upper ute canyon & the coke ovens trail at colorado national monument

As we drove along Canyon Rim Drive, we stopped for a side view of Independence Monument. The first caretaker of Colorado National Monument, John Otto, climbed boldly up the 450-foot sandstone Independence Monument on July 4, 1911, where he hoisted the U.S. flag to celebrate Independence Day.  Every July 4, about 30 Grand Valley climbers follow Otto’s footsteps to the top of Independence Monument with the guidance of the Mesa County Search and Rescue Team.

To make that first ascent in 1911, Otto hand-drilled holes up the north and west face of the sandstone monolith and pounded iron pipes into the holes, creating an iron ladder for others to follow.


side view of Independence Monument

Monument Canyon is more expansive than Wedding Canyon, and lies to the south of the latter.  We stop for a look at the Monument Canyon View, and a little further south, Artists Point.


Monument Canyon View

The palette of color at Artists Point includes lichens, dark brown desert varnish (iron and manganese compounds and clay), white calcite coatings, and the browns, yellows, blues and greens found in mudstones.  Clear quartz grains appear rust red in the sandstones due to iron oxide.


Artist’s Point


Artist’s Point

The Upper Ute Canyon overlook is known for the formation that looks like a mummy on the opposite wall.


Upper Ute Canyon overlook – mummy

As we walk along the canyon rim, we can experience an echo effect. We do our share of yelling and listening to our echoes, as the curved walls of the canyon take our voices and hurl them back at us.


Upper Ute Canyon Overlook – the echo chamber

In the video below, you can hear us yelling, but sadly the echo is barely audible.  I can hear it on my original, and while we were there, we could hear it loud and clear. 🙂


desert paintbrush, or Castilleja


Ute Canyon


Ute Canyon

We drive as far south as we can until we are forced to turn around; the road to the park’s East (Grand Junction) Entrance is closed for repairs. Turning back, we stop for lunch at the Red Canyon Overlook then head for the Coke Ovens Overlook and Trail. Below is our view of Monument Canyon as we descend on the trail. At this time of day, around 1:40, it’s getting quite warm.


Coke Ovens Trail

The path skirts Entrada Sandstone outcroppings on its descent to the overlook.


Coke Ovens Trail


Coke Ovens Trail

Carved by weathering and erosion, the massive Coke Ovens resemble the man-made ovens used to convert coal into coke (industrial fuel) from the early 20th century.


Coke Ovens overlook


Juniper-pinyon woodland


Coke Ovens


Coke Ovens

This trail was only 1.4 miles out and back, a short hike well worth the views of the Coke Ovens from above.


On Sundays, I plan to post various walks that I took on our Four Corners trip as well as hikes I take locally while training for the Camino de Santiago; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.

This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Cragside.