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Independence Monument View looks into the heart of Colorado National Monument from Rim Rock Drive, a scenic road that traverses a bench above canyons for 22 miles. The iconic overlook, perhaps the best in the monument, sits above abrupt cliffs. The popular viewpoint, on the north side of the twisting road, has parking for 13 cars. The horseshoe-shaped overlook offers great views of 5,739-foot Independence Monument, a 450-foot-high sandstone tower that sits on a divide between Wedding and Monument canyons. Beyond Independence and the red canyons is the broad Grand Valley and Grand Junction, the largest city in western Colorado. The shale and sandstone Book Cliffs line the northern horizon. A couple interpretative signs at the overlook detail John Otto’s historic 1910 ascent of Indy and how erosion formed the slender tower.
A few years ago the Superintendent of Colorado National Monument sent an email to writer Susan Joy Paul about a photograph on a website that I shot of her climbing the final overhang below the summit of Independence Monument in 2010. “We want to use that photo on our interpretative sign at Independence Monument View,” the Superintendent told her in a phone call. Susan sent me the request and I gave the Park Service permission to use my photograph. Now my image is paired on the overlook sign with a 1910 photograph of John Otto in the same place as Susan Paul exactly 100 years later.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green
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