There are many, many beautiful places in Colorado. And, Colorado National Monument is one of the most beautiful. I had the opportunity to visit as a chaperone for a group of Fourth Graders on their end of the year camping trip. As much as I love nature, I like my morning showers enough to not be a big camper. I was a bit apprehensive about three days in a tent but it was a beautiful and special experience.
Colorado has many beautiful National Parks and Monuments where you can really get in touch with nature. Sometimes you do really need to sleep in a tent and strap on some hiking boots to see these special places are their best. At Colorado National Monument we had the opportunity to see the most spectacular sunsets, a blood moon, wildlife such as Turkey Vultures, Black Widows, Big Horn Sheep and other wildlife, and to endure a pretty good sand storm.
Camp by the Visitor’s Center at Colorado National Monument
We had a campsite just around the corner from the Visitor’s Center. There were quite a few campsites in the area all with access to spectacular views and a bathroom with running water, real toilets and electrical outlets. The views were the best. But, as a fair weather camper the running water was really nice. These campsites do book up so you will want to reserve yours in advance.
Hiking and Rock Climbing at Colorado National Monument
I am sure that beautiful hikes and challenging rock walls about at Colorado National Monument. Our guides from SOS took us on a good hike where we spotted Turkey Vultures, as well as Black Widows and Green Lizards. We learned about rock formations over the centuries. And, then headed back down the hill so the kids could challenge themselves climbing a sheer rock wall.
Challenges at Colorado National Monument
For some of the kids being away from home was the challenge. Perhaps for others it was the hiking or climbing. And, for some kids it may have been all of the above. The one challenge that we all took on together was a massive wind storm that blew over the tents. Saving the tents and getting them all back up and tied down well with rocks took a real team effort. Hopefully, every child returned home with a bit more confidence in realizing the things they can accomplish and do on their own.
Evening Entertainment at Colorado National Monument
While most people camping at Colorado National Monument may roast S’mores, play cards or just enjoy the stars, we had the privilege of enjoying programs run by SOS Outreach. These included traditional camp games where the guides had fun embarrassing the parent chaperones as much as the kiddos. And, the second night we got hear to hear an amazing local storyteller. She enthralled the kids with classics they’d never heard such as Briar Rabbit. The looks on their faces as she spun her tales were priceless. The backdrop was pretty impressive too.
Insider Tip: Make sure to pick up a Junior Ranger Book for your kids on the way in to the park and have them complete it before departing so they can earn a Junior Ranger Badge.
Other Things to Do Around Colorado National Monument
Eureka! Math and Science Center
Eureka! Math and Science Center in Grand Junction is a really cool science museum. It recently opened a new facility and the exhibits are outstanding. A glass bee hive enthralled the dad chaperones while the kids bounced from one engaging exhibit to another. I was most sad that I couldn’t spend enough time on one puzzle exhibit that I really wanted to figure out. Apparently I’ll just have to go back with just two kids instead of forty to be able to solve that one.
Museum of the West
The Museum of the West in Grand Junction was also interesting. My daughter really enjoyed seeing a couple of exhibits on Chief Ouray, Chipetta and the Utes which she had recently studied as part of a Fourth grade project. An old airplane, fire truck, phone booth and model post office and school room were fun to see. It was well worth a stop for a dose of Colorado history.
Learn about other fun family hikes on the Western Slope of Colorado. What are some of your favorite areas of Colorado? Tell us in the comments below!