This is our second time at Colorado National Monument in the Saddlehorn Campground, where we had difficulty finding a level site. Our entry step was so high due to all the blocks we needed, we decided to move to a better site when someone left the following morning.
$10/night with the senior pass gets you water, flush toilets, trash and recycling, but no hookups or dump. But there is a nice dump station and water fill at the Fruita Visitor Center 7 miles away.
We’ve had some rain and thunderstorms off and on, but managed to hike all the trails we can access from the campground, and those along the scenic drive.
Yesterday morning we went to Grand Junction to shop at REI’s famous garage sale, where I spent a whole $12 on a pair of shorts. On a rainy day a couple days prior we spent nearly all day shopping at REI, Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse. I bought two jackets and Jim bought one. Since we were replacing ones we’ve had for at least 10-15 years it was about time.
On the way back yesterday we hiked the Lower Monument Canyon/Wedding Canyon Loop. It’s 2.5 miles to Independence Monument along the base of massive sandstone cliffs, just a beautiful hike, although a pretty good climb.
Getting closer to Independence Monument.
John Otto first climbed Independence Monument and placed a flag at the top on the 4th of July, 1911, and this tradition still takes place today. He also got married at the base of it but the marriage lasted only a few weeks. Apparently he wanted to continue living in a tent, much to his wife’s dismay. Here is a quote from her:
"I tried hard to live his way, but I could not do it, I could not live with a man to whom even a cabin was an encumbrance." Beatrice Farnham Otto
Otto is the man who lobbied for this to become a national park, and he worked as custodian here for 16 years. He built many of the trails we are still hiking on today.
To make this a loop we returned on the Wedding Canyon trail, a very rough, rocky steep descent on an unmaintained trail. More great scenery heading down this canyon.
And now for the sheep. We have seen desert bighorns a few times in our travels, but never as many as we’ve seen here this past week. Of course none of our sightings were on trails, just from the road while driving in the car.
Just past the visitor center one day we saw a man in the road taking photos. Jim said he wondered why someone was taking a picture of the speed limit sign, and then we spotted them.
Later that same day we came to a surprise in the road, where this biker was stopping traffic. Actually, we were the only car.
They climbed up on the rock guardrail and ran right next to the car.
On our way to REI yesterday morning there was an organized bike ride, and we passed numerous riders coming up the road. As we descended on the road we came around a bend and saw several bikers stopped taking pictures of an entire herd of bighorns! I counted at least 13.
This female had a couple of suitors but she didn’t appear very interested.
After nearing extinction, a small number were reintroduced to Colorado National Monument in 1979, and now there are over 40. This guy was very handsome.
Was hoping to do one last hike but it’s been raining all morning. If the weather cooperates we’re moving on to Moab tomorrow. This time we remembered to stock up on beer before entering Utah.