Colorado National Monument

Trip Start May 29, 2009
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Trip End Oct 03, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We left Moab this morning for the short drive to Colorado National Monument in Fruita, Colorado, just west of Grand Junction. Jane had called ahead to make sure that we could park the RV at the visitor center, unhitch, and enjoy the park in the car. Yes, we were assured that they had plenty of parking for large RVs and buses.  They warned us of the two tunnels with 16 foot 10 inches of clearance – in the center of the tunnel, but much lower towards the outside of the lanes. They said that the tunnels were short and just drive down the center of the road.

When we arrived at the entrance gate to the park, the large sign said tunnels ahead clearance 10 feet 6 inches.  We pulled the rig over to the right and Jane went to ask the ranger at the window about the tunnel issue.  No problem, that was the outside of the lane, they had plenty of buses and RVs every day.  She said that we should try to stay in our lane as much as possible – RIGHT ! So, we proceeded along the four miles to the visitor center.  Tunnels should have been our clue, because the switchbacks were somewhat challenging for 42 feet of motorhome with a car in tow. At one point Jane spotted another large rig coming down toward a switchback, so we patiently waited to proceed up and use the whole road.  The tunnels were as advertised, and we drove down the center of each.  As we arrived at the visitor center, we found curbside parallel parking for maybe two rigs of our size.  Fortunately it was empty.  We pulled way forward to leave room for another rig.  The surface was rather unlevel, so we put the front wheels up on four blocks of 2 bys.  Combined with the air leveling, we left the coach level (important for the refrigerator) while we were gone.

We unhitched before touring the visitor center for our passport stamp and orientation video.  The video had great pictures, but little information.  We enjoyed a quick lunch in the coach before setting out on the scenic drive. We enjoyed many of the overlooks.  Although this is a beautiful national monument, it was a bit of a letdown after Canyonlands. Both parks are a part of the Colorado plateau with similar formations.  Canyonlands is a bit more extensive and extreme.

We returned to the visitor center, hitched up, and continued on to Montrose, Colorado.  We have been following US 50 since Ely, Nevada (before Great Basin National Park).  Through much of Utah 50 follows I-70. At Grand Junction, Colorado, US 50 turns south from I-70.  We do not expect to see interstate highway again until we are back in Missouri.

While in Montrose, we will visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area.
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