Tag Archives: kids

White Rocks

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

With multiple businesses to run, a job to work, kids to raise, and a house under remodel, sometimes we just can’t take a half-day or full-day to get out and explore and adventure and LIVE….goddammit.

It’s at these times when we have our short go-to places:

Devil’s Kitchen. Echo Canyon. No Thoroughfare. White Rocks. 

These are all still really super awesome badass places, but close and short.

Today was one of these days. We hit the White Rocks, and followed with the pool, then a short visit to Matt’s parents house.


boy standing on the saddlehorn formation, colorado national monument

The Saddlehorn

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him participate in synchronized diving.”
Cuthbert Soup, Another Whole Nother Story

I imagine that the first Colorado National Monument caretaker, John Otto, had at least a horse or two to his name while he lived and explored here.

John Otto with horse and mule

So it’s no surprise that this prominent sandstone formation was given the name “Saddlehorn”, since that’s probably what it looked like from the angles that he saw it first.

A few weeks ago when Matt and I were taking in the views from every viewpoint, we passed this formation, not for the first time.

But for the first time, I noticed the moki steps going up the side.

I, of course, was all like, “OMGOMGOMGOMG we have to climb up that! I’ll be the view is spectacularous!”

So, knowing my son Timothy’s penchant for climbing, and wanting to show his friend a little adventure, we pulled over and decided to give it a go.

Tim, of course, went right for the very shallow moki steps that allowed the greatest exposure.

He is a daring and fearless chap, after all.

But not 10 yards up I told him to shuffle his little bum down. A mother’s heart can only take so much.

Undetered, we found was was decidedly the more common route…. as indicated by ‘steps’ carved into the rock face as well as a plethora of graffiti [not all of which was from antiquity].

The boys and I stayed aloft whilst Matt roamed the base, and we all came down from it feeling…well… stunned.

It was stunning.

climbing the moki steps on the saddlehorn rock formation

Rider trying to follow Tim up the ‘steps’. You can just see Tim’s hunched back.climbing the moki steps on the saddlehorn rock formation

Can you see the ‘steps’ in the slickrock?MORE grafiti on the saddlehorn formation

A view from the more conventional route. Pretty sure I’ve seen ‘Valdez’ in several places around the monument. boys sliding on the snow

Sliding on frozen snow = a good time.view from the top of the saddlehorn formation, colordao national monument in winter

PANO = STUNNING!Elisa Jones and boys on top of the saddlehorn formation looking toward wedding canyon

Obligatory selfie from the top of the Saddlehorn. Wedding/Monument canyons in the background.two boys climbing the saddlehorn formation

Can you see why this feature is called the ‘Saddlehorn’? boy standing on the saddlehorn formation, colorado national monument

Tim standing on top. One of the more intense moments. “It’s okay, he’s okay, it’s okay, he’s okay…”graffiti on the saddlehorn, colorado national monument

Even MORE graffiti… and some of it as recent as this decade. Elisa Jones standing on the Saddlehorn


panoramic view from Window Rock, Colorado National Monument in winter

Window Rock Loop

“I discovered windows one afternoon and after that, nothing was ever the same.”
Anne Spollen, The Shape of Water

This particular trail is one of the easiest, shortest, and most spectacular in the Colorado National Monument.

The railings are marked “DANGER! Do Not Cross” and from them you can lean out into the nothingness, 400 feet of Wingate sandstone cliffs beneath you.

Or at least you think they are.

Hope they are.kids at window rock viewpoint looking down into wedding and lizard canyons in winter

Window Rock it’s self is not unique to the monument. Rather, most of the buttresses that are on the Grand Valley side have been carved out just below the Kayenta formation cap, revealing daylight through the expanding cracks beneath them.

This one just happens to be large enough to be named.

We took 3 kids: two of mine and one of a friend. The snow had melted and refrozen and the kids were able to trot along the top of it without leaving much of a footprint [and if you look carefully, you can see the area was trodden before by a large, wild cat.]


After reaching the point where you can look down and across the ‘window’, we headed along the cliff toward Bookcliff Shelter [which is on the National Historic Registry].

We found several things of interest:

○ a natural ‘picnic table’two children sitting on the edge of wedding canyon in winter window rock trail bookcliff view shelter colorado national monument

○ a boulder on the edge, looking like it was about to slip to it’s doom

○ a tree, framing Monument Canyonjuniper tree framing the view of monument and wedding canyon in winter with snow

○ a dry and decaying corpse of some poor rodent [I’m guessing rabbit], whose bones were delicate and bleached by the sunstratified layers of sandstone on the rim of monument canyon colorado national monument

Upon reaching the shelter, the kids enjoyed reading more about the valley below them, memorizing the names of the formations.

It was a very pleasant .6 of a mile. Kids reading about monument canyon in winter colorado national monument Matt Janson at window rock in winter looking toward fruita

Matt enjoying the view. panoramic view from Window Rock, Colorado National Monument in winter

A little pano action.Wedding canyon in winter colorado national monument

A backlit Wedding Canyonwindow rock in winter

Looking down through Window Rock.children on the edge of wedding canyon

Boys playing on the ‘frame’