This morning after a glacially slow breakfast at the hotel we make our way over to the Colorado National Monument. The Monument is sparsely attended today so that means we have it mostly to ourselves! Since we are starting at the east entrance we plan on driving the Rim Rock Drive stopping at the viewpoints and when we reach the Visitor’s Center near the west entrance we will do a short hike.
The first stop is Cold Shivers Point. Is that because the wind is blowing and it is still quite chilly this morning or because standing near the edge of the No Thoroughfare Canyon makes one shiver with fear?
The next stop is at Red Canyon Overlook. This is a canyon within a canyon or a hanging canyon. The softer rock eroded quickly (relatively speaking) until it reached the harder rock and then the erosion came to almost a standstill. Only fast moving streams managed to carve out a notch in the Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rock.
Back in the car we go to the next overlook, Ute Canyon View, which also has a short Ute garden interpretive trail. On the trail we learn that yuccas have their needles arranged in a spiral fashion to funnel scarce rain into the plant. Also that these yuccas are completely dependent for pollination on one insect, the yucca moth.
The shrubs and low trees that dot the desert landscape at this elevation are pinyon pines and juniper. The placard informs us that the needles on the pinyon pines grow in pairs.
Our next stop is at Fallen Rock Overlook.
We are interested now in getting to the Visitor’s Center and only stop at two of the last four overlooks. Some grand views are available to see at Grand View Overlook.
Our plan at the Visitor’s Center is to 1) use the restroom and 2) do a short hike along the rim. Pictures from the Rim Trail –
It is well after 2 PM now and time to find some lunch. John suggests we find a vegetarian restaurant somewhere in Fruita, CO, the closest town to the Monument. After finding zero vegetarian restaurants and zero Middle Eastern restaurants we decide on Mi Ranchito, a Mexican restaurant which has gotten 4.5 stars on Yelp. We are tired and hungry which is never a good combination for ordering well.
We head back to the hotel and catch up on our email and lie about playing games on our iPads and nodding off (me.) Dinner around 8 PM is a trip downstairs to the restaurant in the hotel for an order of chicken wings (mostly for John) and a salad for me.