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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Colorado National Monument

August 16, 2012

Curious about how a scenic mountain drive would be, we unwittingly drove through Independence Pass, which connected Leadville to Aspen. Though the drive was scenic, curving around mountains, ghost towns, forests, and river valleys, it induced a panic attack! However, since I had chosen this route and there was no way we could turn around, we continued towards Aspen while I gritted my teeth and held my breath. We ate a quick breakfast in Aspen and then took Interstate 70 to get to Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction, CO.

Colorado National Monument was basically one 20+ mile road with a series of switchbacks and steep climbs that traced the edges of a canyon/cliffside. While it was a frightening drive that ascended 1500+ ft, there were numerous viewpoints with gorgeous vistas and canyon trails which made it a worthwhile excursion. The whole drive took us about 3 hours to complete and that included many stops and a small hike on the Coke Ovens Trail.

*There were many cyclists on the road so please watch out for them and share the road.

Driving Tour of Colorado National Monument

Entrance. I love seeing these signs.

View from the car of the surrounding area.

Climbing 1500+ feet on the road

Mountain Rd/Rimrock Rd traverses through the whole monument

View from the road

Again, climbing higher and higher

Through the tunnel going north through the monument

Cold Shivers Point, Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument

Red Canyon Overlook, Colorado National Monument

Walking over to view Ute Canyon

Ute Canyon, Colorado National Monument

More of Ute Canyon, Colorado National Monument

Ute Canyon Trail from Fallen Rock Overlook

Ute Canyon Trail

Ute Canyon Trail

Highland View, Colorado National Monument

Artists Point, Colorado National Monument

Artists Point, Colorado National Monument

Artists Point, Colorado National Monument

Artists Point, Colorado National Monument

Coke Ovens Trail, this is looking at a shortcut where CCC workeres blasted through the cliffside to create a shortcut so they could haul things over to make the road through the monument. We didn't access that area.

Hiking on Coke Ovens Trail, Colorado National Monument

Coke Ovens Trail

Coke Ovens Trail

At the end of Coke Ovens Trail. Coke ovens are to my left. The rock formations resemble the domed coke (charcoal product) ovens hence the name of the trail. 

Grand View, Colorado National Monument

M and I at Grand View, Colorado National Monument

We were running out of time so we stopped briefly at the Visitor Center and then drove out of the monument. Here is a view of the many switchbacks we had to drive on. 

Balanced Rock, Colorado National Monument

Fruita, CO, right after we got out of Colorado National Monument. The rest of this trip was hazy and smoke-filled due to fires out west. 

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