Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. 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.
Flora and fauna
|Colorado National Monument|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
- Denver International Airport, (DEN IATA). Commonly referred to as DIA. It is located about 20 miles to the east of downtown Denver. Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all maintain hubs at the airport in Concourses A, B, and C respectively. Most other major domestic carriers also have service here.
- Grand Junction Regional Airport, (GJT IATA), otherwise known as Walker Field, is served by six airlines with nonstop service to Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Some service is seasonal. For private pilots, it is also possible to fly your small plane into the airport and leave it while you tour the area. Most hotels on Horizon Drive offer shuttle service from the airport. Taxi service is also available at the airport.
- Interstate 70 runs east-west just north of town. Grand Junction is about 30 minutes east of the Utah border and 4 hours west of Denver.
- US 50 runs north-south beginning in downtown, running south to Delta and Montrose, then turning east towards Gunnison and Pueblo.
- US 6 runs east-west parallel to Interstate 70.
- US 139 runs north south, rejoining I-70 west of Grand Junction, in Loma. US 139 travels north over Douglas Pass to Rangely.
But once at the rail station, you will still have to rent a car.
- Grand Junction, Clifton and Palisade
- Greyhound Bus Lines, 230 S 5th St, Grand Junction, ☏ . But if you're without a car, you'll still need to hail a cab to your hotel.
For extreme mountain bikers, it's possible to follow the Kokopelli Trail from Moab, Utah, then join up with the trail system of the monument. This is a five or six day, strenuous excursion where you must pack in your own food, shelter and water.
There's another north-south running slick rock trail that fat tire enthusiasts can follow into town:
- Tabeguache Trail, ☏ . Trail crosses public land for 142 miles connecting Montrose and Grand Junction. The Tabeguache Trail begins in Shavano Valley and weaves through the canyons, mesas and highlands of the Uncompahgre Plateau before ending in "No Thoroughfare Canyon," a few miles west of Grand Junction.
Fees and permits
Entrances fees are valid for seven days, allowing unlimited re-entry for the week. Fees as of 2020 are:
- $15 Individual Entrance Fee (Hiker, Bicyclist)
- $20 Motorcycle Entrance Fee
- $25 Private Non-commercial Vehicle Entrance Fee
- $45 Colorado National Monument Annual Pass
There are several passes for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot/bike that provide free entry to Colorado National Monument and all national parks, as well as some national monuments, national wildlife refuges, and national forests:
- The $80 Annual Pass (valid for twelve months from date of issue) can be purchased by anyone. Military personnel can obtain a free pass by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID.
- The $80 Senior Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and age. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities. Seniors can also obtain a $20 annual pass.
- The free Access Pass (valid for the life of the holder) is available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents with permanent disabilities. Applicants must provide documentation of citizenship and permanent disability. This pass also provides a fifty percent discount on some park amenities.
- The free Volunteer Pass is available to individuals who have volunteered 250 or more hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program.
- The free Annual 4th Grade Pass (valid for September-August of the 4th grade school year) allows entry to the bearer and any accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. Registration at the Every Kid Outdoors website is required.
The National Park Service offers free admission to all national parks on five days every year:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day (third Monday in January); next observance is January 18, 2021
- The first day of National Park Week (third Saturday in April); next observance is April 17, 2021
- The National Park Service Birthday (August 25)
- National Public Lands Day (fourth Saturday in September); next observance is September 25, 2021
- Veterans Day (November 11)
- 1 Saddlehorn Visitor Center (the visitor center and campground are four miles from the west entrance). For first-hand information, maps, and brochures, the visitor center is a good place to start your adventure. 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, two twelve minutes movies and a bookstore operated by Colorado National Monument Association.
- Rim Rock Drive
- Horseback Riding
- 1 Saddlehorn Campground (near the Saddlehorn Visitor Center, four miles from the west entrance). 80 sites, 1 group site. 51 sites can be reserved in advance, 29 sites are first-come, first-served. Saddlehorn Campground is located in an area of pinyon pine and Utah juniper trees within walking distance of the visitor center. It is open year-round. Sites have charcoal grills, picnic tables and spaces for tents. Campsites have shared clean toilets and water outlets. Many of the campsites have great views over the valley. Campers need to self-register but there is a camp host on-site. $22 per night (2020 rates).
Backcountry camping is also permitted.
- Colorado's Wine Country - Colorado is home to over 70 wineries and its own indigenous vineyards. Wine lovers can enjoy several scenic day trips from the Monument to many of the small towns that grow their own grapes. These lovely little communities include Montrose, Palisade, Paonia, Delta and Hotchkiss, as well as the city of Grand Junction.
- The Monument can also act as the hub for a series of day trips to Telluride, Aspen and Vail, as well as Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.