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John Otto Climbs Independence Monument

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Colorado National Monument
John Otto Climbs Independence Monument

Independence Monument and Wedding Canyon form the floor of the sky at Colorado National Monument.

Photo © Stewart M. Green

The Colorado River drifts through the Grand Valley in western Colorado, meandering past cottonwood-lined banks, peach orchards, and the towns of Palisade, Grand Junction, and Fruita. Cliffs and mountains hem the river into the broad valley—the Book Cliffs across the north; Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain, rises to the east; and the Uncompahgre Plateau looms to the south. Along the plateau’s northern edge, abrupt cliff-lined canyons dip north toward the river. These canyons and their precipitous rims, carved from sandstone strata draped over the plateau, are protected in 32-square-mile Colorado National Monument.

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