In the age of John Muir, some 1000 miles from Yosemite Valley, a kindred spirit and fervent conservationist John Otto was dedicating himself to protecting and promoting the land that today we know as Colorado National Monument.
Otto built the first trails into this rugged landscape to reach the glorious red rock canyons. He climbed the steep monoliths to post the American Flag from the highest vantage points he could reach. He surveyed the first road, Trail of the Serpent - four miles with 52 switchbacks.
Otto worked tirelessly with the communities of Grand Junction and Fruita advocating for the creation of a national park to protect the extraordinary geology of ancient canyons and towering monoliths. Ultimately, Colorado National Monument was established on May 24, 1911, as a presidential proclamation by President Taft under the authority of the Antiquities Act.
Did You Know?
Independence Monument is all that remains of a continuous ridge that once formed a wall between Monument and Wedding Canyons. A cap of durable Kayenta rock has protected this picturesque 450 feet (137 meters) high monolith from the relentless erosion that carried away the surrounding rock.