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Colorado’s National Monuments

by Rachel Daly
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Colorado is home to many amazing public lands. Many of us know Colorado’s four national parks, but did you know that there are also eight unique and diverse national monuments in our great state? Here is our guide to Colorado’s National Monuments, complete with driving times from Boulder. Enjoy!

Colorado’s National Monuments

#1 Colorado National Monument

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Photo Courtesy Visit Grand Junction

Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. Much more than a monument, witness towering monoliths existing within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. Experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where majestic bighorn sheep and soaring eagles call home. Stay in one of Colorado National Monument’s 80 campsites or stay in nearby Grand Junction.

Colorado National Monument is a 4.5 hour drive from Boulder. Entrance fee is $15/car. Annual Pass is $40. Entrance fee is included in the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass ($80/year), more info here.

#2 Dinosaur National Monument

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Photo Courtesy National Park Service

Dinosaurs once roamed in Northwest Colorado at Dinosaur National Monument. Check out their incredible remains, still visible embedded in the rocks. Today, the mountains, desert and untamed rivers flowing in deep canyons, support an array of life. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures. Later, homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here. Whether your passion is science, adventure, history or scenery, Dinosaur offers much to explore. Stay in one of Dinosaur National Monument’s tent or RV camping sites, or find lodging in nearby Dinosaur, CO, Craig, CO or Rangely, CO.

Dinosaur National Monument is a 5 hour drive from Boulder. Entrance fee is $20/car. Annual Pass is $40.

#3 Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

dinosaurs in Colorado

Photo Courtesy Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Beneath a grassy mountain valley in central Colorado lies one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument features petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide and thousands of detailed fossils of insects and plants reveal the story of a very different, prehistoric Colorado. The fossils, rocks, hills, and valleys that make up Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument reveal an ancient story of redwood forests, volcanic eruptions, and a climate much different than today. In addition to a rich ancient history, the Florissant valley also contains the stories of prehistoric hunting and gathering Paleo-Indians, the Ute and Jicarilla Apache peoples, the travels of a pioneer nation, and of early scientists making their way through discovery into a different time. Camping is available in nearby Mueller State ParkPike National Forest, Eleven Mile State Park, Eleven Mile Canyon, Round Mountain, and Happy Meadows Campgrounds. Lodging is available in nearby Woodland Park, Cripple Creek & Colorado Springs.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a 2.5 hour drive from Boulder. Entrance fee is $5/adult, Kids 16 & Under are always FREE. Annual Pass is $20.

#4 Browns Canyon National Monument

Photo Courtesy USDA Forest Service

President Obama designated Browns Canyon as a National Monument in 2015, protecting the pristine forests, canyons and rivers of the upper Arkansas River Valley. The canyon is a favorite place for white water rafting, fly fishing and kayaking. There is also tons of hiking trails as well as camping opportunities.

Browns Canyon National Monument is a 3 hour drive from Boulder. There is no entrance fee, but parking fees may apply.

#5 Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Photo Courtesy Bureau of Land Management

The Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is home to the highest-density of known archaeological sites in the country, with over 6,000 recorded sites. This land was once the homes of the Northern Ancestral Puebloan culture, also known as Anasazi.  Archaeologists continue to discover relics of the past including villages, houses, petrogylphs, sweat lodges and kivas. To get the most out of your trip, stop at the visitor’s center and museum to learn more about the rich history of these canyons.

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument is a full 7.75 hour drive from Boulder.  The monument has no entrance fee, but there is a $3 fee per adult to visit the Visitor’s Center, 17 and under are FREE.

#6 Yucca House National Monument

yucca house

Photo Courtesy National Park Service

Yucca House National Monument is a remote site near Mesa Verde, where you can find a large pueblo with 600 rooms. Another large and important archaeological site, this monument preserves and protects this significant historical site as well as the flora and fauna of the region.

Yucca House National Monument is near the Canyons of the Ancients, about a 7.5 hour drive from Boulder. There is no entrance fee, no visitors center, no facilities. Please respect this space by packing out what you bring in.

#7 Hovenweep National Monument

hovenweep

Photo Courtesy National Park Service

Hovenweep National Monument protects six historic Puebloan villages, spread over mesa tops and canyons on the Colorado-Utah border. On the Colorado side of the monument lies the Holly, Horseshoe, Hackberry and Cutthroat Castle villages. The monument is also known for its incredible hiking opportunities as well as its campgrounds.

Hovenweep National Monument is located over the Colorado-Utah border in SW Colorado, the furthest monument at an 8 hour drive from Boulder. Entrance fee is $6/vehicle, includes entrance to Arches, Canyonlands, and Natural Bridges.

#8 Chimney Rock National Monument

chimney rock

Photo Courtesy Chimney Rock Interpretive Association

Chimney Rock National Monument is an archaeological as well as geological site of significance at the Southern edge of the San Juan mountains. Breathtaking rock formations soar to the sky. Rich with cultural heritage, Chimney Rock is home to over 200 ancient structures, as well as petroglyphs, rock wall art, great kivas and more.

Chimney Rock National Monument is a 6 hour drive from Boulder. Open May 15 – September 30. There is no entrance fee, but tours do require a fee, click here for info.

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