Rim Rock Drive Timeline

May 24, 1911 Colorado National Monument established by Presidential Proclamation
1911 John Otto, first custodian of Colorado National Monument, works with civil engineer J. F. Sleeper, county surveyor James H. Fisk, and Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce to plan, sponsor, and promote first rough-cut automobile road through monument, eventually known as Serpents Trail
1912 – 1921 Construction phase of Serpents Trail

John Otto on the trail
Trailblazer John Otto.

August 1930 Frank A. Kittredge, Chief Engineer for National Park Service (NPS), evaluates a new proposed road
November 1931 Park service engineer Thomas W. Secrest comes to the monument to plan a scenic drive along the canyon rims. He remains to become project superintendent
November 21, 1931 Preliminary work begins on the new road

Preparing the road cushion
Preparing the road cushion.

1933 Congress passes the Federal Unemployment Relief Act
April 1933 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt creates the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), advancing park development by many years.
May 1933 Local Experienced Men (LEMs), skilled in carpentry, masonry, construction, etc., are hired by NPS in the roads and trails division to train and work with the CCC at the monument

Masonry workers
Masonry work from the 1930s still exists today.

May 22, 1933 CCC Company 824 moves into camp NM-1-C at the Coke Ovens
June 1933 NM-1-C reaches full strength at 220 men. Road construction begins at Coke Ovens
November 9, 1933 Company 824 moves to more permanent camp NM-2-C at Saddlehorn (near present-day visitor center). Caretaker’s residence constructed

Workers on Rim Rock Drive
Rock work on Rim Rock Drive.

November 1933 Company 825 from Mesa Verde National Park moves to the monument, eventually occupying the "last word" in CCC camps: camp NM-3-C at mouth of Fruita Canyon. They continue road construction and begin the steel fence that will protect the monument’s bison herd
December 12, 1933 An accident at Half-Tunnel kills nine local men when blasting brings the cliff down upon them
December 1935 – July 1937 Works Project Administration (WPA) men occupy the vacant NPS camp at Glade Park, now designated WPA Camp WC-2. They install water mains and continue road improvements

The fence crew
The fence crew.
The bison fence
The bison fence.

December 7, 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor
February 1942 National defense needs end all CCC projects
June 1942 WPA projects end. All, including custodian and rangers, called to active duty

Cold Shivers crew
The crew at Cold Shivers.

October 1949 Work on road from Cold Shivers Point to Grand Junction entrance resumes
1950 22.42-mile Rim Rock Drive completed. Serpents Trail made into a hiking trail

Serpents Trail
The road becomes Serpents Trail.

In addition to Rim Rock Drive, these organizations (and many others) worked together to build:

  • the open storage building,
  • the roads and trails shop,
  • the building and utilities shop (all located in the maintenance area),
  • the comfort station in Loop C of Saddlehorn Campground,
  • the picnic shelter at Devils Kitchen Picnic Area, and
  • the caretaker’s residence and garage (commonly called the stone house and stone garage).

All are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Trail of the Serpent
Trail of the Serpent.

Last updated: April 14, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1750 Rim Rock Drive
Fruita, CO 81521


970 858-2800

Contact Us