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Colorado National Monument Western Loop

Colorado National Monument Traverse III
Sunday, March 20, 2016

After our overnight hike along the Black Ridge Loop in the Colorado National Monument last year Diane had mentioned to me that she enjoyed the hike up the Fruita Dugway and wanted to hike it again, so this year I planned a different loop that included the Fruita Dugway, Black Ridge Trail, CCC Trail and then returned down Monument Canyon. It would make a nice 13.5 mile loop on the western side of the Monument. We dropped my Jeep off at the Lower Monument Canyon Trailhead shortly before sunrise and then drove over to the Fruita Dugway Trailhead and started climbing the trail as the sun was coming up for the day. The Fruita Dugway is probably one of my favorite and often overlooked trails in the Colorado National Monument.

Sunrise on the sandstone cliffs near the Kodels Canyon Trailhead.

Dugway Sunrise

Diane on the Fruita Dugway Trail as we climbed up this historic route into the Monument.

Fruita Dugway Trail

Looking back down the shelf section of the trail.


I have hiked this trail a couple of times and Diane had been here once before, but this time she spotted these elaborate historic inscriptions along the trail that neither of us had noticed before. It’s always nice to discover something new!

Elaborate Historical Inscriptions

I stopped to visit my favorite juniper tree in a shallow alcove above the trail.

Favorite Tree

Lichen on a large boulder that caught my attention.

Lichen Spot

The view over a curve in Rim Rock Drive and the Grand Valley below.

Rim Rock Curve

A twisted juniper hanging to the the edge of the trail as we made our way up to the Black Ridge Trail.

Edge of the Trail

Temporarily leaving the boundary of the Colorado National Monument.


A distant overlook of Devils Canyon from the Black Ridge Trail.

Over Devil's Canyon

Rim Rock Drive and The Island seen from the short CCC Trail. We would eventually make our way down there. You can see a few fires burning down in the valley that contributed to the hazy sky all day.


Diane taking a picture with her phone before descending into Monument Canyon.

Picture Taking

The switchbacks we followed in upper Monument Canyon.


A nice view on our way down.

Upper Monument Canyon

Following the trail towards the Kissing Couple.

Kissing Couple Trail

Then on to Independence Monument.

Trail to Independence

Diane below the tip of The Island shortly before reaching the intersection with the Wedding Canyon Trail.

Below the Island

While it’s hard to see these days, this is an inscription of the Declaration of Independence found on top of a large boulder near the base of Independence Monument that was carved by John Otto (or possibly his wife) about 100 years ago.

Declaration of Independence


Below is a Google Map of the complete loop we hiked in the Colorado National Monument today.



>> Colorado National Monument Western Loop Photo Gallery

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