Winter Road Conditions as of 3pm 12/4/13
Rim Rock Drive is closed from DS Road to Independence Monument Overlook to all traffic, due to hazardous driving conditions from heavy snow and ice. The east and west hills are OPEN, expect slick conditions. Information Hotline: 970-858-3617, ext 402
Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)
Family: Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)
Description: may grow up to 9 m tall, although average height is 3-6 m. Seedling leaves are 5-10 mm long and needle-like in appearance. Mature leaves are 1-2 mm-long scales that hug the stems tightly. Bark is fibrous and often twisted. Cones are 8-13 mm in diameter and look like waxy, blue-brown berries 8-13 mm. This species is evergreen.
Range: occurs throughout the Rocky Mountain Region from Utah to Colorado, north to Montana, and south to New Mexico and Arizona. It grows throughout Colorado National Monument.
Did you know: the blue "berries" of the Utah Juniper are actually cones, making the Utah Juniper more closely related to a pine tree than to any true berry-producing plant. Various Native American groups in the desert west used Juniper "berries" medicinally, ceremonially, or secularly as beads. Today, we use the sour-tasting cones of the Juniper to flavor gin (which fittingly derives its name from Dutch jenever, meaning "juniper").
Did You Know?
Colorado National Monument's 23-mile Rim Rock Drive was built almost entirely using picks, shovels, and sheer muscle strength to remove massive rocks and debris. The engineering skill of Rim Rock Drive workers can be seen today in the road's tunnels and stonework. More...