Colorado 2015: Colorado National Monument Morning


Devil’s Kitchen and Rim Rock Drive

Day 3: August 3, 2015

Wrangling four people into a car every day is like herding cats. But we managed to all get going in the right direction and on our way to Colorado National Monument. Once we got there, we discovered this park is a feast for the eyes in all directions.  It reminded me of a combination of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, both of which are beautiful!

We stopped for our first hike at the first trail head after entering the park – Devil’s Kitchen. It is a 1.5 mile round-trip hike to the “kitchen,” a grotto created by four tall slabs of stone that encloses an area of slick rock on three sides. On our hike to Devil’s Kitchen, we saw two rabbits, several chipmunks, some small birds and several lizards. Jon’s parents hiked with us for part of the hike, and then turned around when we got to the slick rock climb.

Hiking in Colorado National Monument

Hiking in Colorado National Monument

Chipmunk! They were everywhere in Colorado.

Chipmunk! They were everywhere in Colorado.

A slightly scuffed up Peter Cottontail waiting for us to go away...

A slightly scuffed up Peter Cottontail waiting for us to go away…

Lizard! He was pretty big! About 16-20 inches with his tail, I would guess.

Lizard! He was pretty big! About 16-20 inches with his tail, I would guess.

Jon and I got a little off route trying to follow the cairns on the way up, so we actually passed the trail and made our hike a little longer and tougher, but in the end we enjoyed checking out the grotto. I was especially fascinated by the little tree that seemed to be growing straight out of the rock.

 

As usual, Jon hiking ahead...

As usual, Jon hiking ahead…

Devil's Kitchen is on the left side of the photo.

Devil’s Kitchen is on the left side of the photo.

This tree was literally growing out of the rock.

This tree was literally growing out of the rock.

On the way back I came upon a small group of people staring at the ground, so I told Jon to hike ahead to meet back with his parents, and I walked over to see what the staring was about. It was a very National Geographic moment! There was a spotted lizard eating a striped one! Not that I normally get all excited about the gruesome facts of life, but I suppose it has to happen. And if it does, I might as well get pictures. It was pretty cool (in a macabre sort of way, of course) to see.

Lizard vs. lizard

Lizard vs. lizard

After the hike, we drove up Rim Rock Road to the top of the mesa and checked out some of the viewpoints. They offered fantastic views of the canyon below, where you could see riparian areas with cottonwood trees that were fed by seeps and springs. These would have been the areas where Native Americans lived all those years ago. Today you can hike down into the canyon, or start your hike at the trail head before the road winds its way up to the top of the mesa.

Heading up the Rim Rock Drive

Heading up the Rim Rock Drive

The view of the canyon from Rim Rock Drive

The view of the canyon from Rim Rock Drive

I loved the view of the Coke Ovens. They aren’t actual coke ovens, but a rock formation that looks like one. They kind of look like beehives too.

The Coke Ovens in Colorado National Monument

The Coke Ovens in Colorado National Monument

We checked out the Kissing Couple rock formation – sadly no photo because someone (me) forgot to charge the camera battery. We also saw Independence Monument – John Otto and his bride were married here in June 1911 – she stayed only a few weeks before deciding she must have been nuts to sign up to live in a tent in the middle of nowhere. They officially divorced in 1912.

If you remember from my last post, Otto was a big reason why Colorado National Monument came to be. He labored by hand for years, building roads through the monument to increase access – the main road he built is now a hiking trail – Serpent’s Trail.

Next we headed to the Visitor’s Center for stamps and postcards, and they were kind enough to let me charge my camera battery too! We checked out the exhibits, and sat at one of the picnic tables outside to enjoy our lunch.  We had to recharge for our next hike!

 

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4 thoughts on “Colorado 2015: Colorado National Monument Morning

  1. Pingback: Colorado 2015: Highlights and Stats | Wine and History Visited

  2. Pingback: Ciao 2015! | Wine and History Visited

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