Our third day on tour began at a leisurely hour with departure set for 9am. The group checked out of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Grand Junction and we made our way up steep serpentine roads to the park entrance of the Colorado National Monument for a scenic drive along the edge of the Mesa.
A true gem of a park, this sparsely frequented monument impressed with panoramic vistas onto the Colorado River valley below, interspersed by stone pillars and cliff formations reminiscent of Mesa Verde, yet uniquely shaped by wind and weather over thousand of years. It was a revelation to our group and I am grateful that #GoCollette features this stop on three of its western trips. Our “Painted Canyons of the West” program features it as well as the “Colorado Rockies” and the “America’s National Parks & Denver.”
Over a two hour timespan we got to experience multiple vantage points of this surreal landscape, complete with a real-life painter (below) capturing the reds of the rocks as well as some wildlife in the form of two bighorn sheep. My camera (above) only caught one of them as these mammals are super fast runners.
Our lunch stop today was on our own in the historic heart of Grand Junction from where we caught interstate 70 west into Utah. After a 40 minute ride, we turned off the highway by Cisco and followed scenic route 128 along the Colorado River through fissure valley to our home base for 2 nights at Red River Lodge. (See for yourself – it is stunning). Our evening will include a chuck wagon dinner outdoor. See more about that In tomorrow’s blog.