Colorado National Monuments
Browns Canyon National Monument
307 West Sackett Ave.
Salida, CO 81201
Browns Canyon is one of the nation's most popular whitewater rafting locations. Designated as a national monument in 2015, the canyon is carved by the Arkansas River and hosts anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, and more, throughout the year. Bighorn sheep, elk, deer, and raptors are just a few of the animal species native to Browns Canyon. Camp, mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking, OHV riding, and rock climbing are the most popular activities in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. Brown’s Canyon is listed as one of the most Gorgeous Places in Colorado.
Colorado National Monument
Fruita, CO 81521
Colorado National Monument is a photographer’s dream with colorfully striated cliff walls, rock arches, high mesas and ample wildlife. View the varied formations by taking the winding 23-mile Rim Rock Drive along the plateau, where wind and water-sculpted sandstone greet you around every turn. Colorado National Monument is a gateway to the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway. Prehistoric rock art is found along this route, as are many dinosaur excavation sites, where museum-quality bones have been extracted. Explore the geological wonders while biking, wildlife viewing, or camping.
Chimney Rock National Monument
3179 CO Hwy. 151, PO Box 1662
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147
Chimney Rock National Monument was once home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians, and is considered to have great spiritual significance. More than 200 homes and ceremonial structures were built by the Chaco people, 1,000 years ago, near the twin rock structures that give the monument its name. From mid-May through September, guided walking tours are available of the 4,100-acre archaeological site. If you plan ahead, every 18.6 years, a lunar standstill takes place at Chimney Rock. The next predicted alignment is in 2022. Nearby Pagosa Springs, in the San Juan National Forest, and Navajo State Park offer an array of outdoor activities.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Anasazi Heritage Center
BLM 27501 Highway 184
Dolores, CO 81323
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument holds the distinction of having the highest density of archaeological sites in the country. It features Ancestral Puebloan history, and the unspoiled land of Colorado’s high desert. The Lowry Pueblo is the only developed recreation site within the monument. With interpretive signs and brochures on-site, you can take a self-guided tour of a historic Ancestral Puebloan structure. The Anasazi Heritage Center is an educational experience in which one can view many exhibits, and attend special events. Explore on your own, and bring a picnic lunch.
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
15807 Teller County Rd. 1
Divide, CO 80816
Tourists have been visiting the fossil beds here since the 1870s. Groves of petrified redwood forests and thousands of fossilized insects populate this national monument. Up to 1,500 different kinds of fossil insects have been found here, making it one of the most diverse insect fossil sites in the world.
Follow novice hiking trails to the petrified forests and see some of the largest petrified sequoias in the world.
Dinosaur National Monument
4545 E Hwy. 40
Dinosaur, CO 81610
Dinosaur National Monument is where imagination meets reality, when face to face with giant fossils of prehistoric creatures. Most people visit to view the fossils, but there are plenty of activities to enjoy along the Green River. Fishing, wildlife viewing, rafting, camping and swimming make for a perfect family vacation destination.
Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument is remote and uncrowded. Within the Ancestral Puebloan ruins is as a bevy of structures, namely a series of stone towers. The site is famous for its square, oval, circular and “D”-shaped towers. Square Tower site is easily accessible, with a nice hiking trail and visitor center. This is a perfect place for day hiking to sites such as Cajon, Cutthroat Castle, Goodman Point, Holly and Horseshoe/Hackberry. The visitor center provides information to make the visit more enjoyable. Camping is available.
Yucca House National Monument
PO Box 8
Mesa Verde, CO 81330
Yucca House is an unexcavated Ancestral Puebloan valley pueblo near Towaoc. With a keen eye, visitors can use their imagination to reconstruct the pueblo as it was many years ago. Note that there are no amenities, so be prepared with ample water, food and necessary supplies.