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Colorado National Monuments Take Visitors Back In Time

When considering a state that boasts the bulk of one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, one might be tempted to think of such a place as a veritable “rocky” landscape statewide.

However, The Rocky Mountains are just one such special feature of the great state of Colorado. There is much more to see and experience within its borders than solely snow-capped peaks, fresh powder runs, and skyscraping vistas.

Indeed, for every jaw-dropping mountain view in the Centennial State, there is likely a stunning forest, a nearly bottomless canyon, or a wide, flat rolling plain to behold. And that’s just on top of the soil! Colorado is also a wonderland for archeologists and scientists studying the statewide diverse ecology and the species that lived on its lands eons ago.

Indeed, Colorado is a state that was custom-made for outdoor lovers, adventure seekers, and those who might be interested in the hows and whys of the natural world, from deep in history to the present day.

Many of these experiences for all these different types of visitors to the Rocky Mountain State can be found at one of Colorado’s many National Monuments.

Below are the Colorado National Monuments that shouldn’t be missed:

Colorado National Monument: This destination says it all with just its name! Preserving one of the most beautiful and vital landscapes of the American West, this spot not only protects the present-day natural habitats but also the history of the people and species that flourished here throughout history. Explorers can experience sky-high peaks, red-walled canyons, giant monolithic rock formations, and all kinds of animal and plant life. This locale is truly unique for outdoor lovers, and thankfully, it’s preserved as a National Monument for generations to come!

Photo Courtesy NPS

Hovenweep National Monument: Visitors at this National Monument are greeted by a different kind of stone formation, specifically the manmade kind! More than 700 years ago, some 2,500 people lived in the Hovenweep settlements in present-day Colorado and Utah. Today, travelers can still walk among the stone masonry that built the villages centuries ago. The opportunity to explore and inspect the intricate, ancient designs that still stand today draws thousands of travelers annually to this incredible site.

Photo Courtesy Andrew Kuhn/NPS

Canyons Of The Ancient National Monument: This destination is a must-see for those interested in ancient, mysterious history. Designated a National Monument by presidential proclamation on June 9, 2000, Canyons of the Ancients preserves more than 170,000 acres of land that contains the densest collection of archaeological discoveries in the United States as well as the vestiges of the Native American cultures that thrived on the land years ago. Humans have inhabited the area for more than 10,000 years. Visitors today have the unique opportunity to learn more about these ancient civilizations and walk in their footsteps. 

Photo Courtesy Bureau of Land Management

Chimney Rock National Monument: One of the most unforgettable rock formations in the West can be found at this site in Southwest Colorado, and that’s just the “tip” of the iceberg. The Pueblo people lived and thrived there in one of the largest and most advanced ancient societies of the American West. Visitors are invited to imagine what those communities might have looked like when visiting this location. Additionally, the monument, designated by President Obama on Sept. 21, 2012, protects more than 4,700 acres of pristine Colorado land. This site is truly one of a kind!

Photo Courtesy NPS 

Dinosaur National Monument: This destination is a child’s dream come to life: dinosaurs! Millions of years ago, the animals roamed the earth and these lands, and their remains can still be seen in places like Dinosaur National Monument. Eastern Colorado’s mountains, rivers, and deserts support abundant natural life, and the ancient petroglyphs teach present-day generations about life thousands of years ago. There is truly something for everyone at this site.

​​Photo Courtesy NPS

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument: If Dinosaur National Monument isn’t enough of a prehistoric experience for visitors, this Florissant Fossil Beds offers even more to see and experience. Underneath the grass-covered mountain valleys of the area lies the fossil beds, one of the most diverse fossil deposits in the world! Clues to the mysteries of ancient societies and species can be found here, giving a glimpse into what the natural world was like thousands upon thousands of years ago. As a bonus, the National Monument offers “night skies” programs for stargazers to experience the great bowl of western stars with next to zero light pollution.

Photo Courtesy NPS

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