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Fruita Dugway to Historic Trails View & Dinosaur Hill

Colorado National Monument | Saturday, August 12, 2023

Since Diane and I are getting onto the Colorado River tomorrow morning for three days and then leaving to spend the rest of the week in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming right afterwards, I needed to stay close to home today so we could finish preparing and packing for both trips. I still wanted to get out for a short local hike on Saturday morning, so I was up before sunrise and drove over to the edge of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area to spend a couple hours hiking partway up the Fruita Dugway to the Historic Trails Overlook in the Colorado National Monument. I arrived at the Kodels Canyon Trailhead just outside of Fruita about twenty minutes before sunrise and started hiking up the trail toward Kodels Canyon.

Entering McInnis Canyons NCA about 20 minutes before sunrise.

McInnis Canyons at Dawn

Kodels Canyon Trail

Kodels Canyon Trail

Although there were nice clouds in the sky over the Grand Valley this morning, there was also a large cloud bank over the Grand Mesa to the east which blocked the sunrise. This is about as good as the color in the clouds got.

Kodels Canyon Morning

Grand Valley View

Grand Valley View

Once I crossed the boundary into the Colorado National Monument I stopped to take in the view at the Kodels Canyon Overlook. Surprisingly, this is actually my first time back in the Monument in over three years! I guess I kind of took a break after the pandemic…

Kodels Canyon Overlook

The sun did break free of the clouds for a short time and lit up the sandstone above the trail nicely.

Fruita Dugway Morning

I just love that warm light on the sandstone with the dark clouds beyond!

Sandstone & Clouds

Fruita Dugway Trail

Fruita Dugway Trail

As I neared Rim Rock Drive the clouds filtered out the strong sunlight again.

Fruita Dugway View

Rim Rock Drive

Rim Rock Drive

The Historic Trails Overlook was my turnaround point this morning.

Historic Trails Overlook

Hiking back down through Switchback Canyon.

Switchback Canyon

Lichen Design

Lichen Design

Of course, I stopped to check on my favorite Juniper tree in this lovely little alcove.

Juniper Alcove

Before heading back home I thought it might be a good time to cross the highway and hike the short loop at Dinosaur Hill since this is a trail I had not been on before.

Dinosaur Hill Trail

This is the tunnel to the quarry where a 70-foot long Apatosaurus was excavated by Elmer Riggs and his crew in 1901 which is on display at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Dinosaur Hill Quarry Tunnel

In 1938 the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce erected this monument and plaque with assistance from Elmer Riggs.

Dinosaur Hill Plaque

Dinosaur Hill View

Dinosaur Hill View

There’s a newly constructed shelter at the top of Dinosaur Hill.

Dinosaur Hill Shelter

I made sure to stop at the highpoint of Dinosaur Hill.

Dinosaur Hill Highpoint

Once I completed the short loop trail I grabbed some breakfast in Fruita and headed home to finish preparing for our upcoming travels.

Dinosaur Hill

>> Fruita Dugway & Dinosaur Hill Photo Gallery

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