Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dillon Pinnacles, Curecanti National Recreation Area

Dillon Pinnacles
Curecanti National Recreation Area

Date Hiked: July 5, 2008

Distance: 4 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 600ft
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: None

Curecanti NRA Hiking Website (NPS)

Directions:  Curecanti NRA is located along Hwy 50 between Montrose and Gunnison.  Whichever way you enter the park, the Dillon Pinnacles trailhead is located on the Northern shore of Middle Bridge.

Curecanti NRA is one of those parks that really needs to be seen by boat.  There are a handful of hikes in the park, but they are short and sweet.  The Dillon Pinnacles hike is one of the longer hikes and gives you a great view of both the reservoir and the unique geologic features along the canyon walls.  Although the hike does not take you into the pinnacles, you do get an up close view.

The hike follows the north shore of Sapinero Basin, turns inland and up the hillside and finishes with a small loop.  The trail is open and exposed the entire time allowing for 360 degree views of the park.  For the best view of the pinnacles, drive over Middle Bridge to the southern shore.  The reservoir with the pinnacles as a backdrop is dramatic.  Curecanti has a lot to offer even if it is typically overshadowed by it's big brother, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Mounument Canyon Trail, Colorado National Monument

Monument Canyon Trail
Colorado National Monument

Date Hiked: July 4, 2008

Distance: 7 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain/Loss: 850ft
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: No

Colorado National Monument Hiking Brochure (NPS)

Directions:  This hike starts from the Upper Monument Canyon Trailhead located 3.8 mi east of the Colorado NM Visitor Center on Rim Rock Drive.

This is a wonderful trail and takes you into the heart of Colorado National Monument.  For the first mile, you descend down along the high cliff wall to the bottom of Monument Canyon.  This part of the hike is steep but phenomenal.  Once you reach the canyon floor the next 2.5 miles weaves you through red rock formations including the Kissing Couple and takes you to the base of Independence Monument (the park's main attraction).  The hike along the canyon floor is relatively flat and it gets very hot, bring lots of water.  Once you reach the monument you can continue for another 2.5 miles to the lower trailhead or head back the way you came.  The climb out of the canyon is steep so save some energy.

This hike just may be the best way to experience the grandeur of Colorado National Monument and it is well worth the effort.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Window Rock Trail, Colorado National Monument

Window Rock Trail
Colorado National Monument

Date Hiked: July 3, 2008

Distance: .5 RT
Elevation Gain: Negligible
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: No

Colorado National Monument Trail Map (NPS)

Directions:  This trail leaves from the Saddlerock Campground next to the Visitor Center on Rim Rock Road.

Since this short but scenic trail starts at the campground, it makes for a wonderful hike to do in the evening as the sun is setting.  The trail leads to a viewpoint on the canyon rim with a wonderful view of the Southern section of the Canyon.  It is a wonderful place to sit on the canyon rim and enjoy the evening light and the welcome breeze.