Colorado National Monument & McInnis Canyons Arches

Claire examining an arch; good thing she’s a lightweight!

June 1. Colorado National Monument.
One of our lesser known national monuments, it overlooks Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado and the Grand Valley, former name of the Colorado River here. The Colorado River flows lazily though the valley, irrigation pump sucking at it as thousands will do, and a small river of it gets ditched to Phoenix and Tucson, and much more to California, until it reaches the Mexican border, and disappears. We are too early for the peaches, and of course the wine grapes are tiny and green; some other year.
Wonderful sunset last night over Wedding Canyon, looking very much like Southeast Utah. We decided on the rim road bike ride today. Nice, except for the road construction, canyon edge riding and a detour to a crossroads store that was probably very nice one time, but now only sells scented candles, chips and beer. Must be all the ageing hippies moving in to build funky houses and horse corrals, all with a view: been there.

Tomorrow we will try another mountain bike ride, and hope it’s not another sand epic as the one in Arches. The second largest collection of arches in the US, outside of Arches National Park, is supposed to be at the end of about a 22-mile mountain bike ride from the rim road. It’s outside the national monument in a newly (to us) designated McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, that runs all the way into Utah. It is divided into zones of usage: mountain bike and ORV, horse and hiking, and river running, and areas of trail-less wilderness. I wonder if it is an experiment in separating the, sometimes competing, groups of public-lands users from each other?

June 2. McInnis Canyons arches mountain bike ride.

No epic mountain bike this time, just a couple of challenging climbs, and lots of wildflowers to cheer us on, the scent of sage and the expansive Colorado Plateau vistas that we love so much. The arches were fun, if nothing compared to the ones in Arches NP, but the hike from the end of the track was pleasant, and one sliver-rock arch was a hoot; we felt like kids, inching up on the thin part, teasing about causing it to collapse. I told Claire to tell all my friends my demise was, if premature, spectacular. What a treat to return to Turtle for a warm shower and icy drinks from the refrigerator. We are spoiled.

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