Go Play: Riggs Hill hike in Grand Junction offers fossils & views | PostIndependent.com

Go Play: Riggs Hill hike in Grand Junction offers fossils & views

Brittany Markert
A signed display greets hikers at the beginning of the Riggs Hill trail.
Brittany Markert / bmarkert@gjfreepress.com | Free Press


WHAT: Riggs Hill hike

WHEN: Year-round

WHERE: Near intersection of South Camp Road and South Broadway

DISTANCE: One to three miles

INFO: http://www.museumofwesternco.com

Nestled in the middle of Grand Junction’s Redlands community is Riggs Hill — a historical hike, featuring dinosaur bones and vast views.

This hike is perfect for all abilities and ages, plus it’s a great jaunt for dogs. This trail ranges from one to three miles depending on which loop is chosen.

The trail is located just off the intersection of South Broadway and South Camp Road. If coming from South Broadway, heading west; the trailhead is less than a quarter-mile west on the right from South Camp Road.


The trail begins at a display sign, which describes the history and geology of the area. There is also a box which holds a map and more information.

Riggs Hill can be done clockwise or counter-clockwise.

If taken counter-clockwise, the trail starts with a steep, rocky, short climb. Then it leads to a saddle between two large hills. A freshly-painted bench is available for rest and to take in the views of the Colorado National Monument or the Grand Valley.

Venture up the rocky slope, which leads north and take in the views from the very top. It’s the perfect place to explore and see wildlife like snakes, lizards and birds that frequently sunbathe on the rocks.

If opting not to climb up a bit more, the trail leads from the saddle around the bottom of a hill.

The trail eventually skirts along South Broadway.

Numbered poles are located along the path. These can be used by hikers to learn more information about the area along with the pamphlet picked up at the start of the trail.

The hike for the interpretive trail totals around three-quarters of a mile. If you venture to the top, it will total about a mile.


According to the Museum of Western Colorado’s website, Riggs Hill was originally used in the 1900s by Elmer Riggs, a paleontologist at Chicago’s Field Columbian Museum who came to Colorado’s Grand Valley to collect dinosaur bones. Riggs and his crew discovered a Brachiosaurus altithorax (deep-chest arm-lizard), named because the creature’s front legs appeared to be much longer than its back legs; and the ribs were nearly nine feet long.

The quarry, the site of the dinosaur discovery, is marked with a stone monument and the hill was named after Riggs.

In 1937 on the northwest slope of the hill, the Museum of Western Colorado noted that Edward Holt discovered partial skeletons of Allosaurus and Stegosaurus dinosaurs. Holt allegedly left the bones in the area to become a natural research center, but the bones and other scientific information was lost due to vandalism.

Today, a cast of a bone can be seen along the north side of the hill near Riggs’ monument.

For more information about the history of the area, visit http://www.museumofwesternco.com.

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