Round Trip Distance: .8 miles
Elevation: 4679 - 5466 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - No Dogs
Time: 30 mins.
Facilities: Flush toilets at Visitor Center
Trailhead: Otto's Trail
Fee: $5 individual - $10 vehicle - $25 annual pass
Attractions: Scenic canyons and rock structures, wildlife, wildflowers
View Otto's Trail in a larger map
Otto's Trail is located in the Colorado National Monument, on Rimrock Drive, about 1 mile from the Visitor Center. This short, scenic trail was named after John Otto the first park ranger and driving force for the preservation and creation of the Colorado National Monument. The trail follows a ridge that juts out into Wedding Canyon and offers spectacular views of both Wedding and Monument Canyons. The trail is well suited for small children and anyone else that can handle a short hike with only a little bit of elevation change.
Otto's Trail is well marked and very easy to follow. The packed soil and rocky surface of the trail makes it suitable for hiking year round even when the ground is a little damp.
The trail has a gentle downward slope between the trailhead and the overlook as it meanders through the juniper and pinyon trees. Visitors will also notice sagebrush, Mormon tea, yucca and in the spring and summer months, many wildflowers.
The park service has done a great job of placing stone steps in the few places that would otherwise be a little more difficult to hike.
The overlook sits on the edge of the cliff hundreds of feet above the canyon floor. Even with the security of a fence small children will need to be kept close at hand in this area as there are still unprotected places where they could wander.
Wedding Canyon lies directly to the east and north of the overlook.
The canyon gets its name from the marriage of John Otto and Beatrice Farnham on August 21, 1911.
Looking to the north across Wedding Canyon you can get a good glimpse of Window Rock at the end of the Canyon Rim/Window Rock trail.
To the south Independence Rock divides Wedding and Monument Canyons. This towering pinnacle is a popular challenge with rock climbers. A large group of them scale it every 4th of July. If you would like to explore the bottoms of these two canyons then take a look at the Wedding Canyon and Monument Canyon posts.
Immediately in front of the overlook are the spires of the Organ Pipe and Praying Hands. The shapes of these impressive towers that led to their monikers are a little hard to recognize at this close of a viewpoint.
Looking across the canyon to the south we spied a small herd of desert bighorn sheep. While we were taking 40 or 50 pictures the other people in the area couldn't figure out what we were looking at until we pointed out the sheep. There may be a lot of folks that visit the area and never notice them.
Otto's Trail is a short hike but not quite as short as the sign at the trailhead that indicates a distance of 1/4 mile. Both GPS that we had showed a one-way distance of almost a half mile. This trail may be suitable for a stroller if you don't mind the little obstacle that the short sets of steps present. The views of the canyons and surrounding areas make the trail well worth the visitors attention. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.