Alcove Nature Trail

Round Trip Distance: 0.5-1 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5791-5825 feet
Cellphone: 2-4 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Visitor Center
Fee: $5 individual - $15 vehicle - $40 annual pass
Attractions: Interpretive trail

The Alcove Nature Trail is located in the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail begins at the Visitor Center where it crosses Rimrock Drive which it parallels for about a half mile. The first quarter mile of the trail between the Visitor Center and an overlook is wheelchair accessible. A more primitive trail continues past the overlook and ends in an alcove below a big spillover.

From the parking lot of the Visitor Center follow the path for the Alcove Nature and Black Ridge trails that leads across the roadway.

The route to the alcove is an interpretive trail with 31 metal posts at different points along the way. Each post has a number on it that corresponds with information in the guide that explains different aspects of things along the trail. Be sure to pick up a guide at the Visitor Center or the trailhead before beginning.

The surface of the trail isn't paved but it is hard packed and level enough for the use of wheelchairs.

Visitors can enjoy an easy hike as the trail travels leisurely through the pinyon and juniper trees along the base of the sandstone cliff.

The wheelchair accessible portion of the trail ends at an overlook that has views of the nearby cliffs and canyons.

On one of our trips we took pictures of a bighorn ram that was grazing along the road below the overlook. While the ram was probably within 100 feet of where we were the telephoto lens on our camera makes it look much closer. Bighorn sheep are encountered frequently on the monument and visitors should always be careful to keep their distance.

Those that are able can continue past the overlook on the more primitive trail that leads to the alcove.

As the trail wraps around the cliff the passage becomes increasingly narrow.

Eventually the trail terminates in an impressive little alcove.

During rainstorms hikers will discover a waterfall spilling into the alcove where a pool of water will quickly form.

Here is a look back at the passageway that leads into the alcove.

Children love crawling into the little cubby holes in the cliff.

Once back at the Visitor Center be sure to check out the museum and gift shop where you can learn a lot more about the Colorado National Monument.

The monument has a thriving herd of Desert Bighorn Sheep that often can be seen along the roadway so please drive slow and use caution. There are about a dozen more short trails most of which lead to overlooks with stunning canyon views. There are also a large number of backcountry hiking trails with world class scenery to enjoy. As far as the Alcove Nature trail goes if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.