Balanced Rock Colorado National Monument

Coke Oven’s Trail shares a trailhead with Monument Canyon Trail and the collection of rock domes can be visited as their own destination or as a side attraction on a longer trek into Monument Canyon. The hike to Coke Ovens is one-mile round trip with 180 feet of elevation loss.

From the turnout along Rim Rock Drive, begin hiking east into the canyon. After descending switchbacks for 0.14 miles, make a right at the junction and follow the dirt path across the ledge to Coke Ovens.

Coke Ovens
Looking south toward Coke Ovens from the junction

The trail follows the rim out to a point between two channels of Monument Canyon. The point has eroded into a series of fascinating domes known as Coke Ovens. A firm layer of capstone protects a lower layer of Windgate Sandstone, delaying its erosion. The unique formation is named after the dome-shaped ovens that were used to produce fuel coke from coal (back in the olden days).

Coke Ovens
Coke Ovens

There is a sweeping view of Monument Canyon from this perch above Coke Ovens. You might just feel inspired to hike down Monument Canyon Trail toward the alluring formations to the north. Otherwise, return the way you came by hiking back to the junction and up to the parking lot for a one-mile round trip trek.

To get to the trailhead: From Saddlehorn Visitor Center, drive south on Rim Rock Drive for 3.8 miles and turn left into the turnout for Monument Canyon and Coke Ovens. The trailhead is 0.2 miles south of the pull out for Coke Ovens Overlook, where you can get another good look at Coke Ovens.

Trailhead address: Rimrock Drive, Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, CO 81507
Trailhead coordinates: 39.077713, -108.728112 (39° 04′ 39.76″N 108° 43′ 41.20″W)


Elevation Profile
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These photos were taken in June of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Colorado National Monument TrailsMonument Canyon Trail
This 7-mile hike travels down into Monument Canyon to visit the tallest freestanding rock formation in the park.
Colorado National Monument TrailsOtto’s Trail
This 0.75-mile round trip hike visits an overlook near the Pipe Organs with an excellent view of Independence Monument and Monument Canyon.
Colorado National Monument TrailsCanyon Rim Trail
This one-mile round trip hike begins at Saddlehorn Visitor Center and travels along the cliffs edge overlooking Monument Canyon.
Colorado National Monument TrailsDevils Kitchen Trail
This 1.2 mile hike crosses the bottom of No Thoroughfare canyon to a rock grotto surrounded by tall boulders.
Colorado National Monument TrailsMore trails in Colorado
Explore other destinations in Colorado National Monument.
Colorado National Park campingSaddlehorn Campground
This 80-site campground is the only designated camping area in Colorado National Park, conveniently located near Saddlehorn Visitor Center.
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Tagged with · Desert Canyons · Fruita · Grand Junction
Distance: 1 mile – Elevation change: 180 feet

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