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2012 – Fall Vacation – Part 6

20 Sep

On this morning, we head out early to hike the Interpretive Trail of the Rabbit Valley Research Natural Area (39.1936° N 109.0201 W) which is about 2 miles east of the Utah-Colorado State-line along I70.  Here is the Colorado State description of the area.

Rabbit Valley is located north of the Colorado River along the northwest flank of the Uncompahgre Uplift. The quarry has produced large specimens of several dinosaurs including Camarasaurus, Allosaurus, and Camptosaurus.  The Bureau of Land Management and the Museum of Western Colorado have developed the site for interpretive use, and the Museum of Western Colorado directs ongoing fossil digs.   The recent discovery of an Iguanodon skull marks the earliest known record of this species.  High quality pinion pine – Utah juniper woodlands occur on the site north of the fossil locality.

Please be aware that this site contains features of state-wide significance. Collection is prohibited at all times with out proper permits.

Rabbit Valley Research Natural Area

With the morning hike complete we head to Fruita, Colorado to visit the Dinosaur Journey museum which is the Museum of Western Colorado.  It’s a nice museum of the dinosaur history of the region and they also had a movie that we also enjoyed.  Found this interesting vehicle outside I had to stop and photograph as well.

Fruita, ColoradoDinosaur Journey

Across the parking lot at the museum I also spot a railroad passenger car which turned out to be D&RGW #52 and it is sporting the Fruit Belt Route logo on it.

Fruita, ColoradoFruita, ColoradoFruita, Colorado

Our main goal today was to tour the Colorado National Monument again and hope to catch some nice shots under different light conditions.  You can tell in some of the shots that wildfire smoke still is in the valley.


Well, you can’t visit here without at least stopping at Balanced Rock as the best angles are not from roadside but a short walk away from the road

Colorado National Monument
We will stop next at the Fruita Canyon Overlook where you can also see Balanced Rock down below

Colorado National Monument
We will only take a short hike on the Canyon Rim Trail this time just to capture a few shots near the visitor center itself.

Colorado National MonumentColorado National Monument

Independence Monument is the next stop on the drive.  This free standing soft red sandstone monument stands 450 feet tall.  For those adventurous enough, I believe you can climb this but for us we will enjoy it from the overlook.

Colorado National MonumentColorado National Monument

Also right in this area is Monument Canyon where other soft red sandstone formations stand tall above the valley floor.

Colorado National Monument
At the Artists Point overlook there is two places to enjoy the views so if you have time and don’t mind a few steps make sure you head to your left to get to the lower section of the overlook to see other views you can’t see from the upper section.

Colorado National Monument
The Fallen Rock overlook is all about this rock slab that has broken away from the cliff wall.  Make sure you have a reasonable telephoto lens for this one as it’s a bit of a distance away for many Point-n-Shoot cameras to get a nice shot.

Colorado National Monument
We will briefly get a few shots of Red Canyon as we drive by.  Note the notch at the far end of the canyon; the canyon is starting its next phase of change and that will slowly work its way deeper and father back over time.

Colorado National Monument
Cold Shivers Point is one of those places that you can enjoy from the overlook or take a short hike to where this location gets it name.  The first photo is the one I took and the second is the one Lisa took of me standing where I took from photo from.  Right behind and in front of me is a vertical drop so watch your footing if you head out near the point to take photos.

Colorado National MonumentColorado National Monument

We will now head back to Grand Junction to visit the Museum of Western Colorado.  It was lots of great historical items to enjoy and yes you can go up into the tower as well to get views of the city.  You can get to the top via an elevator or use the stairs; below exit into the museum.

Grand Junction, Colorado

For our planned Railfanning, we head over to the Union Pacific Maintenance Department to hopefully get shots of some of the D&RGW equipment that is stored here.  We will get a clean shot of  D&RGW Crane #028 along with its Wheel / Boom Car.  You can see another D&RGW car behind the crane but no way to get a clear shot.  I will also take a few shots of some older UP cars that are also stored here.

Grand Junction, Colorado

As we headed back to the hotel we got buzzed my fighters and I wish I had the video camera ready as they passed very low right over our car.  The  Blue Angels Navy F/A-18 Hornets are in town and on this day they were practicing so once we got to the hotel we had a nice FREE show.  Sadly I missed the support plane as by the time we saw it we had put away the camera equipment.  Will be interesting to see how well my new HD Video camera caught the action but here is a few of the still photos that Lisa and I took.

Grand Junction ColoradoGrand Junction ColoradoGrand Junction, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado

Well, that is it from this day but there is still several more days to go for this trip report…

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