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Colorado National Monument Hiking Trails. A good way to explore Colorado National Monument is by trail. There are more than 40 miles of short and backcountry trails, with more than a dozen well-marked hikes ranging from a ¼ mile to 14 miles. Fruita, CO, 81521. 970/858–3617. www.nps.gov/colm. Otto's Trail. An easy 30-minute stroll with sweeping canyon views, Otto's Trail greets hikers with breezes scented by sagebrush and juniper, which stand out from the dull red rock and sand. The trail leads to stunning sheer drop-offs and endless views. At the end of the half-mile trail at Otto's Overlook you can hear the wind in the feathers of birds as they soar out of the canyon. Trailhead: Rim Rock Dr., 1 mile from western gate visitor center, 81521. Serpents Trail. This trail has been called the "Crookedest Road in the World" because of its more than 50 switchbacks. The fairly steep but rewarding trail, which ascends several hundred feet, takes about two hours to complete, depending on your ability (and the heat). Trailhead: Serpents Trail parking lot, ¼ mile from east gate.
Rimrock Adventures. This company runs horseback rides near Colorado National Monument as well as through Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Preserve. Rimrock Adventures also runs a variety of rafting excursions and easygoing float trips. 927 Hwy. 340, Fruita, CO, 81521. 970/858–9555 or 888/712–9555. www.rradventures.com.
Adventure Bound River Expeditions. This company runs trips on the Colorado, Green, and Yampa rivers—the latter through the canyons of Dinosaur National Monument. 2392 H Rd., Grand Junction, CO, 81505. 970/245–5428 or 800/423–4668. www.adventureboundusa.com.
The stunning stark sandstone and shale formations of Colorado National Monument are a rock climber's paradise. Independence Monument is a favorite climb.
Desert Crags & Cracks. Experienced desert-rock guide Kris Hjelle owns and operates Desert Crags & Cracks, specializing in guiding and instruction on the desert rocks of western Colorado and eastern Utah. 970/245–8513. www.desertcrags.com.