Kodels Canyon is the western-most large canyon in Colorado National Monument. An unsigned trail that does not appear on the official park map takes you 700 vertical feet up the canyon where it fades at the base of the upper walls that form the head of the canyon. An interesting rocky monolith can be seen in that area. A short spur trail can be followed to an abandoned mine (see external link at the bottom of the page).
Fruita Dugway was an old path for taking cattle from the nearby town of Fruita to the top of Glades Park Plateau. Some maps show a trailhead near the western entrance of Colorado national Monument but I did not see a parking spot or any signs of a trail there. The trail described below starts at a junction with Kodels Canyon Trail near the mouth of the canyon. It then goes up 1350 vertical feet to end at a junction with Black Ridge Trail which can be followed further up the plateau.
Map of Kodels Canyon and Fruita Dugway
Getting ThereKodels Canyon Trailhead near Dinosaur Hill
From the junction of I-70 and Route 340 (Broadway) in the town of Fruita, drive south on 340 and cross Colorado River. Right after Kingsview Road, you will see an inconspicuous parking area on the right (west) side of the road. This is outside the boundaries of Colorado National Monument.
Visitor Center Trailhead
The upper end of Fruita Dugway can be reached by hiking 0.8 miles on Black Ridge Trail which starts at Colorado National Monument Visitor Center 4 miles from the west entrance of the park on Rim Rock Drive.
Kodels Canyon Route Description
At the trailhead near Dinosaur Hill you will not see any signs for Kodels Canyon. A network of trails marked K1 through K10 follow various paths in and around the dry arroyos on the plains. Follow the K1 trail for almost a mile and then turn left onto K7 trail. Hike about 600 feet on K7 past an unmarked junction with Fruita Dugway Trail until you reach a number of hitching posts (because of rain, I was not able to take pictures on this part of the trail). This is the mouth of the canyon.
The trail takes you down to the bottom of the canyon and follows it uphill.
You will then reach a fence that marks your entrance into Colorado National Monument. Follow the trail around this fence and then up a relatively steep grassy slope. At a split in the trail, take the right one (the left one supposedly goes 0.25 miles to reach an abandoned mine, see external Link at the bottom of the page).
You will soon go by a rocky monolith rising up from the bottom of the canyon.
At around 5200 ft of elevation, the trail fades away at the base of the walls of the head of the canyon which rise up another 400 vertical feet.
Fruita Dugway Route Description
From the junction of Kodels Canyon and Fruita Dugway Trails, head east and follow Fruita Dugway Trail as it turns south and begins to go up a steep slope at the base of a series of slickrock walls.
Go through a gate and enter Colorado National Monument. You will soon get a good view of Kodels Canyon.
As you quickly gain elevation, you get to see the slopes that go down to the edge of the city of Fruita.
You will then reach what looks like a shelf road dug in the canyon wall.
Views of Colorado River, towns of Fruita/Grand Junction and the mountains known as Book Cliffs.
For a short time, the trail comes close to Rim Rock Drive (the park’s main road).
You can now see the upper walls of Kodels Canyon.
After a switchback, you will reach another shelf where the trail goes.
Some type of a water facility.
This Butte is actually visible from way down at the bottom of Kodels Canyon.
Before reaching the junction with Black Ridge Trail, you can get glimpses of Monument Canyon.