Rim Rock Drive and the Coke Ovens (Colorado Nat’l Monument)

May 6, 2020, Grand Junction

I spent a day at Colorado National Monument while moving across the country in May, 2020. There are three basic ways to get from New York to San Francisco, with I-80 being the fastest. But I chose I-70 because crossing through the heart of the Rockies and Southern Utah seemed like a way cooler experience.

No surprise: the continental divide and Utah’s red rock vistas did not disappoint! But Western Colorado was the real sleeper hit of this road trip. Glenwood Canyon was perhaps the coolest part of the entire drive coast-to-coast. Grand Junction was a surprisingly cute town with some great eats. And Colorado National Monument was just plain stunning.

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Devil’s Kitchen (Colorado Nat’l Monument)

carved stone steps take you to Devil's Kitchen at Colorado National Monument.

May 6, 2020, Colorado National Monument

The Devil’s Kitchen trail takes you on a short out-and-back to some super cool rock formations. It lies at the Eastern extreme on Colorado National Monument, near the park entrance. The same car park services the Serpent’s Trail and No Thoroughfare Canyon hikes. I highly recommend the former if it’s not too hot. Devil’s Kitchen proves short and easy and it packs a scenic punch—not to be missed!

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No Thoroughfare Canyon (Colorado Nat’l Monument)

Totem-like rock formations in No Thoroughfare Canyon

May 6, 2020, Colorado National Monument

I parked early in the day near the Eastern entrance to Colorado National Monument. Just inside the entrance, there’s a car park home to three popular hikes: the Serpent’s Trail, No-Thoroughfare Canyon, and the Devil’s Kitchen. Having just completed the Serpent’s Trail, it was time for me to explore the latter two. Right up front, I’ll give you my hot take: Serpent’s Trail is an excellent workout with great views. Devil’s Kitchen is short and fun to explore, especially with kids. No Thoroughfare Canyon is a bit of a trek with minimal payoff. I’d maybe skip this one if you’re short on time.

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Serpent’s Trail (Colorado Nat’l Monument)

Sunrise over No-Thoroughfare Canyon, as seen from the Serpent's Trail at Colorado National Monument.

May 6, 2020, Colorado National Monument

I arrived bright and early at the Eastern entrance to Colorado National Monument around 7 am. The “monument” features a collection of canyons that form the western wall of the valley containing Grand Junction.

Across town, the Sun had just begun to peek over the rim of the Eastern mesas. Its golden rays lit up the canyons I was about to hike in a stunning fashion. I can list many reasons to start a hike as early as possible—heat, safety, and better parking being the most important. But a gorgeous sunrise is perhaps the most compelling reason of all.

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