We left Torrey, UT last Sunday and drove west through Capitol Reef NP on UT-24. Our plan was to stop at the little crossroads town of Hanksville for a visit to Goblin Valley State Park. But the forecast was for rain the next couple days so we decided to move on to Fruita, a small community west of Grand Junction, CO. If you have to spend a day or two in the rain, it is certainly better to be in an area with some stores nearby.
We were able to secure a reservation in Monument RV Park. We would have preferred a spot in James Robb State Park, just across the street, but no sites were available. Monument RV Park is nice, but it is typical of most commercial parks, with narrow sites.
The sun did shine one afternoon during our stay, so we headed a bit west for a hike in the Kokopelli Loops section of the nearby McInnis Canyon National Conservation Area. To get there we drove one exit west on I-70 (exit 15) and followed the signs to the Kokopelli Loops. After turning on to a nicely maintained dirt road near the Port of Entry, we drove three miles for our hike. At that point we turned left and went just a short way up a side road to the trailhead for Mack’s Ridge. If you don’t have high clearance you may want to park at the open area and walk up the side road (about a tenth of a mile) as it is a bit “bumpy.”
We read about this hike on the Lowes RV Adventures blog. Steve and MonaLiza visited a couple weeks ago and must have left quite an impression with the locals. Apparently the locals were so impressed with Steve’s hiking prowess that they re-named a couple of trails in recognition of his skills! After all, the trail signs appeared to be very new, a sure indication of a name change.
We began the hike on a section of Mary’s Loop (apparently no one recognized MonaLiza’s skills).
After about a half mile we came to the marker for Steve’s Loop. We stayed to the right at the first “Y” as we read that it is best to hike the loop in a counter-clockwise direction.
As we hiked around a deep canyon we could see the return section of the loop trail down below us.
As we rounded the loop, we enjoyed some great views of the Colorado River below us.
The trail was fairly flat and smooth, but it did get a bit more interesting as we moved deep into a couple of canyons.
The next morning we experienced some heavy rain, but the skies cleared a bit in the afternoon so we headed up into the Colorado Monument. There was still a chance of some rain so we limited our hike to a two mile round trip on the Canyon Rim Trail, which begins behind the visitor center.
As the trail name suggests, we hiked along the edge of a steep cliff along Wedding Canyon.
Looking north we could see Window Rock with the town of Fruita in the distance. The “window” is just below the railing in the center of the photo below.
We continued out to that viewing area and took a close-up photo of the window.
Looking back to the south we could see some of the named rock formations in the distance. In the photo below Praying Hands is the near pinnacle. The Pipe Organ is behind and to the right of the Praying Hands, while Independence Monument is farther behind it and to the left.
From Grand Junction we intended to move south to Delta and Ridgway, but the weather forecast has rain most of next week. So we will bypass that section of Colorado and schedule it for a return visit in the future. We’ll now circle back into Utah, go through Moab, and head to Cortez, CO. Steve and MonaLiza are also in the area so we’ll be meeting them for dinner. Perhaps they will share the secret of how to get a trail named for you!
More on that later . . .