ON THE EDGE OF THE UNCOMPAHGRE PLATEAU on Grand Junction, Colorado's southern skyline, Colorado National Monument glows in the Colorado Plateau sunset. There is much talk these days about the potential for the monument, whose boosters say has a name more befitting a granite obelisk than a 20,000 acre canyon-riddled wilderness, to become a national park called Colorado Canyons National Park.
Having lived in Grand Junction and visited Colorado National Monument more times than I can count (on a weekly basis while I lived there), it's hard to deny that the landscape protected within its boundaries is extraordinary. The monument is like Canyonlands National Park, only a tiny fraction of the size and on the edge of a sprawling city. And, the CCC-built Rim Rock Drive is without a doubt one of the most unforgettable and spectacular road cycling routes in all of Colorado. No trip to GJ for me is complete without a pedal up to the top of the Monument via Cold Shivers Point.
Whether Congress should re-designate the monument a national park is up for heated debate (and, frankly, I'm not sure myself) but whatever its fate, it will remain one of my favorite places in Colorado.
If you live in Mesa County, it's easy to take the monument a bit for granted. Spend the evening after getting off work taking a hike up No Thoroughfare Canyon, no camera in hand. An all-too-frequent occurrence, hence the shamefully few Colorado National Monument images in my collection. Nonetheless, I have a few, and these will give you an idea what's found amid those glowing redrock cliffs above Grand Junction. You can also check out my Colorado National Monument gallery on my website here.
Back in the day, there were people who wanted to turn the monument into a national park, expand the boundaries and protect this, the Mee Canyon Alcove, now part of the Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness adjacent to the monument. If the monument were to become a national park under the current unofficial proposal, Mee Canyon would not be included in the park.