Canyon Rim and Window Rock Trails
Day 3: August 3, 2015
After lunch, we all hiked the Canyon Rim Trail, and the Window Rock Trail – a 1.5 mile round trip hike when you combine the two trails. We hiked along the mesa, with stunning views out over Wedding Canyon, with views of Monument Canyon in the distance as well. We saw more rock formations carved by erosion of the Kayenta Sandstone, watched several swifts race in the blue sky (say that 5 times fast!), and marveled at the gorgeous desert landscape. There is practically no elevation gain on this hike and no scrambling on slick rock, so it is a great hike for everyone (provided the kids are old enough to stay away from the edge).
Piddles Photobombing Jon on the Canyon Rim Hike
The hike ended at Window Rock, a viewpoint with an arch – it took us awhile to find Window Rock because you have to peek over the railing of the viewpoint and look down…
The artistic shot of Window Rock
Wedding Canyon, with the Book Cliffs off in the Distance.
After our second hike, I talked to a ranger and found out where we might see Desert Bighorn Sheep (near the Fruita, CO entrance to the park) and we headed that way with our eyes peeled. We drove very slowly along the road, peering up at the rocks around us. Sadly, we didn’t see any, but we did find “Balanced Rock,” which of course reminded us of Arches National Park and its more famous Balanced Rock.
Balanced Rock – The Colorado National Monument Version
After Colorado National Monument, Jon and his Dad wanted to find someplace with access to the Colorado River. We found Colorado River State Park – it had no entrance fee that day, due to it being Colorado Day. I had no idea what Colorado Day is. We don’t have a Washington Day at home – what’s up with that? Upon looking it up, I discovered that Colorado Day celebrates Colorado’s entrance into statehood on August 1, 1876. We were there on August 3 though, so it is still a mystery to me… At any rate, the park gave us access to a boat launch where we could sit by the Colorado River (so we could say we did). It moved pretty swiftly though, so no swimming for us!
Relaxing by the Mighty Colorado River
We got a quick snack to tide us over for the drive ahead of us – just about 90 minutes to Montrose, Colorado, to be poised for the next day’s touristing. On the drive, we passed by a long string of train engines all hooked together – there must have been at least thirty of them! I wonder if they stash them there for the tough trips over the Rocky Mountains. I saw lots of Prairie Dogs or Wyoming Ground Squirrels, but they don’t really photograph well from a car traveling 60 mph!
A line of Union Pacific train engines.
And we had an early dinner at Himalayan Pun Hill Kitchen, a restaurant with Indian and Himalayan food – a seemingly odd restaurant to run into in small town Colorado. I had never had Himalayan food though, and we were all excited to check it out. The place was quiet – there was just one other table seated when we got there (but we were pretty early), and Jon and his Dad were making fun of how my choice would turn out.
We each tried something different: I had the Chicken Sekuwa, Jon had the Chicken Saag, Linda had the Malai Kufta, and Robby had the Beef Sekuwa. My Chicken Sekuwa was described as marinated overnight in a yogurt sauce and then flash cooked in a Tandoori Oven. We split an order of the Garlic Naan, which was lighter and crispier than naan I have had in Indian restaurants. Our meals were fabulous! They had lots of vegetarian dishes for Jon’s mom, and we all loved what we had – those of us meat eaters were able to try all of the dishes too!
My Chicken Sekuwa, at the Himalayan Pun Hill Kitchen, in Montrose, Colorado
After dinner and checking into our hotel, we stopped in at a local liquor store to get some local beer and wine. I bought a bottle of the 2012 Plum Creek Riesling from Palisade, Colorado. Plum Creek Winery sources all of its grapes from Colorado, and has wines made from some grapes I haven’t seen before, Marquette and Freedonia, as well as some fruit wines. The Riesling had a nice, balanced sweetness with floral notes and peach flavor; a good everyday drinking wine – maybe one day we’ll be able to check out their tasting room.
It was a great way to cap off a wonderful day.
Total driving distance on Day 3: 94 miles – Grand Junction – Colorado National Monument – Montrose
Hotel for the night: Super 8, Montrose – clean, but a little dated.