Lower Monument CanyonDate: 1/20/2014
Miles: Approx. 5 round trip
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 6.526’N , 108° 42.077’W
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To get to 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. If you’re coming from the west Monument entrance the trail head is 2.1 miles going east on Hwy 340 at the top of the hill.
From the parking lot you pass through the fence and past a couple nice informational kiosks as you follow the trail up a slight grade as it turns left and begins following along the old buffalo fence. After about ½ a mile the trail drops down and enters the mouth of Monument Canyon. There is a registration box at this point you can sign if you like but it is not required.
While standing at the registration box if you turn around directly behind you there are a few small petroglyphs carved into the rock. Also to the left of the box you will see a faint trail heading off into the brush and over a dry creek bed. If you follow this trail over to the small cliff overhang area you can see another small panel of petroglyphs. There is a brown carsonite sign in front of the panel.
From this point on the trail is pretty much up the whole way. The park service has done a fantastic job maintaining the trail. There are a couple short side trails that you can take that offer some rewarding views. Be sure to keep an eye out for the herds of bighorn sheep that hang out around the area.
After approximately 1.5 miles the trail basically levels out the rest of the way to the base of Independence Monument.
Once you reach Independence Monument you have three options. There is a sign indicating the Wedding Canyon trail to your right and there are two other trails towards your left. The middle trail traverses around the northern side of the monolith and the far left trail travels around the southern side. The northern trail is pretty steep and has a lot of loose rocks and scree so if you want an easier route I would recommend the southern trail.
Be sure when you’re at the Wedding Canyon sign to follow it for about 30-40 feet until you reach the big flat rock on your left. This rock is known locally as Declaration Rock. John Otto had his wife Beatrice Farnham carve the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence on the rocks face. The carving is getting worn down more and more each year so if you do climb up on the rock you might try not to step on any of the carvings.
From this point you can either continue up the trail for another 3.5 miles to Rimrock Drive, take the Wedding Canyon trail back down and around to the parking area or just return the way you came.