Back over the Mountain

Fruita, CO – April 3, 2017

Leslie and I left Colorado Springs on April 3, a day earlier than we had planned.  Our trip back to Fruita, Colorado included four mountain passes; Ute Pass, Wilkerson Pass, Hoosier Pass, and Vail Pass.  The weather forecast called for heavy snowfall beginning the afternoon of April 3.  We did not wish to be stranded in a snow storm.

We were on the road by about 06:00.  It was a cloudy, dreary day.  Alma, Colorado is at foot of the eastern side of Hoosier Pass.  That is where we first encountered snow.  It was not heavy, but it was snowing.  The snow continued until we reached Breckenridge, Colorado.  That town is at the foot of the western side of Hoosier Pass.  The snow was never bad enough to impact the road conditions.

At Frisco, Colorado we merged onto Interstate 70 west, beginning our ascent of Vail Pass.  We encountered a little bit of snow near the summit of Vail Pass; but, just as before, it was not bad enough to impact the road conditions.

We made it to Fruita with no problems.  Later that evening, we saw on the news that the State closed many of the roads through the Rocky Mountains because of the heavy snow.  We were glad to have made it through unscathed.

From many places in Fruita, one can see the Colorado National Monument.  It is one of my favorite places to visit and photograph.  I discovered there are some petroglyphs within the boundaries of the Monument.  I tracked down the location, drove to the trailhead, and walked the very short distance to the petroglyphs.  My disappointment was immense.  I did find the rock and petroglyphs I read about.  Unfortunately, vandals have chiseled names, initials, and drawings onto the rock surface.  It was quite difficult to determine the authentic petroglyphs.  I did take some photographs; however, I have not included any here because I just did not like them.  On a side note, I did take some other photographs, such as a unique hole in the sandstone near the petroglyphs.

A unique hole in the rock in the Colorado National Monument.

One morning I decided I wanted to find a road that leads up into the Book Cliffs.  I remembered the road from a previous trip, but I did not remember how to get there.  I took a stab at finding the road.  Leslie and I ended up at the North Fruita Desert.  Even though there were a lot of people camping in the area, it still had a very empty feel.

Looking toward the Book Cliffs near Fruita, Colorado.

Since I could not find the road for which I was looking, we decided to go to the Colorado River.  I selected the Kokopelli Trails area near Loma, Colorado.

Leslie and I walked a portion of the Kokopelli Trails.  The sandstone formations there are stunning.  While we were there, we saw dozens of people on mountain bikes.  On the lower trail, I stood beside the trail, waiting for a mountain biker to pass by.  With so many cyclists around, we did not have to wait long.

A mountain biker descending on the lower trail in Kokopelli Trails.

One of the most unique things we saw was a house carved into a sandstone cliff.  It was unique; however, we both agreed there was no way we could live in such a home.  We were certain the rooms at the back of the home would be quite claustrophobic.

A cliff house near the Kokopelli Trails area.

One of the last things Leslie and I did before we returned to New Zealand, was a hike along the Canyon Rim Trail in the Colorado National Monument.  The views were stunning.  One of my most favorite views; although it was not on the trail, was that of the Balanced Rock.  The Colorado National Monument is a must-see for anyone traveling to the Fruita/Grand Junction, Colorado area.

The Balanced Rock in the Colorado National Monument.
Layered sandstone in a dry creek bed in the Colorado National Monument near Fruita, Colorado.
An ancient tree and some prickly pear cactus in the Colorado National Monument.
Looking west in one of the canyons in the Colorado National Monument.
Layered cliff in the Colorado National Monument.
Some of the wilderness in the Colorado National Monument.
View of the upper and lower trails at the Kokopelli Trails area near Loma, Colorado.
Looking east from Kokopelli Trails toward Grand Junction, Colorado.
The upper trail at Kokopelli Trails hugs the top of the cliff in the distance.
Looking across the plateau in the Kokopelli Trails area.
A sandstone cliff in the Kokopelli Trails area.
A panoramic view of an area in Kokopelli Trails.
A sandstone tower in the Kokopelli Trails area.
The cliff edge along the Canyon Rim Trail in the Colorado National Monument.
An old cedar tree in front of the Pipe Organ formation in the Colorado National Monument.
A sandstone overhang in the Colorado National Monument.
The Pipe Organ formation in the Colorado National Monument.
We stopped for photo along the Canyon Rim Trail in the Colorado National Monument.
An ancient cedar tree in the Colorado National Monument.
In the very center of the photograph, one can see Independence Monument in the Colorado National Monument.
Some of the sandstone textures on a cliff face in the Colorado National Monument.
Looking along the edge of a canyon at the Canyon Rim Trail in the Colorado National Monument.

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