Lizard Canyon

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Lizard Canyon

Date: 5/2/2011
Difficulty: Easy
Miles: Approx. 3.6 miles round trip
Rating: 3halfstar
Type: In-Out
Time: 3 hours
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 6’31.52″N, 108°42’4.85″W

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Lizard Canyon is the third canyon located from the west boundary of the Colorado National Monument. It’s located between Fruita Canyon and Wedding Canyon. To access the trail head from 1st and Grand in Grand Junction you will need to head west on Broadway for approximately 8 1/4 miles. Shortly after Deer Run subdivision you will see a small gravel road that turns off to the left. The road actually looks like it is some ones driveway. Please be considerate when driving down to the parking area, driving slowly will allow you to watch for children and also keep the dust to a minimum. There is a sign that was buried in the bushes indicating this is the Monument Canyon Trail. There recently has been a new sign erected on the right side of the road indicating a trailhead as well.

The trail begins by following the Monument Canyon trail for a short distance. Within about 100 yards or so you will come to the first left turn of the Monument Canyon Trail. This turn is where the Lizard Canyon and Wedding Canyon trail branches off to the right. There is no markers indicating a trail and the trail itself is not very wll worn so it is easy to miss.

The trail weaves it’s way through the pinion and juniper trees until it comes to a small bluff overlooking a grassy meadow looking area. This portion of the trail could probably become very slick if it is muddy or rainy. The climb down is fairly steep but it shouldn’t give anyone any problems. Once off the bluff the trial continues through the meadow area passing through a couple small ravines and then skirting around a large sandstone outcropping. From here the trail basically follows the old buffalo fence until you reach the mouth of Wedding Canyon.

Once at the mouth of Wedding Canyon there is a very faint trail that branches off to the right and heads over to a more pronounced trail you can see climbing the small ridge that separates the two canyons. If you watch to the right you can see where there was an old road or trail that climbs up the small hillside and leads to what looks like might have n been the beginning of an old mine.

As I crested the small ridge and began heading down into Lizard Canyon itself I noticed some very fresh bobcat tracks on the trail along with some fresh deer tracks also. I did catch up to the deer in time to watch them bound off into the trees but the bobcat never gave me the opportunity to see him, if he was around.

Once at the mouth of Lizard Canyon you can see an old road or trail that was built up years ago that heads up to the modern day Rimrock drive which is just in front of you. Since I love history so much, I followed the old trail up to the main road just to imagine walking on it back in the day it was used, then turned back to explore the recesses of Lizard Canyon.

At this point the trail pretty much ends at the terminal of Rimrock Drive. Once at the bottom of the canon there is a small wash or ravine which I followed a short distance then continued up the canyon via a very intermittent game trail. There is a power line running up the middle of the canyon and up the sheer cliff walls to the Saddlehorn Campground and surrounding buildings. It makes me wonder how they ever dug the holes to place the power poles. I suppose due to the power line running up the canyon I did see quite a bit of very old evidence of people. Once within the actual canyon the game trail and any other signs of any trail basically disappeared which forced me to find my own way. I worked my way up the left side of the canyon until I came to the sheer  wall of Precambrian granite which gives the monument it’s foundation. At this point I turned around after inspecting a large boulder that tumbled into the middle of the ravine.

Lizard Canyon Trail-Colorado National MonumentOn the way back out of the canyon I walked down the right side or basically straight under the power lines until I came to the trail at the mouth of the canyon.

This could be a short and quick hike if you wanted it to be. I took my time and did a lot of exploring. If I hadn’t hiked up to the head of the canyon I could have probably taken at least an hour off my time and an extra mile. Overall this was a nice hike, with the always present history of the monument and the wildlife and views it was definitely worth the effort.




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