Otto's Trail Colorado National Monument

Otto’s Trail is one of the shorter hikes along Rim Rock Drive in Colorado National Monument. Like Window Rock Trail, this 0.75-mile stroll descends gradually to a cliff overlooking Monument Canyon. The view showcases Independence Monument, the tallest freestanding formation in the canyon, and a point of fascination for visitors dating back to the first park supervisor, John Otto, for whom this trail is named.

From the pullout on Rim Rock Drive one mile south of Saddlehorn Visitor Center, head east on Otto’s Trail. The wide dirt track heads slightly downhill, sacrificing 85 vertical feet. The best views come at the end of the trail, so in the words of Bob Barker, come on down!

Otto's Trail
Otto’s Trail descends gradually to the overlook

The panoramic vista overlooks Independence Monument, Praying Hands, and Sentinel Spire. The Pipe Organs, a series of cylindrical formation similar to Coke Ovens, are just ahead, adorning the side of the canyon.

Otto's Trail Independence Monument
The Pipe Organs

The trail is named for John Otto, the eponymous park supervisor who dedicated his life to preserving the land that became Colorado National Monument. Panels at the end of the trail depict Otto’s wedding ceremony, which took place in the canyon below Independence Monument. The marriage did not last however, because Otto’s other great love came between them – Colorado National Monument. His wife is quoted as saying.

I tried hard to live his way, but I could not do it. I could not live with a man to whom even a cabin was an encumbrance.

Fortunately, Otto’s stewardship of the park was more enduring. Many of the trails he built during his thirty year stint as inaugural park supervisor remain in use today.

Otto's Trail
A panel below the view of Independence Monument

There are no junctions to worry about along the way, so when you are through enjoying the view, simply return the way you came. The meager elevation change makes Otto’s Trail a breeze for hikers of all abilities.

To get to the trailhead: From Saddlehorn Visitor Center, drive south on Rim Rock Drive for one mile and turn left into the pullout for Otto’s Trail.

Trailhead address: Rimrock Drive, Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, CO 81507
Trailhead coordinates: 39.095896, -108.732744 (39° 05′ 45.22″N 108° 43′ 57.87″W)

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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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 TrailsWindow Rock Trail
This 1/3-mile round trip hike ends at a distinct point on the wall of Monument Canyon where a natural window appears just below the top of the cliff.
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 TrailsAlcove Nature Trail
This one-mile round trip hike is less scenic than others in the park, but offers information about area plants, animals, and geology.
Colorado National Monument TrailsMore trails in Colorado
Explore other destinations in Colorado National Monument.
Camping
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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Distance: 0.75 miles – Elevation change: 85 feet

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