Day 7: Colorado National Monument

Ute Canyon in Colorado National Monument.  Grand Junction lies in the distance.

Ute Canyon in Colorado National Monument. Grand Junction lies in the distance.

Here then was a surprise – Mum doesn’t like heights, at least, not the sort of heights where you are on the road and the passenger side of the car is more often than not looking down into oblivion, along sheer cliffs of red stone that descend hundreds of feet. This was the concept of the man who built the road, to take people up to where only birds flew. Given the number of rude drivers who tailgate, honk and tear down this narrow winding road, it is surprising that we did not see more cars flying off the edge of these twisting byways.

The entry is further off the highway than Trixie thought, and is just barely marked by signage; in the park though, the park signs are more prominent, but the amenities are lacking. Other than the first and last stops, most places to pause lack a properly marked path or fencing to prevent a careless tourist from wandering off the edge to oblivion below. This is part of their keeping things natural scheme I suppose, although much of the road was built in the 1930’s during the Great Depression.

Most old Westerns are shot in Monument Valley far to the south, with its mesas and desolate vistas. Her, you drive upon mesas in the making, their vivid red stone cracked asunder by the forces of nature and laced with dusty green plants that stubbornly thrive in these conditions. The contrasts are enough to take your breath away, and at every turn something more wondrous appears.

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