Scenic USA - Colorado

Independence Monument

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Independence Monument - Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado

Photos by Aaron Campbell
Aaron Campbell Photography

     Lying a short distance from Interstate 70, the name Colorado National Monument does Grand View Overlook - Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado little to grab the attention of Colorado travelers. Thinking it may a monument to the state, sightseers may be missing out on one of the grandest parks in western Colorado. Here in a 32 square mile section of the Colorado Plateau, the park's 23 mile Rim Rock Drive climbs through a series of deep canyons, towering sandstone monuments and nearly two billion years of geology. Zigzagging through a rugged landscape of pinon-pine and juniper forest, the two-lane park road overlooks the Grand Valley of Colorado River. Off in the distance, park visitors may recognize the towns of Fruita and Grand Junction lying 2000 feet below.
     Here among the landmarks of Cleopatra's Couch, Otto's Bathtub, Squatting Monkey and the Coke Ovens, Independence Monument Balanced Rock - Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado is perhaps the most impressive rock formation found in Colorado National Monument. Pictured here, the huge slab rises up 450 feet from the floor of Wedding Canyon. Grand View Overlook, one of the most popular stops on Rim Rock Drive, offers this face-on view of the park's largest free standing monolith.
     Thoroughly captivated by the land, John Otto started blazing miles of trails throughout the area during the early 1900s. His tireless efforts, converting the land into today's Colorado National Monument park, were rewarded in a 1911 with a National Parks Service commission. In 1927, Otto was finally recognized and given the job of park caretaker, paying him five dollars a month. Otto's traditional climb to the top and planting the American flag every Fourth of July on Independence Monument made it easy to name this immense landmark.

I came here last year and found these canyons, and they felt like the heart of the world to me.
I'm going to stay and promote this place, because it should be a national park.
~ John Otto


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