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Monument Canyon Trail

A stunning sampler of the canyon's best rock sculptures.

Hiking Difficult

11 km
360 m
360 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.6 km
High Point
1.9 km
Monument Canyon Trail Map

The Monument Trail from the Upper Monument trailhead is probably the most Grand Canyon-esque hiking experience in Colorado National Monument!


Like Grand Canyon hiking, this hike starts by dropping down, down, down with a 60-foot' descent, which means ending with a stiff ascent. The entire length of the trail is 6 miles, so think about the return ascent when deciding when to turn around! Since there is a trailhead at each end, it is possible to undertake this trek as a one-way shuttle hike. For a gorgeous day hike, however, the hike from the Upper Monument trailhead to Independence Monument is a worthy 7-mile outing.

This route is known for its views of some of the Monument's major rock sculptures, including the Coke Ovens, Kissing Couple and Independence Monument. It should also be known for the amazing trail that takes hikers steeply down into the canyon. The rockwork is pure art, with steps carved directly into the surface in some places. Take a moment for gratitude to trail builders everywhere.

Spring is a wonderful season to hike this trail: it is not yet too hot, and the wildflowers are simply breathtaking. At every turn, there are different natural wildflower arrangements that appear to be designed just for your pleasure.

After passing the Kissing Couple rock formation, continue to the base of Independence Monument. At 3.5 miles in, this is a good spot to stop, relax and enjoy a snack before heading back. Views of Independence Monument appear before you get to it; look carefully to see if there are any rock climbers scaling its wall. This is a popular climbing destination and seeing the tiny climbers on the massive rock formation gives a true sense of its massive size.

As with all desert hikes, carry plenty of water and the 10 essentials!

The easiest access is via the East Entrance closest to Fruita. Drive 3.8 miles past the Visitor Center to the trailhead on the left side of Rimrock Drive, just past the Coke Ovens Overlook.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between April and October


  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area