Magazine article Sunset

Red Rocks and Spring Flowers in Western Colorado

Magazine article Sunset

Red Rocks and Spring Flowers in Western Colorado

Article excerpt

travel guide

Colorado National Monument is a spectacle of freestanding monoliths and dramatic spires and domes. And the place is almost a secret: Absent are the crowds who haunt the Southwest's more famous canyons.

This desert park, outside Grand Junction, Colorado, has been shaped by wind and water erosion over millions of years. Its rocks are painted in bold tones of ocher and saffron. Springtime adds more color to the scene with the blooms of lipstick red Indian paintbrush, yellow cliff rose, and pink evening primrose.

You can take it all in from Rim Rock Drive, a 23-mile paved road that twists and turns across this high, rugged country.

A surprise awaits you at every curve. Start at the East Entrance Gate and head west, where you'll soon come to Devils Kitchen, a grotto full of upright boulders. Close by is the 2-mile Serpents Trail, a moderately difficult hike with more than 50 switchbacks (it's nicknamed "the crookedest road in the world"). Back in your car, you'll drive over a 6,640foot summit, then wind your way to the Coke Ovens, a series of monoliths with domed tops. …

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