Balanced Rock View Overlook in the heart of four-mile-long Fruita Canyon on the west side of Colorado National Monument offers a glimpse at an improbable geologic oddity. We love precariously balanced rocks because they seem to defy gravity and make us ask the question: When will it fall? Balanced Rock is a 700-ton boulder perched atop a flat bedding seam on the edge of a Wingate sandstone cliff. The Balanced Rock won’t topple for a long time since its base is large and possibly connected still to the pedestal it sits on. The viewpoint, easily reached by driving a couple miles up Rim Rock Drive from the monument’s west entrance, sits on the southeast side of the road on a wide bend. The overlook, alongside the road, has several interpretative panels that explain how Balanced Rock possibly formed.
- The small parking lot fits only three or four cars. It’s hard to park there if you’re driving up Rim Rock Drive since you have to cross over the opposite lane and park facing toward traffic. Avoid parking on the shoulder on the inside corner of the road.
- Balanced Rock is a pretty cool formation to look at. The bulky rock is narrow at its base on the pedestal while its walls are overhanging. The rock, however, is one of the few formations at Colorado National Monument that you shouldn’t attempt to climb, simply because it has a short life span and climbing might possibly speed up its demise.
- Mushroom Rock is another balanced rock at Colorado National Monument. This bizarre formation perches on a pedestal above slabs on the east side of Lower Monument Canyon. You can see the rock from Lower Monument Trail between the Trailhead on Broadway and Independence Monument. It is illegal to climb Mushroom Rock.
- After stopping at Balanced Rock View Overlook, continue up Rim Rock Drive to the park’s Saddlehorn Visitor Center above Wedding Canyon. It’s a great place to get acquainted with Colorado National Monument, buy some books and maps, watch a couple movies, look at lots of exhibits, fill water jugs, and use the restroom. If you have any questions, a park ranger staffs the desk every day.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green