If you ever find yourself in Western Colorado, be sure to check out the Colorado National Monument. With beautiful red rock terrain, and even some wild mountain goats running around – this is an outdoor hidden gem, with a nice variety of trails for you to enjoy hiking with kids.
Colorado National Monument ~ Hiking With Kids
There are two entrances to the park, an east and a west. Currently the entrance fee is $10 per vehicle, or free with a National Parks pass. Be sure to grab a map at the drive-by entrance station on the way in. If you have a specific length and type of hike you are interested in, ask the ranger working the booth for suggestions of a trail.
Be aware that you can’t bring dogs along on the trails, even on a leash. And bring plenty of water, as this can be a high temperature area.
If you enter from the west, you’ll get to pass through a couple of tunnels. My kids always find this exciting. (Ok… I do, too!) After about 5 winding miles of road, you will come across a nice Visitors Center, with a large parking lot. This is a good area to stop, use the rest rooms, and possibly branch out on your hike from here.
If you have older kids, they have a neat Canyon Rim Trail on the Visitors Center side of the road. This trail hugs the ridge of the scenic cliffs, and offers some pretty amazing views.
Or, if you have a fast, wild, and uncontrollable toddler like I do… head across the street to the Alcove Nature Trail. This is a short, self guided hike, with numbered markers along the way to point out plants and formations of interest. There are usually brochures available at the trail head, if you are interested in following along.
We like to take friends who are not avid hikers to this Alcove Nature Trail, since it’s short, has no elevation gain, and has a neat feature at the end which kids and grownups alike find quite interesting. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but grabbing the brochure is a good idea if you’d like to be filled in on the description and history of what you’ll see at the trail end.
I think the Alcove Nature Trail is one of the best kid hikes in Colorado National Monument, because there are numerous safe places for them to climb rocks along the way. I’ve yet to meet a kid that didn’t love climbing rocks! The trail hugs a sandy slickrock mound much of the way, that kids find irresistible.
Here’s the frosting on the cake: There are mountain goats! And in the Spring/Summer season… baby mountain goats! These can often be spotted on the west end of the park. Ask at the Visitor Center for tips on where and when to best find them.
On our way out last weekend, we did get to catch a glimpse of two mountain goats. It was a parent and baby goat, and they crossed the road just prior to my taking this picture. It was so exciting!
I highly recommend a visit to Colorado National Monument, and although it’s a nice loop to drive… be sure to also get out and do some hiking with those kids!
*o* *o* *o*