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Created On: Feb 25, 2011
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COLORADO IS LIKELY TO BE GRACED WITH A NEW NATIONAL PARK! Colorado National Monument turns 100 years old May 21, 2011.
Independence Monolith Monument CanyonRandi Marsh takes in the "Towerful" view of Independence and the Grand Valley.

Climber, writer and self-proclaimed "radical of the safest kind" John Otto lobbied local politicians, Congressmen, Senators, and even consecutive sitting Presidents on a weekly basis. He built trails, climbing routes, and raised funds to create and NATIONAL PARK in the canyons and towers above Grand Junction, Colorado. He was a patriot of the purest form. his original names have mostly been lost, but he named most of the towers and monuments for our greatest United States historical figures; George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Gold Star Veteran's Canyon, Columbus Canyon. He had his short term wife carve the "Declaration of Independence" complete with a huge John Hancock and the courageous signatories.

John Otto PortraitJohn Otto envisioned Independence and it's Tower filled canyons as a National Park before many other Parks were considered
John said "I came to view these canyons and towers and it felt like the "Heart of the World" to me. He proposed calling the park Smith or JONES (or maybe Anderson?) National Park hoping that folks would come see their namesake park. It seemed he cared little for what to call it, as long as it would bring joy and inspiration to the lives of travelers to the west.
Independence MonumentIndependence Monument is a stately 450 foot tall TOWER and is unquestionably the most recognizable feature of the future Colorado/INDEPENDENCE TOWERS NATIONAL MONUMENT. Every 4th of July a large US Flag was placed on the towers summit by founder John Otto, and now by Mesa County Search and Rescue.

Many local and state politicians championed the cause and arrived on "Colorado" National Park, but it did not have the land size to warrant a park. President Taft who had visited the Palisade Peach festival the year prior and preserved the "Colorado National Monument". John Otto was named it's superintendent and sole employee at $1 a month. He continued building trails, fences, climbing routes alone, surveyed the Serpents Trail, an automobile road John called the "curviest road in the world." He raised funds with local boyscout troops and brought in Bison that roamed the walls until early 1980s. He continued to be an un-abashed promoter and political commentator for woman's suffrage, against the local KKK party, against the communists. Eventually he chafed under the load bureaucratic correspondence with the Interior, and felt unappreciated by the socially-conservative (read scary) locals who cared little to conserve their God-given lands or their fellow man's -or woman's personal rights.

John left to Yreka, California to retire in a former Post office he painted red, white and blue. He worked a low yield mining claim in the cool shade of a forested creek. He went on contributing radical social commentary to local editors until his quiet death in depths or poverty.

Grand Junction locals Michael O'Boyle, Dave Fischell, "John Otto: Trials and Trails" author Alan J. Kania and others gathered money and drove a powerful headstone of durable sandstone tower over a black rock base to replace the rusted stake marking his burial. We now have the opportunity to honor his life's ambitions and share his "heart of the world" with the world. If we can distinguish his lovely towers from the canyon parks that surround it...
Grand Valley Ripples with LightResounding Light over Grand Valley- SIA 2011- 16x20 alabaster, oil acrylic on canvas.


I recommend A Name including the distinguishing features on the Monument to separate our park from CANYONLANDS, BLACK CANYON, ARCHES P, So far the dominant name suggestion has been Colorado CANYONS." We will not stand out from the CANYON PARKS that ALREADY EXIST. When we show photos of our Monument, THE Feature that sets us apart from CANYON country is the photos of the TOWERS. Of the 450 Foot Tall INDEPENDENCE TOWER!!!


I know this suggestion sounds foreign to locals and those familiar with the Monument and proud of the Colorado name. I agree. But I have though about this for years, and to visitors who might come here, we need to tell them what an amazing view and adventure they are in for. They can DRIVE TO Canyons in both directions, and we have Arches TOO, But WE HAVE the strongest feature that nature can afford.WE HAVE TOWERS!!! Please think from an outside view what will entice folks to visit us, spend money and then they will leave? More canyons? Nay, "INDEPENDENCE, COLORADO, ETC TOWER,TOWERS, TOWERS! TOWERS WILL BRING THEM, and God already built them!!! how cool is that?
John Otto on the crux of Independence MonumentJohn Otto Founder of the National Park Idea in the Grand Valley.

When we had hard times after the Great Depression, we invigorated national pride by working on improving our parks. I know we can do this again. I want to share our beauty. Please join in sharing our lovely scenery with the world.
We will only grow in our pride and joy of this land for it. Ask those near Grand Teton NP who fought against the National Park status if they are less proud of where they live now... I grew up here. I was always inspired by John Otto and his ambitious, fervent desire to make a National Park in this valley. I think he was right.
A rare view of John Ottos s MonumentMany activities can be enjoyed at this NEW NATIONAL PARK. Even skiing in the desert!

We'll be just fine if we don't. but if we have the chance to did something great, I want to do all I can to be a part of it. Thank you God for this opportunity! Thank you Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade for charging forth again toward a bright future. We can do this together, so let's roll!
Codependents and IndependenceLet's Roll to that new "TOWERS NATIONAL PARK" I heard about honey! that sounds so cool! what could be more "inspiring" than staring out at myriad strong towers? Let's Roll!


Imagine yourself on a road trip seeking out INTERESTING places to add adventure to your life and to impress your family and friends with the fine photos you bring, or send home in post cards. The map that reads "RIM OF TOWERS" National Park looks awesome! It is going to mean more and say more about this area and the AWESOME place you saw on your trip. COLORADO is cool on its own. COLORADO with a NEW _______________"TOWERS" NATIONAL PARK is going to put this place on the map for ever more.

Please consider this name when we discuss National Park Status. Regardless of the name, please join in the movement to share our great lands with more enlightened visitors.
Monument in Winter The NEW DAY, Get It Going! John Otto the tireless dreamer for a new National Park in his "heart of the world." Otto was the first founder, promoter and caretaker of Colorado National Monument.

Conductor at the Heart of the World, Colorado National Monument"Conductor at the Heart of the World". The Spirit of John Otto continues to inspire the western slope of Colorado.

Coke Ovens-The Coke Ovens, CNM, CO.

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Brian C

Brian C - Feb 27, 2011 10:50 am - Hasn't voted

missing image

The first image link appears to be missing the image number.

This is a nice article. I like the idea of calling it "Colorado Monument NP" since locals call it "the monument". Keep these great GJ articles coming!


seth@LOKI - Feb 27, 2011 11:08 am - Hasn't voted


I think I fixed the link- I am a local and I know from years of exhaustive explanation that "monument" makes folks that aren't as knowledgable or connected as you think of a roadside pile of rocks with a plaque commemorating some battle or something.... boring. THINK.


dakotaconcrete - Feb 27, 2011 11:50 am - Voted 10/10

'Towers' is pretty cool

I remember being really confused what the Monument was when I first moved to GJ four years ago. As a friend of mine who had moved here himself, and had not visited the Monument, kept referring to it as the "Monuments". For my first month, I seriously had no idea what the Monument was. Needless to say, I'm not a big fan of a new title with Monument in it.

I think something with towers would be pretty cool. That's definitely one of the key characteristics I associate the Monument with.

Aside from the name, do you really think it'll be designated a National Park? There are some pretty tough criteria/guidelines that need to be met with a National Park, and all of the valley inversions and close proximity of Redland/Fruita area residents might conflict with them.

I'm curious, are there other National Parks in our country that have an immediately adjacent population of over 100,000?

Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Mar 4, 2011 5:31 am - Voted 10/10

Re: 'Towers' is pretty cool

Cuyahoga Valley is located between Akron and Cleveland. There's very little wilderness. It was created to make national parks more accessible to the public--which probably means it was more political than based on the usefulness of the national park designation to protect a wilderness area. To be honest, I don't think the park service is interested in any more such parks--but then politics always factors in these decisions. And, to be honest, I seriously doubt our current House of Representatives will create any national parks.

--mark d.


seth@LOKI - Mar 7, 2011 2:00 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: 'Towers' is pretty cool

Thanks Dakota- I was hopeful that Otto's dream could be realized. If it were entirely up to local support Grand Teton and much of Alaska's parks would not exist. IF "THE TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY" were to prevail in every issue, George Washington would have been declared a king, and our great experiment in REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT" would not exist. History shows that during our Great Depression Roosevelt reinvigorated our economy by investing in our public works aka- infrastructure withe WPA, in conservation of our public lands and our parks with the CCC. We the people worked together, conserved together, saved for retirement of the "least among us" who paid in their whole lives like my grand parents. I haven't met a single CCC member of the Monument who wasn't proud of their contribution. So I hope it will be if we can invigorate Grand Junction's economy with the boon of an easily visitable and exciting new National Park. I don't think anyone argues that it wouldn't increase our tourism... That sounds awesome to me!

I for one am proud to have climbed the Grand Teton 4x, Moran, Middle Teton, Whitney, Raineer and Denali... I think the fact that these places are held with special regard, yet are intended to be enjoyed and yet protected by ALL is important. I believe that our park system is America's "BEST IDEA". An idea that now spans the globe for good reason.

I googled new national parks and saw a movement in Maine, I assume around Baxter or Katahdin.


seth@LOKI - Mar 7, 2011 2:57 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: 'Towers' is pretty cool

I've heard from folks that love Cuyahoga. I've heard rumor of a PrairieLand National Park in Kansas, one in Maine's gorgeous peaks and lakes.. History shows that our economy benefits from increased tourism due to increased park interest in our lands, increased national pride of an appropriate "nature". I will be just fine, perhaps, if there are no more parks established, but I believe in a bright future that includes more National Parks in deserving locations. I am wide-open to listen, yet not heard convincing argument contrary to sharing our backyard with the greater public.
"The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value."
Theodore Roosevelt

"Where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run."

I recall in 1992 my brother, Chris Rose and I first skinned up Gray's and Torrey's Peaks early March. We shared the magical day with a woman and her dog, then a man came yodelling down in the dark on our ski out. A year later on a fine July morning. Jess Rigg and I woke from the car and set out alone up the gorgeous green terrain. By the time we summited Grays and headed toward Torreys, there were probably 150 ant-like climbers marching up the trail. At first I was disappointed. I quickly began to cross paths with a few smiling faces, dripping with sweat and loving the view. I soon changed my thoughts and tried to convince Jess to take heart in the mounting company on the trail down.
I don't relish the idea of every square inch of land being trampled under vibram somes, I just hoped these folks will be better off for the mountain experience. They will grow in appreciation of our stunning landscape, the rare trees, goats, marmot, pika, big horn sheep and a few hardy elk that thrive in thin air. I'm willing to share my love and adventures in mountains in the hopes that they too will share. That they will spend their treasure pursuing goals and seeking solace and community also in nature. That they might share adventure with their fellow man and want to better one another's position rather than on bullets lord or enslave... I firmly believe and will stand up for the right for all to bear arms and i mean guns, bullets and the like for defense but hopefully for hunting and understanding man's current role as prime predator and responsible caretaker of population... I just would rather my fellow brother bear arms that can hoist up up a 5.10 I underestimated...

Matt Lemke

Matt Lemke - Feb 27, 2011 6:28 pm - Hasn't voted


Although I'm not completely local to the Grand Junction area, I do live in the Denver area and I, along with others simplify things even more and just call the Colorado National Monument "CNM"

Must be because I'm attending "CSM" (Colorado School of Mines)
and it sounds so close :)

Very nice article BTW. Enjoyed reading it.

fehn - Feb 28, 2011 11:37 am - Hasn't voted

No Thanks

The Monument is an amazing place as it is. Making it a National Park will take a rather low key place and fill it with a bunch of road, parking lots and visitor centers. It will increase use restrictions and red tape as well. No thanks.

Bubba Suess

Bubba Suess - Feb 28, 2011 9:26 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: No Thanks

I second that.


fatdad - Mar 2, 2011 2:12 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: No Thanks

I third that. Joshua Tree "National Park" (still hard to say) is a perfect example of that. Lots of new asphalt, roads and more convenient touron access to previously quiet, pristine places, all in the name of preservation.


km_donovan - Feb 28, 2011 10:55 pm - Hasn't voted

Colorado National Monument: Celebrating 100 Years of John Otto's Dream

Shown on PBS 2/28/2011 (Denver 6.1 HDTV)


seth@LOKI - Mar 2, 2011 11:55 pm - Hasn't voted

Thanks all truly for reading and caring...

I feel many ways about the potential issue as well.
Since a very young age, I have been influenced by the burning desire of "Monuments" founder John Otto to SHARE his joy, what he said to him felt like the "heart of the world" with the world, as a National Park. He had a grand vision of connecting the gems of the west via a National Park road system.
I fully understand residence of our low-key Monument becoming a bustling National Park. I have busted cob-webs on mapped trails that are now hiked by an average of three-four people a day. I've seen old Otto trails I excitedly "rediscovered" years earlier become standard passages. I am not saddened.

When hard times hit after the Great Depression, much work and effort went into our infrastructure, our parks, even in our civic arts. It was a good thing that instilled pride in the workers, in the folks that recreated close to home, in our own great nation. Investing in ourselves is preferable to investing across oceans if possible.
I want my fellow humans to be proud Americans, proud to visit America, to appreciate the outdoors, the open west. I find it helps me feel better about being alive, I want others that I live alongside to feel that. I want them to intimately care about land, and society's long term role regarding our finite resources. I am adamantly` opposed to urban sprawl. Somehow it seems money that visits and leaves happy is better than money that relocates.

Our National Parks have brought me tremendous enjoyment throughout my short thirty-six year life. I appreciate wilder places, but there are places that Americans should be encouraged to see and experience if possible. I think Colorado is well worth visiting. A short drive to see some gorgeous desert towers on a drive through the west is way-worth sharing. Grand Junction is worth sharing. I'll be content if things stay as they are. Change happens. It seems that evolution is usually forced. If we can employ some wisdom for the long term plan, plan rather than react, we will be better off.

"The New Day, Get It Going!" John Otto.

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