Exploring CNM- Monument Canyon

We are so fortunate to have a place like the Colorado National Monument in our own backyard!

Taking advantage of the rare 70 degree weather in March today … we grabbed the kids and hit the trail.

Parking at the bottom trailhead and shuttling to the top, we opted to hike one way from top to bottom – which, judging from the shuffle of little feet at the end, was a good choice.

From the upper trailhead, Monument Canyon trail descends over 1000 vertical ft in the first mile than meanders down the length of the canyon past sheer cliffs and sculptured monoliths.

At the bottom of the canyon we crunched across some of the oldest exposed rock on earth – precambrian gneiss and schist with ribbons of granite and crystals that sparkle in the sunshine.

While we didn’t see any wildlife beyond the occasional lizard and a variety of birds, we did see frequent animal signs such as scat and tracks left by deer, coyote and bighorn sheep.

A section of the rock face that is frequently used by climbers is currently closed to protect a nesting pair of golden eagles.  We thought we saw one circling overhead briefly.

We were on the trail about 4 hours including a break for lunch… another half hour to shuttle back up to the vehicle parked at the top.  Great way to spend the day!

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Road trip? Gimmee a break!

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I love road trips! My favorite road trips are those that are more trip and less road 🙂  Ones that might leave our final destination for the day  to the whims and lure of the landscape.
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To sit staring through a windshield  can be mind numbing if not punctuated by frequent pauses to stretch your legs and get a closer look at the native flora and fauna… Maybe learn a little history or snap some pictures.

 

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Of course, sometimes it’s hard to know where to explore when you’ve never been there before.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a community of friends willing to share their favorite trails, viewpoints, local color, and unique features?  Add to this the fun of a scavenger hunt and you’ve described my favorite way to take a break from the road when we are traveling….. Let’s go find a cache!

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When the scenery gets intriguing or it’s time for a lunch break, I grab my smart phone or GPS and do a search of nearby geocaches…. I look for one off the road ahead of us that can either be reached in our vehicle or via a short hike.  The description often imparts a bit of information or history to add to our enjoyment of the area…. And the fun of scrambling around in bushes, rocks,  hillsides and ravines looking for a hidden container is just the kind of physical and mental activity I’m looking for!  Family friendly fun outdoors with high tech devices… What could be more fun!?

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You will no doubt hear more about geocaching from me here in future posts…. But if I’ve piqued your curiosity … Check out the info and tutorials for beginning cachers at www.geocaching.com Registration is free – a great value for the hours of memorable adventures you will have with this techy pastime.
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If you have any particular caching interests or questions.. post them in your comments and I’ll be sure to address them now or in future posts. Until then… just gimmee a break 😉

Happy caching!