Maybe you are not one of several thousand tourists inconvenienced by the government shutdown of National Parks. Instead, perhaps you are an everyday, ordinary hiker; a Grand Junction local who has grown accustomed to the luxury of hiking the trails of the nearby Colorado National Monument.
If so, Mistalynn Meyeraan of the Grand Junction Visitors and Convention Bureau has some advice for visitors to the area that will work just as well for you!
“If they want the red rock canyons, we take them to Bangs Canyon...” she told KKCO 11 News.
Just as rerouting Tour of the Moon bicyclists up Little Park Road and down Monument Road was an ingenious plan “B” on the part of the bicycle classic organizers; so re-rerouting hikers to Bangs Canyon is just about as close as you can get to a hike within Colorado National Monument during the government shutdown.
For starters, Bangs Canyon is located up Little Park Road which parallels Monument Road. Both Rough Canyon and the Mica Mine Trail originate from the Bangs Canyon parking lot. Both are beautiful, replete with red rock formations. Rough Canyon has sheer towering red cliffs. Mica Mine Trail boasts red sandstone towers.
Hiking Rough Canyon is reminiscent of hiking No Thoroughfare Canyon or Echo Canyon just inside the east entrance to the Colorado National Monument. This time of the year, the deciduous trees of No Thoroughfare and Echo Canyons are changing color; so too, the foliage in Rough Canyon.
There is a waterfall in Rough Canyon; dry this time of year in the desert, but with several deep pools of muddy water remaining from the rainy season just past.
Hiking Rough Canyon is a bit more rigorous than hiking lower No Thoroughfare Canyon or Echo Canyon. There is more water in Rough Canyon than in No Thoroughfare or Echo. With more water inevitably comes the heart-stopping sound of wildlife in the underbrush. Mountain lion tracks have been seen in Echo Canyon this year. Rough Canyon is even more remote and less travelled. That sudden noise you hear in the profound quiet, is usually only a chipmunk or a scrub-jay going about its business, somewhat affronted at the interruption of a lone hiker.
So, while you wait for the 401 National Park Service sites to re-open; go ahead and enjoy the natural beauty in Rough Canyon.