My father recently rode back to Colorado from Louisiana with me. We made gumbo for friends using local ingredients, soaked in some nearby hot springs even as the air temperature was 20 below freezing, and had the requisite Thanksgiving arguments about politics and philosophy... all very enjoyable. When it was time for him to return home, the scheme involved taking the train from Grand Junction to Denver and then catching a flight. "Excellent," I thought - "We can check out the National Monument above Grand Junction."
Neither of us was prepared for the sublime beauty that we encountered that morning, and I know that what my camera captured was but a pale approximation of the grandeur on display by mother nature.
Sandstone Rampart in WinterThe beginning of the iconic scenery of the Colorado Plateau can be seen in Colorado National Monument above Grand Junction. Winter is an especially serene time to witness the beauty of the rocks.
The Grand Valley was filled with a cold mist that all but obscured the goings on of the city below. Grand Mesa, the largest flat-topped mountain on Earth, rose distantly in icy blue majesty. What what really struck me however was the brilliance of the sandstone cliffs bathed in morning sunshine that, along with their natural steepness, rendered them immune to the cover of snow which buried everything else.
Colorado National Monument apparently enjoyed fewer than 500,000 visitors in 2012 while the Grand Canyon played host to 4.4 million. Perhaps if more folks made the pilgrimage up Rimrock Drive in December, this other gem of the Colorado Plateau would develop a greater following.