• U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Foundation Document Overview National Monument Colorado

© Darlyne Merkel

Contact Information For more information about the Colorado National Monument Foundation Document, contact: [email protected] or (970) 858-3617 ext. 300 or write to: Superintendent, Colorado National Monument, 1750 Rim Rock Drive, Fruita, CO 81521-0001 Purpose Significance

Significance statements express why Colorado National Monument resources and values are important enough to merit national park unit designation. Statements of significance describe why an area is important within a global, national, regional, and systemwide context. These statements are linked to the purpose of the park unit, and are supported by data, research, and consensus. Significance statements describe the distinctive nature of the park and inform management decisions, focusing efforts on preserving and protecting the most important resources and values of the park unit. • Colorado National Monument exposes and preserves three different groups of rock and sediment—the first is the Early to Middle Proterozoic gneiss and schist; then the horizontally bedded sedimentary rocks; and the youngest being the various types of Quaternary deposits such as alluvium, colluvium, and dunes reflecting two billion years of Earth history. Wind and water continues olorado ational The purpose of C N to form and reveal spectacular land forms and viewsheds Monument is to provide for the of canyons, , and towering monoliths at the preservation, understanding, and northeastern gateway of the Colorado . enjoyment of its natural and cultural • Colorado National Monument preserves and protects resources as showcased by its representative examples of intact high ecosystems extraordinary erosional, geological, of the Colorado Plateau, providing opportunities for scientific studies. and historical landscapes reflective of • Colorado National Monument preserves and protects the Plateau and of cultural, physical, paleontological, biological, and geological great scientific interest. resources and values for education, interpretation, and enjoyment within a growing urban community. Fundamental Resources and Values & Other Important Resources and Values

• Human History. The continuum of human use and cultural ties are revealed by rock art, lithic scatters, and historic trails and routes of ancestral peoples including the Archaic, Fremont, and Ute tribes, informing the rich and diverse museum collections of Colorado National Monument. Other historic cultural resources such as Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Mission 66 structures, artifacts, and stories serve to document the more recent time line of human history in the monument. • Rim Rock Drive. The idea of a roadway along the rim of the red rock canyons was a rallying point for local support that led to the preservation of the national monument. As a road engineering masterpiece of the Great Depression era, Rim Rock Drive has earned its listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The scenic roadway is inseparable from the identity of the monument, providing the primary platform from which visitors can experience, understand, and appreciate the beauty of the monument. • Scenery. The striking and colorfully sculpted canyons, Fundamental resources and values are those features, systems, monoliths, rock formations, and distant views of the processes, experiences, stories, scenes, sounds, smells, or other attributes determined to merit primary consideration during Grand Valley, Book Cliffs, and Grand along with planning and management processes because they are essential to the , encompass a visual beauty that stirs achieving the purpose of the park and maintaining its significance. imaginations, forges individual connections between people and the monument, and is embedded in the • Geologic Processes. The magnificent scenery, character and identity of Colorado’s Western Slope. beauty of the monument are the result of geologic processes in many forms, including sedimentation, faulting, uplift, erosion, Colorado National Monument contains other resources landslides, rockfalls, and flash floods. Geologic processes and values that may not be fundamental to the purpose dominate all other natural processes acting on the monument and significance of the park, but are important to consider landscape. in management and planning decisions. These are referred • Geologic Features. The abundant geologic features to as other important resources and values. preserved at Colorado National Monument provide an ideal • Wilderness. The monument encompasses some 20,000 outdoor lab for ongoing scientific study of the of acres, of which approximately 15,000 acres have been the Colorado Plateau. Particularly notable are the hanging identified or proposed as wilderness and serve as a canyons (U-shaped valleys), rock layers that record geologic refuge for self-discovery, solitude, and natural quiet. history, distinctive monoliths and canyons, and the Great The wilderness acreage is still under congressional Unconformity (1.2 billion years of absent rock history). consideration and is managed under NPS policy as a • Ecological Systems. The species, landscapes, and related wilderness until formally designated by Congress. attributes so highly valued by monument visitors and society • Diversity of Visitor Experiences. Colorado National at large cannot be preserved without also conserving the Monument’s proximity to an urban setting provides ecological systems of which they are a part. Some of the key opportunities for a diversity of visitor experiences components of the system are eco-regional distinctiveness through education, interpretation, and recreation. (old-growth pinyon-juniper forest, hanging gardens), ecological functionality (air, water, and hydrological processes; biological soil crusts; riparian and wetland ecosystems); and native grasslands and sagebrush shrublands. Description

Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand Around 440,000 people per year visit Colorado National landscapes of the American West. Sheer-walled canyons, Monument to enjoy these and other opportunities. towering monoliths, colorful formations, desert bighorn The monument encompasses some 20,000 acres, of sheep, soaring eagles, and a spectacular road reflect the which approximately 15,000 acres has been identified or environment and history of the plateau and canyon country. proposed as wilderness and serves as a refuge for self- Historic Rim Rock Drive offers 23 miles of breathtaking discovery, solitude, and natural quiet. The wilderness panoramic views and numerous scenic overlooks. Trails lead acreage is still under congressional consideration and is across mesa tops and into backcountry canyons. Picnicking managed under NPS policy as a wilderness until formally Some land outside the park Trail Overlook 7mi Distance along Ranger station Campground boundary is privately owned. 11km Rim Rock Drive and camping are available. At an average elevationPlease respect the owne ofrs’ 6,000 designated by Congress. rights and do not trespass. Access gate Unpaved road Wheelchair-accessible Picnic area feet at the rim, the climate is

To Fruita and 70 (exit 19) 2mi West Entrance to North relatively mild, but can change 4km Grand Junction 12mi 0 0.5 km 1 19km rapidly to snow or summer storms. 0 0.5 mile 1 Historic Trails View West (Fruita) Entrance 6 4690ft 50 N

O 1430m

Y N Tunnels A Redlands View

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Coke Ovens N CONSERVATION Y O South Broadway AREA Artists Point N E d To G o o Grand D I Squaw Fingers w e Ottos Bathtub d iv Junction R 7mi il r D 11km W K C A South Camp Road L B MONUMENT

rail T y Cap rt Highland View e ib Corkscrew To L Connector Rattlesnake MESA Trail Canyon COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT Bla Liberty Cap ck Ridg e Road 6479ft 1975m N Corkscrew O Y Trail N A To C Grand

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Highest point on Rim Rock Drive Y

l O 6640ft i a r N 2024m T

n o rd Waterfall o G

d l O N YO AN C Road Waterfall d/DS E oa R R A rk F Pa H e G ad U Gl st RO Ea THO NO

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