A red-rock playground for outdoor adventurers, Colorado National Monument offers a multitude of ways to enjoy its scenic wonders.
Hikers can choose from over 45 miles of maintained trails ranging from 0.25 miles to over 14 miles. Take the Canyon Rim Trail for great canyon views, wander along the Ute Garden Interpretive Trail for an educational excursion, or choose the family-friendly Alcove Nature Trail.
Alcove Nature Trail is conveniently located directly across Rim Rock Drive from the Saddlehorn Visitor Center. Be sure to get a detailed trail guide at the trailhead or at the visitor center. The guide includes information about local plants and animals, plus fun facts like why Native Americans used juniper tree bark for diapers. It's also fascinating to learn that you’re walking into the middle of an ancient sand dune.
Be sure to stay on the trail; footprints can destroy the biological soil crust that takes decades to form.
Rugged sandstone cliffs and dramatic rock features enticed John Otto to use pick and shovel to create hiking trails when he arrived here in 1906. Because he championed this unique place, visitors have opportunities for adventure here. He wrote editorials, collected petition signatures and sent letters to politicians advocating for a national park. In 1911, President William Taft established Colorado National Monument, preserving this wondrous place for all adventurers.