and 70 (exit 19) CA NY ON Horse & Pack Animals Allowed Hiking trailhead Picnic Area Hiking Trail Campground Shelter Saddlehorn 2.5 M en um on tC anyon 0.5 mile 0 1 2.5 Independence Monument Otto’s Trail 1 Mushroom Rock White Rocks Br Pa South Broadway rk w ay ON NY oa dw ds 3.5 3.0 0.5 Upper Monument Canyon G D OL AR ST CA ay CANYON cc 0. c 75 T MONUMEN Kissing Couple an 0 Alcove Nature Trail Weddin g Ca nyo n 0. 6 m i 0.5 n R yo n yo Can g Can n ddi .5 e W 0 0.5 km 0 P dl FR UI TA Lower Monument Canyon Re 2.0 Fruita Dugw ay Coke Ovens Riggs Hill 340 South Broadway 0.5 Cap 0.5 Upper LibertyCap 1.6 p e r Li be rty 0.5 Up Liberty Cap P South Camp Road W ild w oo dD r 2.5 Wildwood MO N U MEN T M ESA 0.2 5.5 Corkscrew M 0.5 Fallen Rock RE D CA NY ON on East Entrance Devils Kitchen Picnic Area Tunnel Ser Devils Kitchen P 1.75 pen ts Tra il Tra il First Pool 8 0. First Waterfall tG Eas lad e P a Ro ark NO Glade Park (Community) TH O U RO GH FA C RE Y AN ON o rd n Old G o (Seasonal) Road d/DS 1.5 Devils Kitchen ECHO CANYON 0.5 0.8 0.2 5 CO LU M BU S Ute Canyon ad Ro um 4. 0 e riv en t D ON ck NY Ro UT Ri m E CA NY a d e P ar k West Gl /16 ½ Rd . ON To Grand Junction CA Canyo n Kodels 340 Window 0.25 Rock .5 Black Ridge Trailer Parking Tunnels Visitor Center McINNIS CANYONS NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA P Ranger Station West Entrance 6.5 0 4. Second Waterfall (Seasonal) The Ribbon (BLM) To Grand Junction rk / CS Ro ad Upper No Thoroughfare Canyon le Litt Park Road t Lit / CS Ro ad le Pa Trail Options Upper Liberty Cap Trail Trailhead: From the Visitor Center follow Rim Rock Drive for approximately 6.5 miles and turn left into a gravel parking area. Horses are allowed on the first 5.0 miles of the Upper Liberty Cap Trail. Riders must turn around before the steep switchbacks leading to the Liberty Cap rock formation. Black Ridge Trail Trailhead: Start at the Upper Liberty Cap Trailhead on Rim Rock Drive. From the Visitor Center follow Rim Rock Drive for approximately 6.5 miles and turn left into a gravel parking area. Horses are allowed on the first 3.0 miles Black Ridge Trail from the Upper Liberty Cap Trailhead to the Monument boundary with BLM land (approximately 0.5 miles past the junction with the CCC Trail). Monument Canyon Trail Trailhead: From the West Entrance turn right onto Hwy 340 and drive 2.1 miles. Turn right onto a dirt driveway leading to the trailhead parking area. Horses are allowed on the first 5.5 miles of the Monument Canyon Trail from the Lower Trailhead to the base of the steep ascent to Rim Rock Drive (approximately 0.5 miles before the Upper Trailhead). Old Gordon Trail Trailhead: Park at the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area. Located 0.2 miles up Rim Rock Drive from the East Entrance. Horses are allowed on the entire length of the 4 mile long Old Gordon Trail; from the Devils Kitchen Trailhead to its terminus at the Monument Boundary with BLM land. Horse & Pack Animal Regulations • Use of horses on all trails listed above will be permitted when trail conditions are dry. • Animals will not be allowed within the confines of any recognizable or otherwise identified archeological or historic site (excluding historic trails listed above). • Horses and pack animals will not be tied or tethered in a manner which damages vegetation or which allows grazing on vegetation in the monument. • Horse and pack animals will be limited to no more than six in number for any group. Backcountry Travel For More Information Colorado National Monument 1750 Rim Rock Drive Fruita, CO 81521 (970)858-3617 x 360 www.nps.gov/colm Safety • Inappropriate use of horse and pack animals, or use under conditions that pose an unnecessary risk or danger to these animals, is not permitted. • Animal manure deposited at trailheads and parking areas must be immediately removed by the responsible animal owner. • As a courtesy, and for safety, animals will maintain a slow walk when approaching visitors on foot, or other riders. • Horses are prohibited in the Saddlehorn Campground except during transport in a trailer. Trail Regulations • Be prepared. Always carry a topo map, extra clothing, plenty of water, and a flashlight. • Pets are only allowed on paved surfaces. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails. • Desert trails can be hard to follow. If you become lost, stay in one place and call for help. • Vehicles and bicycles must stay on roads. • Protect your skin. Wear a hat and sunscreen. Pay attention to rapidly changing weather. If lightning is in the area, stay in low-lying areas and return to your vehicle if possible. • In case of emergency call 911. • Leave No Trace. Please leave all natural and cultural objects where you find the
Colorado National Monument National Park Service Department of the nterior Fruita, CO 81521 Motor Coach Guide for Rim Rock Drive Welcome to Colorado National Monument! Your guests are about to experience one of the grandest scenic drives in the American West. Rim Rock Drive offers 23 miles of twists and turns above red rock canyons and alongside pinyon-juniper forest. The road — built from 1931 to 1950 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Local Experienced Men (LEMs), and the Works Project Administration (WPA) — is inseparable rom the identity o the monument. The drive provides access to Saddlehorn Visitor Center and Campground, three picnic areas, 19 signed overlooks, and 14 hiking trails. Easy access to overlooks will allow your guests to gaze upon towering shrines and scan canyons or raptors. Look or bighorn sheep along the drive. Allow at least one hour driving time, plus additional time or walking, photography, or stopping at pullouts. Road Grades From the west entrance to the Saddlehorn Visitor Center and rom the east entrance to Cold Shivers Point, the grade is between 6-9 percent (steeper rom the east side). The west entrance is at 4690 eet; the highest point in the park is 6640 eet; and the east entrance is at 4930 eet. Tunnel Dimensions Clearance ranges rom a low o 11’5” at a point two eet rom the curb to a maximum o 16’1” above the center o the road. • • • Fees Lower West Tunnel - 236 eet long Upper West Tunnel - 182 eet long East Tunnel - 530 eet long Tour companies pay $100 or a coach with a seating capacity o 26 or more passengers. The ee is paid at the entrance station by cash, check, or credit card. Overlook Stops (1) Book Clifs View along Saddlehorn Campground road, see Saddlehorn Picnic Area (below) or directions. Pull-in pull-out on one-way road. (2) Independence Monument View 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east o the visitor center along Rim Rock Drive. Accessible. Turning radius allows you to continue east or west. Experience dramatic views o Independence Monument. (3) Cold Shivers Point 15.5 miles (24.9 km) east o the visitor center. Accessible. Pull-in pull-out, continue east. (4) Devils Kitchen Picnic Area 19 miles (30.6 km) east o the visitor center. Accessible. Drive through parking lot. Marvel at the historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. See i you can fnd the reverse ault. Saddlehorn Visitor Center Located our miles rom the west entrance, the Saddlehorn Visitor Center ofers a store, exhibits, great views, short strolls, restrooms, seasonal ranger-led programs, and two 12-minute flms: “The Spirit o Colorado National Monument” and “The Geologic Evolution o Colorado National Monument.” Driver: Please rop visitors of at the accessible ramp in front of the visitor center, exit the parking lot, an rive back aroun to the esignate parking area. Saddlehorn Picnic rea Saddlehorn Picnic Area, adjacent to the Saddlehorn Campground, can easily accommodate your motor coach. Consider stopping at Book Clifs View along the way or Grand Valley vistas and monolith panoramas. The campground road is one way. To reach the overlook, turn le t into the campground area and continue straight (past campground loops A, B, C). The overlook is on the le t. ccessible menities • • • • • Restrooms at the Saddlehorn Visitor Center and Devils Kitchen Picnic Area. Picnic areas at Saddlehorn Visitor Center and Devils Kitchen. Overlooks at Independence Monument View and Cold Shivers Point. Seasonal ranger-led talks on the porch o the Saddlehorn Visitor Center. Both visitor center videos are open-captioned. An induction loop is provided or the beneft o users o hearing aids, and assisted listening devices are available at the ront desk. Motor Coach Regulations • Drivers are prohibited rom idling their engines at overlooks and parking areas, including the visitor center parking lot. Any spills must be reported to a ranger. Comply with posted speed limits. Do not cross the double yellow line. Use lights in tunnels. Do not pass in tunnels. Allow 3 eet between the motor coach and bicyclists. Do not wash motor coach on park land. General Park Regulations • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • No littering. Removing natural or cultural eatures (e.g. wildfowers, rocks) is prohibited. Do not leave established trails. Never eed wildli e, including birds, even i they approach you or appear to beg or handouts. Stay at least 25 yards (23 m) rom wildli e. Do not harass or inter ere with animal behavior. Never throw objects at animals or the sake o a photograph. Re rain rom throwing objects in waterways. Many creatures make their home there. EXPERIE CE YOUR AMERICA
01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb:01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb 8/24/06 3:42 PM Page 1 Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado RIM ROCK DRIVE GEOLOGY Photo by Sally Bellacqua INTRODUCTION Colorado National Monument was established in 1911 by President Taft to preserve “…extraordinary examples of erosion [that] are of great scientific interest, and it appears that the public interest would be promoted by preserving these natural formations as a National Monument…” This guide describes many of the geological features of the Colorado Plateau that you will see while traveling the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive through Colorado National Monument. The sequence of recommended stops is from west (Fruita entrance) to east (Grand Junction entrance) starting at the Redlands View. If you enter the monument from Grand Junction, simply follow the stops in reverse, beginning with Cold Shivers Point 4-miles from the Grand Junction entrance. REDLANDS VIEW BALANCED ROCK VIEW FRUITA CANYON VIEW VISITOR CENTER As you ascend the hill from the west entrance, you will pass through the Redlands Fault. A fault is a fracture in the earth’s crust along which movement has occurred. The most recent major movement along the Redlands fault resulted in rocks on the uplifted side being elevated over 1,600 feet (488 meters) above the equivalent down-dropped side. If you look to the west, you will see the horizontal layers in the cliffs of Wingate Sandstone fold down to the east to become almost vertical. This fold is called a monocline – a fold with only one bent limb shaped like a lazy “S” in the cross section. The steep cliffs formed by erosion along the base of the fault dominate the skyline. Colorado National Monument, in partnership with the Mesa State College Center for Earthquake Research and Information Center, is monitoring this fault for tectonic activity. A seismograph is located in the Visitor Center. Balanced Rock was once part of the canyon wall in front of you. When wind, water and chemicals act on the Wingate Sandstone walls of the canyons, the results are sometimes remarkable. Balanced Rock, a 600 ton (550 metric ton) boulder, has been left perched on a pedestal while most of the rock that once surrounded it has weathered away. Its sculptured form was determined by zones of weakness - vertical joints (cracks), horizontal bedding planes, and soft layers in the rock. From this viewpoint, you see the beautiful Fruita Canyon below. This canyon was carved by flash floods cutting through the Wingate Sandstone cliffs into the dark gray Precambrian metamorphic rocks at the bottom. Floods roared through Fruita Canyon during the last 10 million years, triggered by thunderstorms that can bring sudden, torrential rains to the surrounding mesas. Flash floods are brief but incredibly erosive and do most of the canyon carving in the monument. The Visitor Center is situated on a prominent sandstone ledge visible throughout the monument – the Kayenta Formation. This sandstone is more resistant to erosion than the rocks above and below, so it forms a ledge. The concave “smile” shaped layers in the Kayenta rocks are ancient stream channels which indicate the climate here at that time was much wetter than today. The Visitor Center offers exhibits, video programs, and books that tell the story of the Colorado Plateau and of erosion and canyon carving that shaped Colorado National Monument. 01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb:01294 Rim Rock Dr Geo.kb 8/24/06 3:42 PM Page 2 INDEPENDENCE MONUMENT VIEW Independence Monument is all that remains of what was once a continuous ridge that connected the mesa you are standing on to the massive rock called “The Island” to the east. Relentless erosion of the massive Wingate Sandstone has left this 450-foot (137 meters) high monolith with its protective sandstone caprock of Kayenta Formation. One of the most popular rock-climbing destinations is this free-standing “monument”. On July 4th, local climbers raise the American flag on top, carrying on a tradition started by John Otto in 1909. MONUMENT CANYON VIEW Monument Canyon was formed by a combination of erosional processes over the last two million years: flash flooding from thunderstorms cut the canyons and undermined the canyon walls; winter freezing and thawing cycles cracked the rocks; rockslides widened the canyons; and wind and rain scoured and smoothed alcoves, holes, towers and spires in the rocks. The same processes continue to erode the canyon today. While we may not witness these erosional forces in action, they remain relentless. COKE OVENS OVERLOOK The Coke Ovens are named because of their similar appearance to conical-shaped coke ovens built by early miners to convert wood and coal into charcoal and coke for industrial uses. Here, a ridge between two canyons has eroded into a series of rounded domes. These huge domes of Wingate Sandstone are the remnants of earlier
01294 Rock Layers.kb:01294 Rock Layers.kb 8/24/06 3:41 PM Page 1 Colorado National Monument National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado ROCK LAYERS OF THE MONUMENT The rocks of Colorado National Monument record a fascinating story of mountain building, enormous amounts of erosion, and changing climates, as the continent of North America gradually moved northward toward its present position. PRECAMBRIAN TRIASSIC JURASSIC The dark-colored rock at the bottom of the canyons is Precambrian in age, dated at 1.7 billion years old. These rocks were originally sedimentary rocks, but were changed into metamorphic rocks and partly melted into igneous rocks when the area that is now Colorado collided with ancient North America and became part of the continent. There is a huge gap in the geologic record at the contact of these rocks with the overlying red sedimentary rocks. The record of about 1.5 billion years of earth’s history is missing! We know from surrounding areas that this region was uplifted into a major mountain range which, after hundreds of millions of years, was finally eroded low enough that sediments could be deposited where the mountains once stood. The lowest and oldest layer of sedimentary rock is the Chinle Formation. Comprised chiefly of red stream and floodplain deposits, the Chinle Formation records a time when this area was close to the equator. As the continent slowly drifted northward, the climate changed and desert conditions prevailed. The towering cliffs of the winddeposited (eolian) Wingate Sandstone preserve the remnants of sand dunes formed in that desert. After Entrada time, a succession of lake and stream deposits formed, beginning with the Wanakah Formation and followed by the Morrison Formation. After the Wingate was deposited, rainfall became more abundant and shallow streams flowed across the area, depositing the Kayenta Formation. The irregular, wavy contact between the Kayenta and the overlying Entrada Sandstone represents another gap in the geologic record and is all that we have to tell us of a time when thousands of feet of wind-blown sand and other sediments were being deposited west of here, in Utah. CREATACEOUS Here at Colorado National Monument, the lower part of the Morrison, called the Tidwell Member, was formed as a delta built out into a shallow lake. As the delta extended further and further into the lake, the main stream channels, represented by the Salt Wash Member, were able to extend across the area. Stream and floodplain deposits and layers of volcanic ash that spewed out of volcanoes west of here comprise the uppermost part of the Morrison, the Brushy Basin Member. The Entrada Sandstone was also deposited by the wind but the climate was not as arid as before. It preserves sand dunes that migrated inland from the shores of an inland sea located in central Utah at that time. Dinosaurs were abundant in the area while the Morrison sediments were being deposited and their bones have been found at several locations just outside of the monument. Undoubtedly they were present here as well. The youngest rock unit that occurs in the monument, the Burro Canyon Formation, is found only on Black Ridge. It too consists of stream and floodplain deposits and can be identified by the green shale that occurs within it. Petrified wood and dinosaur bones are found in this group of rocks also. Muds eroding from mountains to the west accumulated on the sea floor, forming the massive deposit that we call the Mancos Shale. The Mancos Shale is over 4,000 feet (1219 m) thick in this area. It extends across the Grand Valley from the Colorado River to the Book Cliffs. Our story would be incomplete if we failed to mention the next two rock layers. They do not now occur within the monument, although they certainly did in the past. Those thousands of feet of Mancos Shale, plus even more rocks that are on top of the Mancos, once covered the area of Colorado National Monument—but another episode of mountain building elevated this area once again and started a new cycle of erosion. The relentless forces of erosion have stripped off those thousands of feet of sediment and have carved our magnificent canyons, exposing for us this wonderful story of earth’s history. The Dakota Formation occurs on the very top of Black Ridge and along the south bank of the Colorado River. It preserves sediments deposited on a coastal plain, in lagoons, and on beaches as a great inland sea, extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, invaded the interior of North America. 01294 Rock Layers.kb:01294 Rock Layers.kb 8/24/06 3:41 PM Page 2 EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA
01294 Colo Plateau.kb:01294 Colo Plateau.kb 8/24/06 3:43 PM Page 1 Colorado National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior National Monument Colorado National Monument Fruita, Colorado WHAT IS THE COLORADO PLATEAU? Utah Colorado Arizona New Mexico OVERVIEW The Colorado Plateau is a vast land of relatively horizontal rock layers situated between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin of Nevada. Encompassing 150,000 square miles (492,000 km), an area the size of Montana, the Plateau is centered around the four corners of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado and includes Colorado National Monument. The Colorado Plateau consists of mesas, pinnacles, and arid tablelands. This land is deeply etched and dissected by the incredible canyons of the Colorado River and its tributaries. 01294 Colo Plateau.kb:01294 Colo Plateau.kb PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY ENVIRONMENT 8/24/06 3:43 PM Page 2 This diverse land is a semi-arid desert that generally lies above 5,000 feet (1524 m), punctuated by volcanic peaks and igneouscored mountains that rise as high as 12,000 feet (3657 m). The spectacular Colorado Plateau is mostly public lands, including 27 units of the National Park Service. To many, the Colorado Plateau is a bleak and threatening region. It is very hot in summer, very cold in winter, and it seems as though water is nowhere. However, when one ventures onto roads and trails that go “nowhere”, the excitement begins. unbelievable shapes and colors! Red rock badlands are everywhere. Pinnacles, buttes, and mesas of spectacular proportions dominate the landscape. An amazing assortment of canyons, large and small, abound. Beauty reigns with GEOLOGY The Colorado Plateau is a geologic entity that constitutes a large part of the drainage basin of the Colorado River and its many tributaries. Its boundaries are defined by broad transition zones betweeen the high desert Plateau and bordering lowlands and mountain ranges. Major fractures or faults in the Earth’s crust have uplifted the Plateau thousands of feet over the last 10 million years. Uplift has allowed rivers like the Colorado, the Green, HUMAN HISTORY Today, the Colorado Plateau is one of the most sparsely populated regions of the United States. In many areas, there were greater populations during the time of ancient Indian civilizations than there are today. Amazing cliff dwellings like those of Mesa Verde National Park remain as monuments to the ancient inhabitants of the region. EXPERIENCE YOUR AMERICA In spite of a climate that can be quite harsh, the Colorado Plateau has a rich and diverse population of flora and fauna, including mammals, reptiles, birds and abundant plant-life. Colorful flowers can make spring an especially wonderful time to visit the plateau country. As an ancient Navajo ritual concludes: “Beauty all around us. With it I wander.” and the San Juan to rapidly carve through the relatively soft rocks, revealing the spectacular red rock canyons we see today. Fracture zones were initiated in the 1.8 billion year-old basement rocks, sometimes seen deep in the canyons. They have been reactivated repeatedly throughout time. Fractures and faults control the location and orientation of major geological features of the Colorado Plateau, its canyons, river valleys and mesas. Visiting the Colorado Plateau is an enriching experience. Local American Indians consider the land sacred and believe it is the center of the universe. Preserving this land’s beauty, both natural and cultural, is the proud responsibility not only of our public lands managers, but of each and every one of us.

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