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.
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.
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…
The sun did break free of the clouds for a short time and lit up the sandstone above the trail nicely.
I just love that warm light on the sandstone with the dark clouds beyond!
Fruita Dugway Trail
As I neared Rim Rock Drive the clouds filtered out the strong sunlight again.
Rim Rock Drive
The Historic Trails Overlook was my turnaround point this morning.
Hiking back down through Switchback Canyon.
Of course, I stopped to check on my favorite Juniper tree in this lovely little 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.
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.
In 1938 the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce erected this monument and plaque with assistance from Elmer Riggs.
Dinosaur Hill View
There’s a newly constructed shelter at the top of Dinosaur Hill.
I made sure to stop at the highpoint of Dinosaur Hill.
Once I completed the short loop trail I grabbed some breakfast in Fruita and headed home to finish preparing for our upcoming travels.