Independence Rock at Sunrise
The area was first explored by John Otto, a drifter who settled in Grand Junction in the early 20th Century. Prior to Otto's arrival, many area residents believed the canyons to be inaccessible to humans. Otto began building trails on the plateau and into the canyons. As word spread about his work, the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Junction sent a delegation to see what he was doing. The delegation returned praising both Otto's work and the scenic beauty of the wilderness area. The local newspaper began lobbying to make it a National Park.
The Coke Ovens Overlook is one of the many picturesque views provided by The Monument.
The area was established as Colorado National Monument on May 24, 1911. Otto was hired as the first park ranger, drawing a salary of $1 per month. For the next 16 years, he continued building and maintaining trails while living in a tent in the park.
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