Things of Beauty Towers - Palisade, CO

Things of Beauty Towers - Palisade, CO

Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Activities Activities: Hiking, Aid Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 5000 ft / 1524 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Although not ranked peaks, these are pretty cool and are not for those with weak stomachs. The "Things of Beauty" are a collection of mud hoodoos on the slopes of Mt. Garfield and are serious pinnacles of adobe mud jutting precariously skyward. The towers are topped with small pieces of sandstone that protects the soft mud from rain and allows the weather to slowly sculpt these monstrosities. Many of the more "noticeable" formations were climbed by the Choss Pirate Paul Ross in the early 2000s and many of them have not been repeated. He pounded 8'' nails, aka "spikes", into the soft matrix and aided precariously upward. These nails still remain although many have eroded severely since when they were first placed.

Sword of DamoclesPaul Ross on the first ascent of the Sword of Damocles.
Things of Beauty, COLunar landscape.
Things of Beauty, CO  Bug-Eyed Monster.
 Things of Beauty, CO Aliens in the mud.

The towers are littered across the southern flank of Mount Garfield and vary in height from 20' tall to 100'. The slopes are composed of adobe mud and are both fragile and dangerous. Great care must be taken simply to approach the towers and slab "mud-alanches" can break free underneath your feet. For climbers, these towers present a fun, yet serious, diversion from the popular climbs nearby and also present a rare opportunity for first and second ascents. For the casual hiker, trekking underneath these monstrosities is a sobering experience in itself and gives a very alien feel to your hike.

Getting There

Follow directions to the main parking area for the popular Mt. Garfield trail. These are taken from the Mt. Garfield page...

There are two ways to get to the trailhead. The official way is to exit I-70 in the town of Palisade onto 37 3/10 Rd (I love the road naming convention in the Grand Valley). About one hundred yards south of I-70 you will cross over an irrigation ditch. Make an immediate right (west) on G 7/10 Rd. Go about a mile or so west on G 7/10 Rd until you are forced to make a right (north). Head north to a tunnel that leads under I-70. The trailhead is just on the north side of I-70. The only problem with this method of getting to the trailhead is that the tunnel can fill with water. There are signs on the tunnel warning against going through it when it was full of water. I heeded this warning and parked on south side of I-70 and waded through the two-foot deep, filthy, muddy water. This was not a very fun experience.

An alternative is to be going westbound on I-70 and pass the Palisade exit. Drive roughly one mile west past the Palisade exit and look for a spot to pull off. There is a small break in the fence and you can drive you vehicle all the way off the road into a little parking area. This will sneak up on you fast and you may miss it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. However, if you go to the tunnel and it’s full of water, this is worth a try.

Now simply pull in and head to wherever your heart takes you.

The Sword of DamoclesApproaching the Sword of Damocles.

Getting to the towers can be easy or dangerous depending on where you want to go. The slopes will crumble under the slightest touch and can send you tumbling down the dusty slopes. Also, This area is largely unexplored and trails do not exist to most of the formations. Please take care to not severely erode the slopes and stay on existing trails whenever possible. While climbing the Sword of Damocles, there was not a trail and it took almost a year for our new footprints to disappear from sight on I-70. Be sensitive to this delicate environment.

Red Tape

There is currently not any red tape to enter the area. It is under the jurisdiction of BLM and the Grand Junction office can be contacted here...

Address: 2815 H Road, Grand Junction, CO 81506
Voice: (970) 244-3000

Although regulations are few and far between, here are a few things to think about...
*Beware private land and landowners.
*Be courtesy to other people, especially those on horses.
*If you encounter wild horses, please do not approach them.
*Be weary of old mines. They can be dangerous! Duh!
*Try not to destroy the landscape and follow LNT principles.

Nails. I wouldn't trust them...
The Sword of Damocles
Nails are scary
...too bad bolts aren't really any better.


Don't camp here.

Image Title

External Links

*The Mt. Garfield page has some excellent info.
*Mountain Project has a good page on the few named towers.
*The Grand Junction BLM website.
*NOAA Weather Forecast



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