Go Play: Blooms abound on Serpents Trail in western Colorado
Wildflowers pop in shades or reds, pinks, violets and oranges — like glimmering beacons of hope in an otherwise harsh western landscape.
After much spring rain, these days Colorado National Monument’s Serpents Trail is blossoming at every turn. Hikers may enjoy castilleja (commonly known as Indian paintbrush and prairie-fire), claret cup cactus blossoms, what looks like copper mallow, penstemon and more against a red-rock backdrop and dusty terrain.
Lizards — in a variety of types and sizes — scuttle and sun themselves, while an occasional insect buzzes across our path. And people power up the hills in groups of two, three or more.
WANT TO GO?
Drive into the Grand Junction-side entrance to Colorado National Monument and park at the first side lot to the left or in the Devils Kitchen Picnic area. Fees to enter include $10 for a car (lasting seven days), $5 for walk-ins, bikers and motorcycles (also good for seven days). or $25 for a yearly monument pass. (My family opts for the year-long pass; it seems like the best deal.) Pay at the entrance station manned by a monument staffer.
“Built in the early 1900s, this route was part of the main road until 1950,” Colorado National Monument’s website said. Serpents Trail is also known as the “crookedest road in the world.”
Indeed, this winding section of trail hosts plenty of switchbacks, heading nearly 2 miles up one way. I wouldn’t want to drive a car on it (not that you can these days); what a wild ride that would be!
Bring plenty of water, a snack and pack your trash out. No dogs or horses are allowed. Plan for an hour or two, especially if you stop along the way to photograph flowers and small lizards (there’s plenty of opportunity).
For more information about Colorado National Monument and directions on how to get there, visit http://www.nps.gov/colm.
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