otto’s trail & the devils kitchen trail at colorado national monument

As we made our way back to the north entrance of the park, we stopped at Grand View, where we enjoyed a panorama including Independence Monument, Grand Valley, and the Book Cliffs.

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Independence Monument from the Grand View

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wildflowers at the Grand View

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Monoliths seen at the Grand View

At the viewpoint, we could almost reach out and touch a 200-foot tall sandstone spire.ย  The top layer of this spire is the Kayenta Formation, more resistant to erosion than other sedimentary rocks in the park.ย  This formation was deposited by a high-energy braided river system similar to the Rio Grande River in New Mexico.ย  The bottom layers are the Wingate Formation, a tan sandstone whose sweeping tilted layers tell us this rock was deposited in a desert environment where wind-swept sands accumulated and were buried.ย  An environment like this can be found in the modern Sahara Desert of North Africa.

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The Grand View

The cliffs and monoliths of the Monument are made primarily of sandstones over 200 million years old.

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The Grand View

We took two more hikes at Colorado National Monument to wrap up our day.ย  We stopped to walk on Otto’s Trail, a gently sloping trail of 0.95 miles, where we enjoyed dramatic views of many monoliths.ย  We were walking in the footsteps of John Otto as we followed the route he used for his first ascent of the 450-foot high Independence Monument.

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dead juniper on Otto’s Trail

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John Otto’s climb on Independence Monument

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Independence Monument from Otto’s Trail

On this late afternoon, we spotted some climbers atop Independence Monument. I don’t know if they were enjoying the view or too terrified to come down!ย  Years ago, I climbed Pilot Rock in Oregon with my first husband and his best friend.ย  Climbing up was fine, although a little scary, but when it was time to come down, I was so terrified I couldn’t do it.ย  I cried, wept actually, and told them they were going to have to call a helicopter to rescue me. Finally, inch by inch, they encouraged me to climb down as they stood beneath me (as if they could really catch me if I fell!).ย  I am careful now not to go up anything so steep that I’d be afraid to come down.

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Rock climbers on Independence Monument

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view from the end of Otto’s Trail

We stopped at the Balanced Rock View on our way out of the northern entrance.ย  Balanced Rock is a snapshot in time that won’t last forever.ย  Gravity will someday cause it to fall.

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Balanced Rock view

We had to drive outside of the park and to the southeast entrance to do the Devils Kitchen Trail. It took us about an hour to hike to a natural rock room formed by huge upright boulders.

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cacti along the Devils Kitchen Trail

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Devils Kitchen Trail

I loved how the cottonwood trees glowed in the sunlight.

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cottonwoods along the Devils Kitchen Trail

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Devils Kitchen Trail

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Devils Kitchen Trail

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flora along the Devils Kitchen Trail

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Devils Kitchen Trail

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cacti along Devils Kitchen Trail

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cacti along Devils Kitchen Trail

We crossed a wash and then climbed uphill on a slickrock bench to get to the Devils Kitchen.ย  The trail was a bit confusing and we got on the wrong track several times.

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Devils Kitchen Trail

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Devils Kitchen Trail

Devils Kitchen is a natural rock room surrounded by Wingate Sandstone cliffs, and provides a bit of a resting spot after the steep ascent.

I loved looking at the patterns on the towering rocks.

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inside Devils Kitchen

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Devils Kitchen Trail

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Devils Kitchen

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Devils Kitchen Trail

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Devils Kitchen Trail

The Devil’s Kitchen hike was 2.7 miles and took us a 1:04 hours. Between getting out for the various viewpoints and the hikes we took, we walked 18,913 steps, or 8.01 miles, over the course of the day.

On the way out of the park, we passed by the Book Cliffs along the southern and western edge of the Tavaputs Plateau.

** Monday, May 7, 2018 **

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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 Joโ€™s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.

This post is in response to Joโ€™s Monday Walk: Same river, different city.