Colorado National Monument Colorado
Hiking across ancient rock formations
Step into a world of ancient geological marvels
You’ll find panoramic views and rewarding trails around every corner in this gem of the Western USA. Hop in the car to wind through cliffs, mesas and canyons as you travel down the picturesque motorway of Rim Rock Drive. It takes around an hour to drive the entire stretch. If you’d prefer an open-air excursion, Rim Rock Drive also welcomes travelers riding bikes and motorcycles. Pack a lunch and plan to enjoy a picnic at one of the many scenic overlooks along the way. Be sure to peer carefully down into the canyon to spot the billion-year-old rock layers that lie at the very bottom. Keep an eye out for iconic landmarks, like the Independence Monument, a striking sandstone pillar that rises alone from the canyon floor.
It’s also easy to explore on foot. For a laid-back hike, try the wide, flat pathways of Canyon Rim Trail, a 0.8-kilometer hike that winds from the Saddlehorn Visitor Center to the exhilarating Book Cliffs View. More experienced hikers may want to take on the invigorating Monument Canyon Trail. While this 9.7-kilometer trail is a longer and more challenging hike, the chance to walk cliffside past some of the canyon’s most famous rock formations makes the journey well worth it. Along the way, you may even spot some petroglyphs carved thousands of years ago by the Fremont and Ancestral Pueblo peoples.
If you dream of sleeping under the desert stars, you can pitch your tent or park your camper van at Saddlehorn Campground any night of the year. It’s a prime location for stargazing, viewing inspiring sunsets and admiring native plants like sagebrush and juniper trees that dot the landscape. Tread carefully and quietly and you may catch glimpses of local wildlife – majestic bighorn sheep, colorful collared lizards and lively cottontail rabbits are among the many native species that call the Colorado River Valley their home.
Experience Colorado National Monument