Enjoy spring at Monument’s walks, talks program
The Colorado National Monument Association’s Spring Walks and Talks program will start its 2014 season with a search of the night skies.
The public is invited to participate in the free programs that cover diverse topics such as photography, geology, bighorn sheep and more. Some of the events have limited space and require pre-registration. Participants on hikes are required to sign an acknowledgment of risk liability waiver.
There is a $10 entrance fee per vehicle to Colorado National Monument or an annual pass can be used. Call 858-3617, ext. 360, for information or to pre-register.
Here are some details about the spring programs:
■ Saturday, March 22, dusk — Western Colorado Astronomy Club’s Messier Marathon is an attempt to find a number of objects in the sky that were catalogued by French astronomer Charles Messier during the late 18th century. Telescopes will be set up. Meet in the Saddlehorn Picnic Area parking lot just after sunset. Bring lawn chairs, binoculars and snacks. Go to wcacastronomy.org for information.
■ Saturday, March 29, 8:30 a.m. — Bighorn Sheep Hike in Lower Monument Canyon, five mile round-trip, moderate hike with 15 hikers maximum. Pre-registration required.
■ Wednesday, April 2, and Saturday, April 5, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Hike to Otto’s Bathtub from Upper Liberty Cap trailhead, moderate 8.5 mile round-trip hike includes a lunch stop in the bathtub area. Space limited to 16 hikers. Pre-registration required.
■ Thursday, April 17, and Saturday, April 19, 8:30 a.m. — Hike off the Beaten Path from Gold Star to Monument Canyon. Out-and-back strenuous hike will cover approximately four miles in four hours. Some scrambling required. Limit 16 hikers. Pre-registration required.
■ Saturday, April 26, 1 p.m. — What’s Missing at the Monument? Join cartographer and geologist John Hodge at the Bookcliff Overlook as he points out and explains the geologic layers present at the monument and talks about what isn’t here and why. Limit of 20 people. Pre-registration required.
■ Saturday, May 10, 8:30 a.m. — Wildflower Macro-photography Hike on Liberty Cap Trail. Learn tips and techniques for photographing flowers up close. Pre-registration required.
■ Thursday, May 15, and Saturday, May 17, 9 a.m. — Cactus Walk along the Old Gordon Trail. Members of the Chinle Cactus and Succulent Society will teach how to identify a variety of cacti, succulents and other desert plants. Approximately two miles round-trip. Limited to 20 participants. Pre-registration required.
■ Saturday, May 17, 5:30 a.m. — Tony Babbitt Flute Concert at Saddlehorn Amphitheatre, soundscapes played on the native flute. Babbitt also will provide some discussion about the legends of flutes throughout the evening and share songs from his recorded CDs
■ Thursday, May 22, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Wildflower Hike on Liberty Cap Trail looking at wildflowers and cacti, collared lizards and leopard lizards. Strenuous hike. Pre-registration required. Limit 16 hikers.
■ Saturday, May 24, 8:30 a.m. — Otto’s Bathtub Geology Hike. Spend the Colorado National Monument’s 103rd birthday on a five to six hour tour through geologic time to Otto’s Bathtub. Limit 16 hikers. Pre-registration required.
■ Saturday, May 31, dusk — Western Colorado Astronomy Club Spring Star Party. In multiple observing sessions weather permitting, you will see planets, springtime galaxies, star forming nebulae and clusters. Telescopes will be set up. Meet in the Saddlehorn Picnic Area parking lot just after sunset. Approximately two hours. Bring lawn chairs, binoculars and snacks. Go to wcacastronomy.org for information.