The Historic Trails View Overlook is 2.4 miles from the west entrance station at Colorado National Monument on the north side of Rim Rock Drive. The overlook perches above Grand Valley and the Colorado River far below. An interpretative sign at the overlook explains the Fruita Dugway, a historic trail that was used by early ranchers to more cattle from the valley up through the national monument to high pastures around Glade Park and Piñon Mesa. The trail threaded up the eastern edge of Kodels Canyon, then climbed out a shallow canyon just west of the overlook onto the slope above the road. The Dugway trail was built in 1907 during the construction of a pipeline that carried water from the mesa to the town of Fruita. The small pullout has room for about three cars. Be careful pulling back onto Rim Rock Drive after stopping at the overlook.

Pro Tips

  • You can still hike the historic Fruita Dugway Trail. It’s a 3.8-mile hike that begins at a small pullout on Colorado Highway 340 across from Dinosaur Hill below the monument and ends at Saddlehorn Visitor Center. If you don’t have a ride back from there, hike back down to the trailhead. The trail goes up Kodels Canyon, then climbs out of it and passes close to Historic Trails View. It meets Black Ridge Trail after three miles. From here you can follow a social trail for 0.8 miles to the visitor center or reverse your route for a six-mile hike.
  • A mile and a half past Historic Trails View is the monument’s Saddlehorn Visitor Center. You can use restrooms and fill your water bottles here. Also check out the small museum with interpretative displays about geology, natural history, and history; watch a couple movies; check out a viewpoint below the center; and browse the monument bookstore for postcards, books, and other cool stuff. A ranger at the info desk can answer your questions.
  • Saddlehorn Campground, northeast of the visitor center, is a wonderful 80-site campground divided into three loops. Each loop has restrooms with flush toilets and water in the warmer months. Camp fees are paid at a registration kiosk by the campground entrance. Nearby is Book Cliffs View Overlook, Window Rock Trail, and Canyon Rim Trail.
  • Dinosaur Hill is a low ridge of shale and sandstone on the south side of the Colorado River off Colorado 340 about 1.5 miles south of I-70 and Fruita. In 1900 paleontologist Elmer Riggs discovered part of a skeleton of a 70-foot-long Apatosaurus. It was removed in 1901 and displayed at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in 1908. A 1.5-mile round-trip hike lets you explore this unique paleontological treasure trove of dinosaur bones and ancient life.
  • Recommended season(s): Year-round.

    —Stewart M. Green

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