Otto's Bathtub

Date: November 15, 2009
Round Trip Distance: 8.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 6560-6575 feet
Cellphone: 4 bars
Usage: Hiking - No Dogs
Start: 10:15 End: 15:15 Elapsed: 5 hrs.
Facilities: none
Trailhead: Liberty Cap
Fee: $5 individual - $10 vehicle - $25 annual pass

Otto's Bathtub is located atop Monument Mesa on the Colorado National Monument. Rocks were piled under an arch to dam up the opening. You can still see the rocks when looking from the Monument Canyon side but the dam doesn't seem to be able to hold water in its present condition. The Entrada and Navajo sandstone ridge above the site is a fantastic area of the monument to explore. The rock formations and vegetation are very pleasing to observe.

Todays adventure was a snow hike. There was 2-4 inches of fresh snow from a storm that had moved through the area the previous day. The temperature was around 30 degrees when we left the trailhead but the sun was shining brightly and we were very comfortable. There were 2 other hikers that had started sometime before us. The had journeyed about 2.5 miles down the trail before heading back.

The first 3.25 miles of the trail is along the old 'Motor Route' that ran from Rimrock Drive, across Monument Mesa, to just before the Liberty Cap formation. We enjoyed trekking through the snow as we followed the  undulating trail across the mesa. The trail elevation changed 10-15 feet as we crossed most of the hills until we reached about the 2 mile point. From there the trail went down several short hills and tended to gradually lose elevation.

We reached the turn off from the Liberty Cap trail to the Otto's Bathtub trail around 3.25 miles. We knew we were getting close when Monument Canyon appeared on the north side of the trail. The cairne that marks the turnoff  isn't very big so we were glad to see that it was sticking out of the snow. The bathtub trail was pretty easy to follow, once we found it, even with a covering of snow on the ground.

After hiking through the trees a short distance the trail approached the rim of Monument Canyon. From here the trail followed generally along the rim. There were a few icy sections but they were either easy enough to navigate or avoid all together.

We followed the easy trail heading northward along the rim for almost 3/4 of a mile. When we were almost to the bathtub we ran into an obstacle that appeared at first to be as far as we were going to be able to go. We came to a narrow flat ridge that was covered with snow. The slippery path looked like the only way to continue until we decided to scramble down the right side of the ridge in search of another route. We were in luck. After hiking around on the right side we found a gap that we were able to slip through.

We shinnied back up the ridge and followed it the remaining distance which was probably not more than 100 yards.

Otto's Bathtub, in and of itself, isn't so spectacular that it makes it a 'must see' site but the bathtub and the area that it's in, along with the grand views and the fun nature of the ridge trail put it high on the list of places to visit.

We hiked about a quarter mile past Otto's Bathtub exploring the area some more. From the north end of the ridge you can see the upper cliffs of Gold Star Canyon not too much further away. We found a large rocky outcrop to sit on and have some lunch before we headed back to the trailhead.

We made it back to the Liberty Cap trail and noticed a set of tracks from someone who had hiked up from the Wildwood trailhead. The next mile of the trail was a steady but mostly gentle climb. The picture above is probably the steepest section but it was a pretty short distance to the top.

The closer we got to the trailhead the more tracks we started seeing. Apparently there had been quite a few other people that had come in behind us during the day. None of them ventured very far from the parking lot except for someone on cross country skis that had come in about a half mile.

We had a great time hiking. There were a lot of fresh animal tracks in the snow to keep us entertained along the way. The temperature probably never climbed much above freezing but we were able to stay comfortable. We were both wearing Under Armour Cold Gear for a bottom layer covered by blue jeans and sweat shirts. We wore hiking boots instead of snow boots and they were soaked through a little from the wet snow. I'm giving them a couple coats of Camp Dry to waterproof them a little more.

Whether you hike Otto's Bathtub in the summer time or in winter you shouldn't be disappointed. It is a place on the monument that is less traveled than most of the other trails. That is probably due to the 3 miles of Liberty Cap trail that you have to hike out and back on to access the Otto's Bathtub trail. In my opinion it is well work it to and another great place to 'Take a hike'.